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Power iHeartRadio Jingle Ball coming live from New York to the CW app and CWtv.com on December 9th. When the world gets in the way of your music, try the new Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2. Next-gen earbuds uniquely tuned to the shape of your ears. They use exclusive Bose technology that personalizes the audio performance to fit you. Delivering the world's best noise cancellation and powerfully immersive sound. So you can hear and feel every detail of the music you love. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, sound shape to you.
To learn more, visit Bose.com. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories and we tell stories about everything here on this show. From the arts to sports and from business to history and everything in between. Including your stories, send them to OurAmericanStories.com. They're some of our favorites. And now we bring you our Women of True Grit series. Our friend Edie Hand has come across many women whose stories of hardship, character, and perseverance caused her to write a book called Women of True Grit.
Now Edie is bringing some of those women along with many others to our airwaves. Today, Edie brings us the story of Mary Sparks. A tale of faith and family as told by her son Sparky.
Here's Edie. Mary Sparks exhibited strength of conviction throughout her life. But oddly enough, it all started with an affair, a stolen baby, and her Catholic faith. Here's her son Sparky to recount his mother's tale.
I guess the time to start this story is in 1943. My mother fell in love with a married man who was about to ship off to the war. Mary couldn't bear the idea of losing her love, so she attempted to join the Women's Army Corps.
A WAC for short. And when she joined the WAC, she took her physical and found out she was pregnant. My grandfather, great Polish gentleman, he shipped her to Chicago to a home for unwed mothers where she worked like a dog for several months and then had my sister. My sister who always made fun of me growing up and told me I was adopted. My grandmother took the train from Terre Haute, Indiana to Chicago to pick up my mother who had just had this child. And my mother had been very weak and very, really I think they abused her from the standpoint of making her cook and clean for other people in this home. So my mother and grandmother had put my sister up for adoption. And the people were supposed to be there that afternoon to pick up my sister. But on the way to the train station, neither could shake the feeling that something just wasn't right. And my mother said, I can't give up this baby.
I just can't do it. And my grandmother said, well, your father is not going to let us come home with a baby. We have to give up this child. And my mother said, do you want to give up the child? And my grandmother said, no, I don't want to. And my grandmother, who didn't speak English very well, Polish was her first language, told the cab driver to turn around when they got to the train station. And they went back to this home, walked in the door. The people who were adopting my sister were there to pick her up. And my mother just went in, grabbed my sister, and she and my grandmother ran down the steps, back into the cab, and fired off toward the train station.
My grandmother, as they were running out, grabbed all the paperwork she could get a hold of with both hands and held it in to her. And then they sorted it out on the train and destroyed it. But then they had Sparky's grandfather, Mary's father, to deal with.
But that wouldn't be much of a problem. So then they got home to Terre Haute. My grandmama just told him he was just going to have to get used to it. A year or two later, a World War II prisoner of war returned home to Indiana and began courting Mary. But she felt like she had to hide her child out of shame. There's several stories of her hiding my sister from him when he would come pick her up for a date. My grandmother and grandfather ran a boarding house.
And while that provided useful cover for a while, it only had to fail once for the gig to be up. After they got serious and they started dating, my dad came in one day unannounced, and there was my sister in a playpen. And my dad said, who is this baby? And my mother started crying and said, this is my child. And my dad said, well, who's the father? And my mother said, he has gone away. My dad looked down at her and said, well, this child needs a father.
So I guess we need to get married, Mary. And that's how he proposed to Mom. My sister found out all of this because this was a big secret in our family. We didn't know this story until my sister, when she was about 22, tried to get a passport. And she said, I was born in Terre Haute, Indiana. And they called her back the next day and said, Miss Bauer, you were born in Chicago.
What? You were born at a home for unwed mothers. And my sister, who had tormented me all my life, told me I was adopted. And then we started finding out all this story.
And I always thought that my sister was treated a little bit differently than the other kids. And both, all the brothers and sisters on the Sparks side of the family, 11 of them, and all the brothers and sisters on the Cummins, which they had Americanized from Kaminsky, side of the family kept this secret from all us kids growing up. Nobody knew.
