One of my favorite television documentary shows covered the story of a middle-aged woman who was in the hospital having her fifth baby. The woman's name was Cleo. She was a crack addict.
The baby girl was born in relative good health but with the probability of short-term withdrawal symptoms from the drugs her mother had been using. With an overwhelming addiction, no money and no known father to help out, Cleo did what she had done with her four other children... she walked out of the hospital leaving her baby in the care of county social service workers.
Later, a camera crew followed a Social Services case-worker into a low income area of town. The caseworker appeared somewhat nervous as she knocked on an apartment door inside a dilapidated old building. An unattractive, heavyset woman with no front teeth opened the door and welcomed the social worker and camera crew inside. The woman was Cleo's older sister.
Her name was Bessie.
Upon learning her sister had recently given birth to a baby girl, Bessie was heartsick. After all, she had already adopted Cleo's other four children and was barely making ends meet!
The other kids were inside the apartment playing in the tiny, cluttered living room while the camera crew recorded Bessie's interview.
"I sho dunno waz gonna happen," Bessie said calmly. "I dunno how I kin take anuda kid a hers." "Why did you agree to take care of Cleo's other children?" the social worker asked.
"I taken em all cause I diden wan em to be seprated." Bessie answered, then paused as her eyes began to glisten.
"Dey’s all great kids. I loves em all," Bessie said proudly. "Dey gonna make sometin outa demselves. Dey gonna go ta collich. Maybe one a dem'll be a dawkor or somepin like dat."
"But we always vote bout tings here," Bessie added. "Deese kids has a say bout evertin."
The children appeared to be happy, well-mannered, full of energy and most of all, full of love.
"We voted to keep the baby here 'cause we want to all stay together," the oldest brother finally announced with a wide, toothy grin.
The next day, a camera crew followed again as Bessie went to the hospital to visit the baby. With her hand gently caressing the tiny girl's forehead, she stood next to the crib and prayed;
In a world where a person's worth is most often measured by appearance, physical condition, intelligence, wealth and power, many would say Bessie is a "loser."
Yes, many would say, "She's just a poor, ugly, stupid old fat person with no real life."
But I recalled another show I had seen recently on the Discovery Channel. Scientists were discussing the possibility of a meteor hitting the earth some day, destroying all of mankind.
Of course we all realize we're to die some day. But this televised "end-of-life" scenario made me pause and wonder: If I learned this world was soon to be entirely destroyed and I was about to come face to face with God, who would I rather be?
A billionaire with all the "stuff" I could ever want?
A powerful and popular U.S. President?
A famous celebrity with millions of adoring fans?
Or a "poor, ugly, stupid old fat person"... with the heart of Bessie?