It Only Takes One

As a young kid I remember never feeling comfortable in my own skin. I always felt:

  • My hair wasn’t straight enough,
  • My clothes weren’t good enough,
  • My dad drove an old car,
  • I never had any money,
  • We didn’t live in a big house,
  • I was always the young guy on my block.

Now if this weren’t enough, I never felt particularly

  • Smart
  • Pious
  • Handsome
  • Good

All in all, I remember a feeling a bit like broken toy.

Here’s a story of how broken boys get fixed.

I was 10 when I got a Queen Anne News paper route. It was my first paid job. I delivered a local newspaper around Queen Anne Hill for the spectacular sum of 15 cents per home, per month. To get paid I had to go door to door and say the magic words: “Collecting for the Queen Anne News!”

Every month I’d have brief, lively encounters with maybe 50 different adults. I witnessed people in all sorts of moods and temperaments. Some were perpetually gruff, some happy, some resentful, some funny, some downright scary.

I remember knocking on the door of an old woman named Mrs. Coe. She was frail and living in a tiny home. She always paid me in pennies – including a ten cent tip! And, she would usually invite me in for milk and cookies.

She was always delighted to see me and treated me with kindness and interest. She would ask me questions about my day, about my family, about school, about my sports, about just about anything. She seemed to take a great delight in every little detail. After 30 minutes or so I’d get up to leave and Mrs. Coe would give me a big hug and tell me how proud she was of me.

When I left Mrs. Coe’s home I felt terrific about my life and perfectly at peace with myself.


There was no question that I enjoyed my monthly visits to Mrs. Coe because of the way she made me feel about me. Later, I learned that Mrs. Coe had lost her only son in World War II and her husband not long after. She had a heart full of love to give and no family to give it to, so she selected a few neighbor kids to shower with kindness.

Mrs. Coe ultimately did more to help me become reconciled to me than almost anybody during those early years. I was pretty much guaranteed that as long as I had that Queen Anne News paper route I could find a reason at least once a month to feel good about being Pat.

It helped me learn it’s okay to reach out when I’m feeling low, that there’s always a way through hard things.

I’ve also come to discover there are endless opportunities for any of us to be “Mrs. Coe” for someone else who needs it.

Just a thought…


[Originally published January 9, 2016.]

Copyright © 2016 Patrick J. Moriarty. All Rights Reserved.

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2 thoughts on “It Only Takes One”

  1. M LaRussa

    Thanks for your “Coe” thought. Hit it home with me. I delivered the same paper to Magnolia families….and “almost” the same years of the 1900’s….
    Go Hawks & Vikings, brrrr!!!
    Love Michael & Johanna Sherman LaRussa

  2. pat moriarty

    I bet there are many out there that have been touched by Mrs. Coe’s that have ministered to many a lonely young heart.

    ~ Thanks Mike and Johanna

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