Nobody needed to know. His parents didn't want any undue attention. And more than that, his father wanted his sister Sharon to have a loving home, full of love, conviction, and grit. And more of this remarkable story, an amazing love story. Our Women of True Grit series continues.
Mary Sparks' story after these messages. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation. A monthly gift of $17.76 is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to OurAmericanStories.com now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming.
That's OurAmericanStories.com. Power 2022 iHeartRadio Jingle Ball presented by Capital One. Y'all ready to have some fun? Starring Dua Lipa, Lizzo, Charlie Puth, The Backstreet Boys, The Kid LeRoy, AJR, and more. The biggest holiday party of the year. Jingle Ball!
Our iHeartRadio Jingle Ball coming live from New York to the CW app and CWTV.com on December 9th. When the world gets in the way of your music, try the new Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, next-gen earbuds uniquely tuned to the shape of your ears. They use exclusive Bose technology that personalizes the audio performance to fit you, delivering the world's best noise cancellation and powerfully immersive sound so you can hear and feel every detail of the music you love. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, sound shape to you.
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There's a better way to fly private. And we're back with our American stories and our Women of Sure Grit series and Mary Spark's story. Her boyfriend, when he found out that her daughter, born out of wedlock, didn't have a father, proposed on the spot and raised the daughter as his own. Now we bring you the rest of Mary's story of faith and family, told again by her son, Sparky. Here's Edie. The Sparks family had no shortage of children, seven to be exact.
And as good Catholics should expect that, Mary and Jesse did their best to raise their kids well, with faith and family at the heart of all they did. But in 1973, that all would be put to the test. I was a student at the University of Alabama. It was on a Thursday morning in the spring. I get a call from my mother and my mother said, I need you home. And I said, well, okay.
Spring break is in a couple of months and I'm planning on coming home to the farm. And she said, no, I need you home today. I said, what's going on? Is dad okay?
Your father's fine. And I need you home. And I said, Mama, I've got a test tomorrow, Friday. I said, I've got a test. She said, tell your professor that you've got a family emergency and you need to come home. I need you to be with me for a few days. Are you sick? No. And dad's okay.
Yeah. What will I tell him the emergency is? I'm sure if you just tell him there's a family emergency, he'll let you take your test next week. I had the toughest professor on just about on campus teaching music history.
Dr. Nicolosi. I knew I was dead that afternoon. Went to see him and I said, I have a family emergency. I'll be glad to take the test right now. But my mother has asked for me to be home in Indiana and I've got to leave. And he said, you just take the test next week and don't worry about it.
If this is for your mother and it's a family emergency. Then you need to go. I was sure that that man did not have a heart up until that point. But I became convinced that maybe he was okay. Got in my car, drove through the night. You know, I was in shock. The whole thing when I got in the car. I mean, I was so relieved when I got there to see all my brothers were okay. Because I knew something had happened to somebody and she just wasn't telling me. I mean, I was pretty sure I was coming up there for a funeral of some kind.
What a relief it was to find out that wasn't the case. And yet there was still that burning question that even Sparky's siblings were asking. Why are you home?
I said, I don't know. Mama wants me home. What's going on? She said, well, Daddy, the last two nights Daddy slept in the barn. What is going on?
We don't know. So we had this big breakfast. My mother had this huge plate of bacon and eggs and ham. And she said, here, take this out to the barn for your father. And I said, why is he sleeping out in the barn? Are you two getting divorced? She said, we're Catholic.
We don't get divorced. Take this out to your father. I said, okay, I'm headed out to the barn. Hey, Daddy, I thought you might be coming home. I said, what's going on? He said, I'm sure your mother will tell you when she's ready for you to know.
Little did Sparky know that he wasn't just going to find out what was going on, but also the depths of his mother's convictions and the lengths that she would go to in order to follow through with them. So after breakfast and clean up, everybody's out doing their chores. My mother said, come with me. We've got to go somewhere. We got in the car. I said, please tell me what's going on. She said, your father's had an affair with this young lady.
