Alabama Writer

Many of the hotel guests are young. Several use wheelchairs, or walking canes. Some are communicating in American Sign Language.

Mobile, Alabama—I’m in a large hotel lobby. There are hundreds of people here. I’m people-watching.

Many of the hotel guests are young. Several use wheelchairs, or walking canes. Some are communicating in American Sign Language.

A boy sits next to me. A teenager. He’s got hearing aids in both ears and thick glasses.

“IS THIS SEAT TAKEN?” he asks.

“No sir,” I say.

“GOOD! I’M WAITING FOR MY MOM!”

Congratulations.

It doesn’t take long for him to learn my name. And soon, every other word he uses is my name.

Talking come easy for this kid. He has the personality of an azalea blossom and the smile of a professional conversationalist.

He’s here attending a conference for people with disabilities. This is his first year, and he’s excited. Not only about the conference, but about his hotel room, located on the top floors.

“I CAN SEE EVERYTHING FROM MY ROOM, SEAN!” he points out. “EVEN BIRDS AND CLOUDS!”

My, my.

“ARE YOU WAITING FOR YOUR MOM, TOO, SEAN?”

“No,” I point out. “And you don’t have to keep using my name.”

While we talk, he removes a notepad from his pocket and takes notes. He asks me about myself. He reminds me to talk slow while he scribbles.

“You a writer?” I ask.

“YES,” he says. “MY MOM TOLD ME TO ALWAYS WRITE STUFF DOWN SO I DON’T FORGET, SEAN!”

Smart lady.

He flips through pages and and shares some of his previous notes. His whole life is in that notebook. He writes about insulin-pump maintenance, doctor-appointments, birthday parties, cleaning his bedroom, meetings with speech therapists, driving lessons, lunch with his daddy.

“THIS MONDAY IS LUNCH WITH MY DAD!”

I ask about his father. And from what I learn, his daddy left home when he discovered his son had struggles.

The kid just got reintroduced to his father for the first time last year.

“I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW I HAD A DAD!” he said. “I THOUGHT MY MOM GOT PREGNANT ALL BY HERSELF. BUT THAT CAN’T HAPPEN, YOU KNOW, BECAUSE GIRLS NEED BOYS TO GET PREGNANT.”

I seem to recall hearing that somewhere.

His father has cancelled their last two lunch dates. A thirty-minute midday meal with his son has been nigh impossible to work into his busy schedule.

Either way, it doesn’t seem to make my friend sad. During our short time together, I’ve come to believe this child is not capable of sadness.

He’s a dedicated author. He takes notes on most everything I say. And he uses my Christian name more than my mother.

Speaking of mothers. His mother arrives. She’s a nice-looking woman with a tired face.

He stands. I notice a thin tube running beneath his T-shirt to his backpack. We shake hands.

His mother says, “I guess he wrote about you in his notes. He only does that with people he REALLY likes. I hope you don’t mind. He just doesn’t wanna forget you.”

Not at all, ma’am.

I hope your son doesn’t mind if I return the favor.

24 comments

  1. Sam Hunneman - July 1, 2017 9:07 pm

    A visit and a blessing all rolled into one. Dad doesn’t have a clue what he’s missing. All that love, all that adoration, just for a little time and attention. Nicely done, Sean.

    Reply
  2. Donna Holifield - July 1, 2017 9:09 pm

    Beautiful story!
    It made me teary!
    I love your writings!

    Reply
  3. Kristen Hughes Hester - July 1, 2017 9:12 pm

    Good one, Sean.

    Reply
  4. Judy Miller - July 1, 2017 9:15 pm

    It seems to me that kids with disabilities don’t even know sadness exists. They are always smiling and they want to talk about everything. If you take the time to interact with them, I don’t care if it’s Down’s Syndrome, deafness, cerebral palsy–they love to converse and they have really unique ideas on things. Sometimes it makes us “normals” uncomfortable, but they never feel that way. You can’t stop them from smiling and yakking away. I love it!

    Reply
  5. Jack Quanstrum - July 1, 2017 9:15 pm

    You put a pleasant smile on my face with your story. You meet the neatest people. Your story warmed my heart. Thank you!

    Reply
  6. Gayle Dawkins - July 1, 2017 9:54 pm

    I’m amazed at how many interesting people you know and meet Sean. You should start taking notes LOL. I seam to always go into my peaceful place when reading your stories. Again, great job. Gayle

    Reply
  7. doris wismer - July 1, 2017 10:11 pm

    You capture the father-child sadness with the simplest words. Great job.

