“One Day at a Time,” Jan. 26, 2021

One of the finer qualities that sets humans apart from other species is our capacity to care about people we’ve never met.

I first became aware of that quality years ago when my late husband was battling cancer. I often wrote columns about our experiences. And I heard from readers around the country who said they or a loved one were battling cancer, too; that they were praying for my husband and me; and their children were praying for our children.

It’s quite a gift having someone whose face you’ve never seen write to tell you that they and their children are praying for you and yours. Their prayers didn’t change the outcome of my husband’s illness. But the loving kindness and compassion that moved them to pray for us healed his spirit even as he was dying. It comforted my children. And it changed me profoundly. I will never be cynical again.

If we can find it in our hearts to pray for strangers, anything is possible. I believe that. So I keep praying. I hope you do, too.

Last week, I wrote a column about how helpless I felt not being able, due to Covid-19, to visit my sister in South Carolina, where she’s been hospitalized after suffering a stroke.

Since writing that column, I’ve heard from countless readers who said they’re praying for my sister’s health and for my sanity.

I like those people a lot. But here’s a new twist to this story. No, I don’t make this stuff up. Two days after Bobbie was admitted to the hospital, our brother Joe—who is totally blind and severely disabled by cerebral palsy—took a bad fall and was taken by ambulance to the same hospital, where he was admitted for a series of tests.

Bobbie and Joe both tested negative for Covid-19 and were assigned to a non-Covid wing of the hospital. Their rooms are on separate floors, but that didn’t stop Joe from sweet-talking a nurse to put him in a wheelchair and roll him to Bobbie’s room.

Imagine my surprise when I called Bobbie and heard her say, “Hey, Sissy! I have a visitor!” Then she handed Joe the phone.

“Joe?” I said. “How the heck did you get in there?”

“Well, Sister,” Joe said, “it’s like this. I fell and I couldn’t get up. So I yelled real loud and my neighbor called 911. After I got admitted, I asked to see our sister and that’s how I got here.”

Joe has a way of making sense out of total senselessness.

“So how are you?” I said.

“Well,” he said, “I’ve been better, but I’ll be all right. My legs are still weak, but I’ll just take it one day at a time and remember to be thankful.”

Joe will move to a facility for physical therapy as soon as there’s an opening. And Bobbie just had surgery to remove a blockage in her carotid artery.

The hospital is so busy it’s hard to get calls through, but I spoke to both of them last night. Bobbie was groggy from pain meds. Joe was happy to get, not just one, but two supper trays with barbecue sandwiches, cole slaw, fries and ice-cream.

“How did you get two trays?”

“I told ‘em it was so good I wished I had more. So they gave me another one. I wish you could’ve tasted it. Hospital food is a lot better than it used to be.”

Their hospitalizations have caused a praying frenzy among their loved ones—cousins, nieces, nephews, friends and even people we’ve never met.

Sometimes I worry about what tomorrow may bring. Maybe you do, too. But like my brother, I want to live one day at a time and remember to be thankful. Today I am thankful for ambulance attendants and doctors and nurses; for family and neighbors and friends; for hospital beds and pain meds and barbecue sandwiches; and for the unexpected kindness of strangers and their prayers.

We’ve been better, all of us. But together, we’ll be all right.


  1. Sally Brown says

    The first sentence grabbed me because you wouldn’t know me from Adam’s house at, but I feel as though we are sisters! I just finished your novel and not only loved it, I felt so proud! As long as I’ve been reading you, I have always felt a connection…and I surely envy your ability to tell a story! Please know that both Bobbl and Joe are in my prayers!

  2. Praying for your sister and brother! It is hard to move with injured parts of body but they would get well soon!! Wish time was normal and you could go and visit them!

  3. Miriam Deluca says

    I will say a prayer for your sister and brother. You have a lot on your plate. Stay strong.

  4. A dear friend who used to work with you on the paper sends me your column every week, & for Christmas she gave me your book, which I loved! I am not a Church goer, but am a believer in miracles, the power of love, and a God. I pray in my own way, and will add Joe, Bobbie , & you and the entire family to the folks I pray for. Thank you for your hopefully, inspirational writings.