And he's gotten her pregnant. I need to talk her into giving us this baby so I can raise it right. So get in the car.
Let's go. She said, I just don't want you to say anything. So we drove to this lady's house, young lady.
It was a small town. I knew her. And we got to her house, her apartment, and she answered the door. She said, what do you want? My mother said, I'm Mary Sparks. You've been having an affair with my husband.
I understand you're pregnant. She said, yes, I am. And I want to talk to you, please.
May we come in? She said, this is my son Sparky. She said, I know him.
I said, well, we went in, we sat down. And she said, so here's the deal. She said, I will pay for all your expenses. She said, I'll give you $3,000 today. When the child is born, I'll give you $5,000.
When the child is born and you sign the paper for us to adopt him. She said, how do you know it's going to be a boy? She said, we're Sparks.
That's all we have. She said, I'll raise him right. If you ever want to be in his life, you can be. And she said, I know you probably don't feel too good about what you've done, but I'm not worried about that. She said, that's for God to decide, judge, not me. She said, will you pay my rent? She said, yes, I'll pay all your expenses. I'll pay your hospital bills. I'll pay everything.
And when the child is born and we adopt and I know you're okay, then it ends and we'll take the child to raise and I'll raise it as my own child. She said, all right. She said, have you got the money now?
She said, of course, I got it right here in my purse. And I said, I've got the paperwork. We signed it.
We went by the attorney's office, had him notarize it. That's the way my brother Jake came into the world. He knew he was adopted from day one. All my brothers did. But we also knew that we would treat him just like any other brother, and we did.
Once again, the Sparks family, in the face of infidelity, was given a gift and due to their faith, took a child in and accepted it without question as their own. Years later, I went to play golf with my dad. I said, I got to ask you, did you and mom resume relations with each other?
He said, of course. He said, it took two or three months, but your mother was tough as nails. But she always said that God would judge me. It wasn't her place to judge me. And we were married. I was her husband. She was my wife.
That's just the way it was. There was a moment in time that I forgave your mother. And years later, she forgave me. And thanks to Edie Han for the work there, and thanks for Sparky. What a remarkable story. And Mary Sparks, what a remarkable woman. And great job on the production, Robbie.
Just a beautiful job. Anyway, our lives are all messy. But if this is any testimony to what a true Christian walk looks like, this is it. And it's forgiveness, folks.
And it's hard to do, but it's what obedient people of faith do. And my goodness, in other families, this would have been a divorce and a mess. And who knows what would have happened to that child. And in this family, the child is loved.
I'll raise him right, Mary Sparks said to this poor young girl. Life's tough. But how you deal with these circumstances, we can learn from stories like these. And the relationship got healed. The wife forgave. He forgave himself, too. Because in the end, the guy's got to forgive himself.
And of course, their God forgave both of them. Mary Sparks's story on Our American Stories. Imagine air travel that's simple, hassle-free, and fast. That's Surf Air. Save hours on every trip. Avoid busy, crowded terminals and fly from airports closer to your home.
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There's a better way to fly private. So you never became a soccer star. But you could still show out during the FIFA World Cup 2022 with cool soccer swag from Frito-Lay, the official USA snack of the FIFA World Cup 2022. Add your picture to the Golden World Soccer Ball. Then, pass the ball to fellow fans for a chance to score custom swag. Scan the QR code on specially marked bags of Leis, Cheetos, or Doritos, or visit FritoLayScore.com to join the Pass the Ball Challenge. No purchase necessary.
Open to legal residence at 50 USDC. 18 plus C rules at FritoLayScore.com. Power 2022 iHeartRadio Jingle Ball presented by Capital One. Y'all ready to have some fun? Starring Zua Lipa, Lizzo, Charlie Puth, The Backstreet Boys, The Kid LAROI, AJR, and more. The biggest holiday party of the year. Jingle Ball! Coming live from New York to the CW app and CWTV.com on December 9th.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-17 10:02:10 / 2022-11-17 10:10:22 / 8