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Dear Tom,

My 37-year-old daughter is a single mother of two.  she is originally from Miami, but 16 years ago, she found out that her oldest brother’s two-year-old daughter was being abused by his second wife up in Alaska – and my (then) 21 year old Willonia made it her mission to rescue her niece.

Now, you know that winters in Miami nice & warm – and my daughter knew how cold it gets up north and she needed a good coat to keep her warm.  So she went to a goodwill and found a fox fur coat for $40 – it was warm and classy!

Willona drove 5000 miles to get her baby niece in Fairbanks, Alaska…without cruise control.  Then she turned around and drove 3750 miles to her birth mother in Cincinnati.  After that long trip, she decided to stay for a while.  She found a job at a daycare, got herself a little apartment, then love happened & some babies came along – her daughter Mikaela just turned 10 and her son Jaden is 5-years-old.

My daughter works very hard to care for her family and has never been on a real vacation.  Last year, she and her cousin decided to go on a cruise together.  She was saving up, but had to use that money this past January to come back home to Miami and bury her father.

This will be my daughter’s first cruise ever – she has over half saved up for a 4-day voyage this Memorial Day weekend departing from Miami.  If she goes, I will get a chance to see my baby on the Friday before she sets sail!

THURSDAY MORNING MOM: Willona Marie Bowens  was originally published on