A Wonderful Life

She kisses his head. Throws the wheelchair in back. The truck roars to life and they’re gone. Alabama plates. Enormous TV-shaped box in the bed of the truck.

The parking lot at Target. He has no legs below the knees. His upper body is well-developed. He has a large handlebar mustache. Tattoos.

A young girl helps him out of a truck. She is eighteen at the most. Maybe nineteen.

She lifts him from the driver’s seat into a wheelchair. She is a tall girl, strapping, broad shoulders. Jeans and boots.

I can see them across the parking lot.

And even though it’s none of my business, I offer to help the girl. She too busy holding him in her arms to answer.

So he answers for her. “Thanks, boss, but my daughter’s got it. She does it all the time.”

He’s not fooling. She is stronger than a new box of Borax.

I watch her place him into his wheelchair, then buckle him in. He kisses her cheek. And away they roll into Target.

I see them in the store, too. He wheels through the aisles, laughing with the girl. There’s a look fathers give daughters. And there’s a look daughters give fathers. I can spot a daddy’s-girl ten miles away.

They must be Christmas shopping because every few words, he says, “You think Mama will like that one?”

They are in the technology section. He’s parked before a TV that’s large enough to require a movie ticket to look at. She’s standing beside him. She towers over him by at least three feet.

The screen plays “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

And I love this movie.

In fact, I’ve seen it so many times I could quote the dialogue with my hands tied behind my back and eyes closed—hanging upside down. Backwards. In the dark.

In Español.

The scene they’re watching:

George Bailey is a boy, working the soda counter in the drugstore. Young Mary is at the bar.

Mary leans forward to say to George, “Is THIS the ear you can’t hear on?”

George doesn’t answer.

So Mary whispers into his deaf ear: “George Bailey, I’ll love you ‘til the day I die.”

If that doesn’t light your fire your wood is wet.

Later, I see them in the checkout aisle. I wonder if they notice I’ve been following them around the store for so long I’ve forgotten why I’m even here?

And in the parking lot, his daughter places him behind his steering wheel again. She bear-hugs him, then straps him in.

She kisses his head. Throws the wheelchair in back. The truck roars to life and they’re gone. Alabama plates. Enormous TV-shaped box in the bed of the truck.

And I’ve been thinking about him all day.

I don’t know who he is, or how his story goes. I don’t know what sort of pain he’s gone through. And I don’t know how he can remain cheerful in the face of hard times. I don’t know how much he suffers, where he lives, or who he calls for help.

I do, however, know a few things.

I know he likes “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I know that life doesn’t have to be pretty to be beautiful.

And I know that on Christmas morning, he will wake to a daughter who is strong.

Strong enough to lift him up.

22 comments

  1. Maureen Sudlow - November 29, 2017 8:15 am

    …and that’s all he needs for happiness. Thank you

    Reply
  2. Pamela McEachern - November 29, 2017 8:24 am

    What is so simple is the love, it’s all any one of us needs, love for each other. Thank you Sean
    Peace and Love from Birmingham

    Reply
  3. Susan Hammett Poole - November 29, 2017 9:02 am

    Precious slice of life and love that you’ve shared with us. Thank you, Sean.

    Reply
  4. ponder304 - November 29, 2017 10:33 am

    Wow! Just wow! How full my soul is!

    Reply
  5. Lucretia Jones - November 29, 2017 11:49 am

    What a wonderful gift to have a daughter that will lift you up. Thank you, Sean. Lucretia P.S. I too love ” It’s a Wonderful Life”

    Reply
  6. Rachel Lindsey - November 29, 2017 11:50 am

    IT IS A WONDERFUL LIFE! 😝

    Reply
  7. Carole - November 29, 2017 12:51 pm

    ‘I know that life doesn’t have to be pretty to be beautiful’. I’m going to hang that quote up if I may. Thank you for all your words. Beautiful. We need more of you.

    Reply
  8. Judy O'Bar - November 29, 2017 1:02 pm

    I am from Alabama, have lived in Texas for over ten years, and introduced to your writings by a young Alabama friend. Sean, your ability to make ithers see what is right in front of us is amazing, and I thank you for that. Your writing always makes me think a bit and maybe brings a smile or tears. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  9. Sharon Hand - November 29, 2017 1:04 pm

    1 Corinthians 13. “But the greatest of these is love.”

    Reply
  10. Shirley Skelton Northington - November 29, 2017 1:10 pm

    ….and the greatest of these is love. Thank you, Sean.

    Reply
  11. Connie - November 29, 2017 1:13 pm

    Wow. No words this morning except that was beautiful.

    Reply
  12. Virginia Watson Snell - November 29, 2017 1:42 pm

    I know exactly the love that they felt, I was a Daddy’s girl too! Thank you for sharing this. My Daddy went to heaven in 2001 and my heart still hurts.

    Reply
  13. Noah Funderburg - November 29, 2017 2:05 pm

    We watch IAWL every year. For many years with another couple. We all “talked” our way through the dialogue. Still do. So I might could match you on repeating dialogue, even hanging upside down, but definitely not in Spanish. Thanks for sharing this, and all your stories.

    Reply
  14. Jack Darnell - November 29, 2017 3:02 pm

    It is a wonderful life, and thanks for pointing out some of the more wonderful points.

    Reply
  15. Bob Hubbard - November 29, 2017 3:10 pm

    If you are a grown man with a daughter, this story has the ring of reality. There’s a special relationship there that others just dont understand.

    Reply
  16. Genia Southall - November 29, 2017 3:18 pm

    It is a wonderful life!

    Reply
  17. Ralph - November 29, 2017 3:19 pm

    Great story, you have a wonderful heart!

    Reply
  18. Barbara Assell - November 29, 2017 5:25 pm

    For some reason almost all of your posts bring tears to my eyes. I am so thankful that you are making me remember what’s important in life.

    Reply
  19. Sharon Allemang - November 29, 2017 5:42 pm

    You have again made me cry, but also thankful for all God has given me!!I have been so blessed to be able to read such inspirational words every morning!! Thank you Sean for your words!!

    Reply
  20. Cathy Callender - November 30, 2017 4:24 am

    I so love your writing! You see tenderness in the toughest, beauty in the most dismal and hope through all of life’s trials. Thank you! Thank you for sharing your amazing vision with the world!

    Reply
  21. Janet Lee - November 30, 2017 6:32 am

    Simply beautiful!!

    Reply
  22. Deena - December 1, 2017 8:41 pm

    Prayers for this good man and his daughter.. thank you for the story!

    Reply

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