Caption: Abbie Waters
Abbie Waters 

Abbie Waters: The Habit of Being

From: Charles McGuigan
Series: A Grain of Sand
Length: 55:07

Abbie Catherine Waters was just nine years and two days old when she left this world. I have heard men and women who knew Abbie refer to her as an “old soul”, yet she was also innocent and fresh as the morning dew. Abbie confronted the terror of her disease with more grace than any human being I have ever met. And when she was gone, and her “peeps”, as she called every student at Holton Elementary School, gathered to celebrate her life, remarkable things occurred that were, for want of a better word, miraculous. Read the full description.


Also in the A Grain of Sand series

Caption: Reverend Death Alane Cameron Miles, Credit: Rebecca D'Angelo

Reverend Death (27:26)
From: Charles McGuigan

Alane Cameron Miles was groomed throughout her life to be comfortable with death and the dying. She had a knack for it and would ultimately become Reverend Death.
Caption: No Room At The Inn, Credit: Charles McGuigan

Christmas Stories (54:55)
From: Charles McGuigan

Three Christmas stories. In the first story family nativities build homes in Haiti. The second story is about a man and a machine in Williamsburg, Virginia who create A ...
Caption: Frances Hilary McGuigan, Credit: Doug Dobery

Alzheimer's: Slipping Away (54:59)
From: Charles McGuigan

This journey begins in the deepest recesses of the human brain--the hippocampus, and ends in the memory support unit of a retirement community. It's about Alzheimer's disease ...
Caption: PM was one of the North Side witches., Credit: Catherine McGuigan

The North Side Witch Hunt (26:55)
From: Charles McGuigan

Witch-hunts are curious phenomena, and thoroughly reactionary in nature. They generally begin with an inexplicable event of one kind or other—cows unable to give milk, the ...
Piece image

Alzheimer's: Slipping Away Part 2 (27:30)
From: Charles McGuigan

Alzheimer’s sucks an entire life away, bit by bit at first, almost imperceptibly. By degrees memories--short-term, and then long-term--begin to fade. And with the memories, ...
Caption: Madison County, Credit: Charles McGuigan

The Dispossessed of the Shenandoah (58:40)
From: Charles McGuigan

More than 75 years ago Shenandoah National Park opened to the public for the first time. One of the most scenic routes in Virginia— Skyline Drive wends its way through the ...
Caption: Bill Kirchen

Bill Kirchen Hammer of the Honky Tonk gods, Part 2 (27:32)
From: Charles McGuigan

Bill Kirchen has been called the Titan of the Telecaster, the King of Dieselbilly. He got his start back in the late sixties with Commander Cody and Hist Lost Planet Airmen. ...
Caption: Bill Kirchen

Bill Kirchen: Honky Tonk god, Part 1 (27:45)
From: Charles McGuigan

He’s been called the Titan of the Telecaster, the King of Diesel Billy. Bill Kirchen is all that and a lot more. He’s a master in a league of his own, an electric guitar ...
Caption: PRX default Piece image

Crossing Over (28:06)
From: Charles McGuigan

At just sixteen Victor left his home in Guadalajara and crossed the river into Texas only to be picked up by immigration agents and returned to Mexico. But Victor wasn't ...
Caption: Calvin Jollimore and his daughter., Credit: Charles McGuigan

Island Stories PEI Cradle on the Waves Part 7 (27:06)
From: Charles McGuigan

Prince Edward Island is known the world over for its mussels. Nothing quite like them and those produced on PEI account for 80 percent of all mussels consumed in North ...

Piece Description

1 Comment Atom Feed

Caption: PRX default User image

Beautiful and sad story

Touching story of a life that was cut short by disease. The dignity and strength that Abbie showed are impressive and would put may "adults" to shame. Thanks for documenting this story.

Broadcast History

Aired in two parts on WRIR-FM 97.3


Abbie Waters The Habit of Being INTRO
This is Charles McGuigan with A Grain of Sand and I invite you to listen to Abbie Waters: The Habit of Being. Somebody’s about to say something, just listen.

I first met Abbie Waters a little over two years ago when I was talking with David Hudson, principal of Holton Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia. We found ourselves in the art room and there were only two other people in there with us—Rolanda Scott, the art instructor, and Abbie Waters, a student who was about seven at the time.
I can tell you this much about Abbie based on that meeting: she had no fear of the mike and her eyes were radiant blue and wide and they could burn a whole right through you. She handled a paint brush with the deftness of a professional artist. At that moment she was painting ceramic leaves, with alternate brush strokes of bright gree...
Read the full transcript

Timing and Cues

"... she was climbing upward." "Welcome back to..."

"... to the hospital." "Abbie Waters lived..."

"... I love you." "Welcome back to..."

Musical Works

Title Artist Album Label Year Length
Original music Charles Arthur :00