    Reply
  8. Rene Hodges - July 1, 2017 10:23 pm

    I love this. My daughter is giving up a month of her life to manage the rock climbing program at boy scout camp this summer. I wish you could have read the letter written to her by the father of a nearly blind scout who is also on the autism spectrum. She took a special interest in this kid and he was successful at learning the skill. As a matter of fact, she says he’s really good at it. Needless to say, the tears did flow!

    Reply
  9. Randy Prewitt - July 1, 2017 10:25 pm

    You were a little late today. Computer problems, probably. Anyway — since thousands of people checked back repeatedly — you must be well worth it. I think so.
    And I know you can’t do it, but somehow I wish you could follow up on the lives of some of the wonderful people you bring to life on my computer screen. You probably wish you could too.
    BTW — please let me know if I’m using too many commas. Thanks.

    Reply
  10. Kathy Phillips - July 1, 2017 11:23 pm

    Everything you write about warms my heart. That was so sweet. I love children and anyone like him. I love it. Keep writing.

    Reply
  11. Bobbie - July 1, 2017 11:26 pm

    What a really nice way to close out my day….thanks!

    Reply
  12. Cyndy Drew - July 1, 2017 11:53 pm

    Sean my 22yr old grandson would love to sit and talk to you. He would tell you all about the big black bass he caught on the St. Johns River. Where he went and what bait he used and how he fought it to the boat but he would have to tell you from memory because he can’t read or write. Thank you for taking the time to speak to the young guy, you probably made his day. You sure made mine, keep up the good work and keep writing

    Reply
  13. Connie - July 2, 2017 12:17 am

    So glad you finally showed up in my feed. It goes without saying that the “daddy” in this story is the one missing out. Bless you for being the kind of face that enables people to talk to you, and a double blessing for sharing those priceless encounters with us.

    Reply
  14. Susan in Georgia - July 2, 2017 1:22 am

    From the least to the greatest, you make the folks you write about unforgettable to us, your readers. Thank you 😙 Sean.

    Reply
  15. Mary Lee - July 2, 2017 1:40 am

    Beautiful…the last sentence was wonderful to me. Good write on a beautiful young man.

    Reply
  16. Pat Harmon - July 2, 2017 2:13 am

    I have enjoyed your daily messages. You bring to life so many people in this world that I would love to meet sometime. I loved young boy you wroteabout in the “Alabama Writer” . Please kept it up.

    Reply
  17. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way - July 2, 2017 11:41 am

    Awwwwwww!!! What a sweet boy! Do you think there’s a special place in hell for people like his dad? I don’t know what makes people so weak they can’t take care of a such a marvelous child. I really don’t know when and how all the grit got bred out of some people. Today I don’t think there would be a California if the wimps had to get in a wagon and travel across this country. They’d be crying for someone to come and save them. *sigh* A real pity. You will forever be SEAN to that boy. You made me smile and cry at the same time. Happy Sunday!

    Reply
    • Patricia - August 20, 2017 9:34 am

      You hit the nail on square on the head there.

      Reply
  18. Chris Darden - July 3, 2017 12:45 am

    You have a way of making me realize how much I take for granted, and for making me feel lousy about it. That’s my fault, not yours. Thanks for this lesson

    Reply
  19. Janet Mary Lee - July 4, 2017 9:04 pm

    Another beautiful story!! His father sure missed a lot. He does seem like the kind of person who might not appreciate what was sitting in front of him when he does meet him. His loss. I do wonder what you were doing there…that is probably a great story, too!

    Reply
  20. Linda Koon - August 20, 2017 11:22 am

    Love your writings. You haven’t let me down. Refreshing and much better ‘reporting ‘ news than the TV. Thank you.

    Reply
  21. Deanna J - August 20, 2017 1:04 pm

    What a amazing time, for you and him! Thank you very much for sharing!

    Reply
  22. Melodie - August 20, 2017 4:25 pm

    You obviously didn’t forget him, either. What a beautiful story about a beautiful, inspiring young man. ♥
    Thank you, Sean. ☺

    Reply
  23. Mary Beth - August 21, 2017 1:50 am

    I believe you could make a 2 headed viper seem like a Pootie cat! So thankful that your talents are used to push us upward & forward in our ailing human condition. God bless you!

    Reply

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