a boy, a woman, a dress, and me


old oak

Now abideth faith, hope, and charity.  And the greatest of these is charity.

Charity.  That’s love.  I love.  Love my family, love my blogger friends, love everyone I associate with.  Why should I not?  You all are – squeaky clean, hair shining, look good – you even smell good.  You read my posts, comment with encouraging words, laugh at my jokes, and cry with my tears.  Love.  Love?  Perhaps not.

Let me tell you a story.  It involves a woman, a boy, a dress, and me.  The woman was Billy’s mother.  I don’t recall any other name for her.  She was like a tree.  No, not tall and willowy.  She was like those trees that grow down in south Texas.  Those along the coast.  Wind blown, and bent in the storms.  Ugly, knarled and old.  Surely not so old in years, however, since she had borne a child not so many years before.  She walked Billy to school each morning.  Came in the building with him.  He was not overtly rude to her but he tried to put some distance between them.  He was embarrassed.  There, most of the kids and their mothers were plain, poor, and unkempt.  But Billy was cuter, smarter, cleaner, less shabbily dressed, a cut above the rest, the lone evidence of this woman’s pride and the beneficiary of her love.

Now to my part in the story.  Sunday morning.  The church was beautiful.  The performers talented.  The people, like you, were pretty people, handsome men, lovely ladies, squeaky clean, shining hair, looked good, smelled good.  You know the kind I mean.  The preacher was passionate as he said something like this,  “Anyone can love the lovely but how much do you love the unlovely?”  Billy’s mother.  Billy’s mother.  Billy’s mother.  Compelled by a mission to reach out to her, I went to her home.  I specifically remember two things I saw there.  One was a dried up bologna skin; the other was a utility bill.  I would like to tell you that I paid the utility bill for her, and that I took her and Billy into my home for a real meal.  But I cannot, because I did not.  I did attempt to do something however.  One of the things I knew I could do was give her a dress.  I can always find a dress to give away. There is never a time when I don’t have dresses I haven’t worn in ages.  Some don’t fit, some are out of style, some have to be dry-cleaned, some are uncomfortable, some are ugly, some have to be ironed, some are ok, but they have a tired look.  But, LOVE spoke to me,  “Why would you add more ugly to her life:  How about your brown dress?”  My brown dress!  I liked my brown dress.  It was comfortable, easy to take care of, and looked pretty good, buttoned down the front, and accented with a gold and orange leaf lapel pin.  Just the kind of dress that lady needed.  I knew what LOVE demanded.  No other dress would do.  I took the dress to her.  I don’t recall any part of our conversation, but I hope LOVE talked to her.

My story stops short here.  You see.  Only a few days later, Billy’s mother died.  I don’t know what happened to Billy, but I hope that during his mama’s funeral, he didn’t try to put distance between them.  I hope he did not see a scraggly old tree.  I hope he saw a protecting elm overshadowing him with daily trudges to school; I hope he saw the evergreen with never a day off, faithful to him even unto death; I hope he saw an apple tree that bore one almost perfect piece of fruit – a “cut above the rest”; I hope he saw an autumn oak; I hope he thought she looked pretty lying there in her LOVE-given wash-n-wear—the brown dress accented with an orange and gold lapel pin.

How puny is what we generally call love!  Now abideth faith, hope, and charity.  Charity – being willing to give away what we don’t want!  Get rid of it so we can have storage space for other things we don’t want!  No.  No.  No.

From Billy’s mother to Jesus Christ, I have learned that LOVE puts all its resources, meager or abundant, into the object of its affection.