  5. Suzanne Bailey says

    I feel like I know your sister and brother – your stories about them have touched me for years. Prayers for their healing and for you as you go through this with them. . I can remember times when people prayed for me and I felt it.

  6. Ruth Atterberry says

    Sharon, I always enjoy your column and relate to the experiences you share. This one touched me in a deeper place. There are so many people in need of healing prayer (body, mind, spirit, relationships…) that the list can seem overwhelming. But this reminder of the tangible difference it makes give strength to continue. Thank you again.

  7. CHope Hall says

    I always am truly inspired by your writings. They show so much wisdom and make me determined to keep going. My husband and I are both old with its normal aches and pains. We have been basically housebound for nearly a year. We have had our first shot and our second is scheduled. Thankfully our daughter lives close to us and does our grocery shopping, driving to dr. appts farther away and our sons who live farther call and check on us. For that we are thankful and feel blessed. God be with you and yours and keep you safe in the hollow of His hands.

  8. Gail Tancreto says

    Such a wonderful community of people of faith. We need to always remind one another that we are not alone. And we need to pray for the strength to trust our sovereign God and live in the moment. Life has no guarantees, but it can be so wonderful and so difficult, but it will always be changing.
    Bless you, Sharon, for your thoughtful insight.
    Prayers always for you and yours.

  9. Linda Myers says

    My husband had a blockage in his carotid artery last February. He spent a few days in the hospital after having it removed. He is doing fine and I’m sure your sister will be as fortunate. So sorry Joe and Bobble had to be in the hospital but it’s great they had each other. Praying that this will just be a bump in the road.

  10. Diane Shehane says

    Oh how I love this! Yes, one day at a time & be thankful for even the small things. Praying for your brother & sister. How wonderful that they were able to see each other even if it was due to a bad accident. Love your columns. They make me smile & have hope.

  11. Many prayers for your sister and brother—and YOU! Also, everyone everywhere would benefit from listening to your brother’s thoughts and applying them to their own lives. “I’ll just take it one day at a time and remember to be thankful.” —— so perfect, especially during these trying times.

  12. Kate Sciacca says

    Been praying for your sister… and you—thanks for the update 😊 Joe sounds like a guy who could sweet talk a shark out of chomping down on any tasty treat… God bless his very dear soul.

    With God as our Father we are all sibs, yes? And we are called to “bear one another’s burdens”, yes? So of course we pray (and do whatever else we can do) when our sibs are in need…. as my dear friend (who died four years ago last Friday) often said, “what choice do we have?” 😊👍🏻

  13. Well, God bless Joe and your sister! Joe definitely knows how to make the best of a bad situation. He’s a life-lesson to all who know him or wish they did. All things are possible with God and it shows up in folks like Joe. No wonder you don’t lack for material/stories to write about. And, we your readers enjoy them and find them heart-warming. We need more…please keep it up! God bless you all.

  14. Sheila Thompson says

    I cannot imagine the feeling of helplessness when a loved on has been hospitalized & you are not allowed to go see them. How providential that Joe ended up in the same place! I’m sure he was your hero getting in to see your sister. 🙂
    We are in the over 70 bracket & both my husband & I got our vaccinations today. So far so good! The nurse giving me mine said the surveys are showing the shots are giving more immunity than they thought. Good news! Our 44 year old son & 15 year old grandson have just recovered from a round of COVID & are out of quarantine. It just shows it doesn’t matter your age. They did have a milder case.
    Won’t you be so glad when this is all over & back to normal–whatever our new normal may be. Prayers for you & your family!

    P.S. I LOVED your book!

  15. Kathy S Crosbie says

    I too believe in the power of prayers, I will surely pray for healing and comfort for your sis and brother and for you. I can’t imagine how you must feel not being able to be close to them to help out. Maybe you can get your hubby to do a realllly long road trip. thank you for your wonderful columns they always either make me cry a little or laugh. Like you are tapping me on the shoulder. lol

  16. Awwww….poor Joe ☹️…..God will get you all through this, Sharon and I know that you know that! I will pray for healing for Bobbie and Joe and for peace for you~💚🙏💚

  17. Carolyn J Bartelt says


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