This I Believe

Thomas B. Dowd - Boston, Massachusetts
Broadcast during the 1950s
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The basis of my belief is shaped by a most unforgettable character, a woman. The story begins with a little girl, 2 years of age, as she stood in a country cemetery on a raw December day holding her 4-year-old brother’s hand and listening to a kind priest as he prayed over the grave of her mother. It is quite possible that she didn’t understand this experience until later, but there is no doubt that she felt it with the instinctive wisdom of a child.

When the prayers at the grave were completed, this little girl was separated from her brother and taken to an orphanage where, for seven years—long as they must have been to her—she, with other orphans, was shepherded up and down church aisles in the hope that somebody would be attracted to her and single her out for adoption. One Sunday, shortly after her 9th birthday, the girl was taken into the hearts of a couple who had little to offer of material things, but a world of love to give. Her philosophy of life, because of the kindness of these two, was predicated on a philosophy of thankfulness, and she dedicated her life to doing for these two people each thing done, bringing to her happiness and joy, and to them material comfort.

This little girl grew with dignity to the state of womanhood and married. She found a new and lasting kind of love with her fine husband. And although the first years of this union were filled and strained with worries, they carried on, doing things as one. Their oldest child died at the age of 12; there were business difficulties; there was a continuous struggle to get on the road of stability and success. The sky never seemed to be completely cleared of its clouds of illness and worry. All this necessitated tremendous personal sacrifices, which were so readily made, so that their children might not be only clothed and fed, but also would be educated.

Her dominant philosophy, so developed in these trying years, was an understanding of God’s ways. She was a happy mother, tender and considerate of her husband and children, unselfish in everything she did. Her spirit of optimism and the joy and pleasure she derived from the littlest of things made her stand apart from all others that I have known. She had a trust in God and man—one as the giver of all things, and the other as a provider of material and earthly things. This trust was a beacon to all who knew her.

In all things she did, she looked for no personal reward, but, as in the case of such a living philosopher, she received a reward that was above all expectations. Her belief in God as the giver of all things was exceeded only by her realization that the time would come when she would be turning to Him for eternity. With her family gathered about her deathbed, she listened to their prayers and those of her oldest son, a priest, as he asked God to accept her spirit. And just as he pleaded “Dear God, into thy hands I commit the soul of my mother,” she passed on to eternity.

If one were not impressed with this person who embodied the humanitarianism of the Good Samaritan, he could find, in my opinion, no place in the world of good thinking people. That I was impressed, and that I have attempted in some way in my personal life to follow the concept of the goodness that was hers, shouldn’t be too hard a task, since this unforgettable woman was my mother.