For God so loved the world, that He gave – He gave – He gave



About oneta hayes

ABOUT ME Hello. To various folks I am Neat’nee, Mom, Grandma Neta, Gramma, Aunt Neta, Aunt Noni, Aunt Neno, and Aunt Neto (lots of varieties from little nieces and nephews). To some I’m more like “Didn’t you used to be my teacher?” or “Don’t I know you from someplace?” To you, perhaps, I am a Fellow Blogger. Not “fellow” like a male or a guy, but “fellow” like a companion or an adventurer. I would choose to be Grandma Blogger, and have you pull up a chair, my website before you, while I tell you of some days of yore. I have experienced life much differently than most of you. It was and is a good life. I hope to share nuggets of appreciation for those who have gone before me and those who come after me. By necessity you are among those who come after me and I will tell you of those who came before. Once upon a time in a little house on a prairie - oops, change that lest I commit plagiarism - and change that “house on the prairie” to “dugout on the prairie.” So my story begins...
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39 Responses to a boy, a woman, a dress, and me

  1. We naturally, define love as a feeling or an emotional attachment. God’s love is so much more. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. God bless and keep you.

  2. Wandering Soul says:

    What a touching incident. It was so kind of you to do that and also very nice of you to see beyond the physical deformities. Not many can do that!

  3. artseafartsea says:

    Beautiful story. You are a good person. we need more like you in the world.

    • oneta hayes says:

      Marion, you are kind. Really the way I saw it was through the eyes of my own selfishness. I really didn’t want to give that dress away! I did submit and do it anyway, but my every inclination was to give her three or four that I didn’t want! But there are times when I decide to do the right thing anyway. That’s about all you can say for me. I have another story that is terribly funny to me because I know how slow I was to “give in.” Maybe I’ll tell it another time. Really it all stems from a relationship with Jesus that is just beautiful beyond words! Many people know and experience that, but others do not. They live cake without the icing!

  4. shoreacres says:

    I learned the lesson of your dress with food contributions to a local ministry. One year, I decided that it just wasn’t right to put only dried milk and boxed mac and cheese in my Thanksgiving box. I added onions, and garlic. Canned tomatoes. Good juices. Energy bars, Raisins. Dried cranberries. And, for each box, a $25 HEB (local grocery) card, so they could go and buy what THEY wanted. Someone said, “What if they buy a bottle of wine?” I said, “So what. I buy a bottle of wine for THanksgiving dinner. Why is wrong for them to do the same?” I’ve never regretted it, and I do the same now, every year.

    • SarahC says:

      Having received just last year you did it up right! We were on the receiving end and they chose Sam club for store and got us so many things. Someday I will pay it forward….pray for those needing work too. God bless.

      • oneta hayes says:

        This is from Oneta to Sarah C. I was in a church clothes closet the other day when a young mother came in to get clothes for her growing boy. She was bringing in the clothes he had just out grown. What a nice thing she was able to do! About jobs – I like Psalm 128:2 in which God calls “blessed,” those who “shall eat the labour of his own hands. If is definitely God’s plan for those who want jobs to be blessed in them. He cares.

    • oneta hayes says:

      Feels good, doesn’t it? To go the second mile. Thanks for confirming a better way.

    • oneta hayes says:

      Linda, my reply got shuffled down a couple of spaces. It is below Sarah who expresses thanks to you as a person in the role of receiver right now. It is always nice to be able to be a giver. Thanks.

  5. SarahC says:

    We never know how received so we must give and be a positive light,…,people may never have received gift or help from others. I give encouragement when I can. Enjoy visiting you here.

    • oneta hayes says:

      Those are kind words, Bill. I hope everybody catches the fact that I struggle to do good sometimes. Without God, I would be a genuine mess! But he is a great rewarder for those who are obedient to him. I think of Psalms 37:6 where we are told “He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light;and thy judgment as the noonday.” If God can use my experiences to show his faithfulness, I bless him. I can’t think of the location right now but there is a scripture in Paul’s writings that basically means: We give to others so they give thanks to God, so God continues to give to us. A nice cycle to be a part of!

  6. Faye says:

    Beautiful blog my dear Oneta . Warmth, Life and Love just like the reflection of your soul and His Presence in you.

  7. Dawn Marie says:

    You have a wonderful way of reaching into our soul with your honest words of love and what love looks like when viewed through an open heart of giving. Blessings to you!

  8. SarahC says:

    In general, i will say, i am so tired of oh Anyone can do thus n such,,,no some of us cannot. We can however do what we can, say thanks if we are the receiver, and to try to help people laugh and smile in a blog or something as life is kinds of short 😀 Have a great week everyone! going to be doing the poem a day writing 101, meet me some New people 😀 always more to encourage!

  9. oneta hayes says:

    I think you will enjoy your writing 101 course. I did. Tempted to take something else this go-around; it is such a good time to bond with new blogging friends. But I wanted to do more Christmas posts this month, also I want to do more with some of the Challenges. I wrote for one of those today. Will post tomorrow. I’ll look for you on alumni; hope you will continue visited at my place too. Happy “poem writing” to you.

  10. WanderLaur says:

    Your writing is beautiful. Thank you for sharing this lovely story (with such a catchy title!). It really struck me – we don’t love the unlovely. Something to think about for sure! And good for you to take action after such thought.

  11. judyjourneys says:

    Oneta, I sense that you and I (nearing the end of life’s journey) are both just beginning to reveal some of our closely guarded “secrets” for God to get the glory however He works it out. Isn’t it wonderful how God confirmed you had done His will with the brown dress?

    • oneta hayes says:

      Judy, I think I understand what you are saying about revealing precious times with Jesus as we draw near the end of life. I am considering writing a post about this because I am somewhat troubled by telling some incidents in case it appears I am getting glory rather than God. It is true that there are moments of unbelievable intimacy with Jesus when I have been obedient. When I’m not I don’t have much of a story to tell. I may not even recognize what a joy I have missed. Therefore, my stories involve my obedience, making it hard to tell without appearing to “elevate” myself. Add that to the times Jesus told others to “not tell” has hampered some of my “telling;” however, I would hate to go to my grave without letting others know of the wonder involved in a life lived for Jesus! It has been a most amazing journey with Jesus! About the dress – I did not know “Billy’s mother” had died until a week or so after she was gone, so I did not actually see her wearing the dress. It is more of a logical “discernment” that it likely happened. The best I remember we only knew about her passing after Billy had been absent from school a while. We probably just heard it from neighborhood kids. I think he was taken by some family member from out of state rather than becoming a ward of the state. That I don’t know about for sure.

  12. dawnlizjones says:

    Ah! What a perfect lesson for me to hear! “When you do it unto the least of these, My children, you do it unto Me.” That includes giving my best. Wow, thanks Oneta!

    • oneta hayes says:

      Thank you, dawnliz, I always enjoy your “lessons” also. You are so good at taking the commonplace and turning it into a wonderful lesson in spiritual walk. So glad to know you.

  13. Hayley says:

    Oneta, this was such a beautiful tale – it’s hard to give away the things we love, but you gave it anyway. You are inspiring, humble and a wonderful story teller of truth and light xx

    • oneta hayes says:

      Hayley, I’m so glad you enjoy my stories, and that you take time to tell me so! Wish I could hook my own grandchildren into listening and reading. They love me, of that I am sure, but life is so busy and grandma’s always there. I know how they feel. How I wish I had listened to my grandmother’s stories! What wonderful things I could have passed on to you! My little grandmother with her Pond’s complexion! How did she feel when she found herself pregnant in 1913 – not married yet. Of course, we could not have talked about that story. Blessings to you, little Hayley!

      • Hayley says:

        Blessings to you too Dear Oneta. This Christmas may be the last I spend with my Gran who is 86, since I am moving to the other side of the world. 😦 I will be sure to listen long to her stories and will take as much joy in listening to hers as I do hearing yours. Thank you for sharing your lovely tales of wisdom ❤ xx

        • oneta hayes says:

          Thanks, Hayley. Yes, do get as many grandma stories as you can contain in that corner of your memory box! Give her a message from me: “Dear Hayley’s Gran: I’m sure you know you have spawned a rare jewel in your Hayley girl. Give her stories to share. I’m sure grandmothers are the same world wide. We identify with each other for good and bad! I think we are both blessed by much more good than bad.” 😀

  14. amanpan says:

    Thank you sharing your beautiful story.

  15. astridswords says:

    Love is truly a special gift to share, even in times when it does not seem to be understood it will have great meaning =)

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