There is a little girl. A grandbaby. She's sitting on an old man’s lap. The man across from her wears a cowboy hat. He's showing her magic tricks.

I’m at a restaurant which is a double-wide trailer. I have spent a morning, riding past scalped fields and condemned barns.

A table of old men is behind me. They meet here for coffee regularly—that’s what the waitress says. Same table. Same men. Every morning except Sundays.

She tells me they are Methodist men.

The eldest is eighty-six. He sits by the window in the sunlight.

If I’m fortunate enough see old age, I will sit by a sunny window, sipping coffee.

There is a little girl. A grandbaby. She’s sitting on an old man’s lap. The man across from her wears a cowboy hat. He’s showing her magic tricks.

When I am old, I will wear cowboy hats and do magic tricks for grandbabies.

The television in the corner plays footage from the Las Vegas mass shooting. Gruesome images fill the screen.

The conversation comes to a pause. They watch.

“What’s this world coming to?”

“Those poor folks,” says Cowboy Hat.

“What happened, Granddaddy?” asks the little girl.

“Folks is being mean to each other,” says Grandaddy. “That’s what happened.”

Next, the television shows NFL football players on knees, hooking arms. People on TV shout at each other.

One man clears his throat loudly. He says, “I ever tell you my grandson is JV quarterback?”

When I’m old, I will clear my throat loudly to change the subject.

“QB?” answers one man. “You must be proud.”

The men erupt in smiles. There are congratulations. You would’ve thought someone won the Florida Powerball.

“My grandson got his talent from me,” the man goes on. “I was pretty good, you know.”

Humility is not a necessary attribute among Methodists.

The television plays video of an oncoming hurricane. The white cyclone rolls on the map. Palm trees bend sideways.

“They say this is gonna be a bad storm,” Cowboy Hat remarks.

“They always say that.”

“Well, sometimes they’re right.”

“Hell, even a dead clock’s right twice a day.”

“Grandaddy, are we gonna be okay?” says the little girl.

There is childhood worry in her eyes.

He smiles and winks at her. “I promise, we’ll be okay.”

I will smile and wink at babies.

Two waitresses come bearing large trays. Every man gets his meal. The little girl gets a stack of pancakes ten feet high.

Cowboy Hat asks the waitress, “Can I get the ketchup, sweetie?”

Another says, “Some creamers, too.”

“I don’t have a fork.”

“Bring a few more napkins, honey.”

Methodists.

Then, the men remove hats, they join hands, and bow heads. So does the little girl. So do waitresses.

The eldest stands.

He prays for Las Vegas, he prays for hurricanes. For cousins, in-laws, policemen, firefighters, EMTs, pipe-fitters, soy crops, cotton crops, the price of corn, the price of timber, stick welders, farmers who work by day, those who work by night, wayward children, teen pregnancies, NFL players, grandbabies, and JV quarterbacks.

And he finishes with: “Help us be good to one another, Lord.”

“CAN I EAT ALREADY!?” shouts the little girl.

He sits. They eat. They smile. More magic tricks. More laughing.

I’m no Methodist.

But one day, I hope I’m lucky enough to be an old man.

21 comments

  1. Sara Shaver - October 7, 2017 2:03 pm

    We would love for you to be a Methodist! You fit right in. Sara Shavee

    Reply
  2. Pat - October 7, 2017 2:35 pm

    It would be OK to be a Methodist…I kinda like it.

    Reply
  3. Leia Lona - October 7, 2017 2:45 pm

    Help us be good to one another.

    Reply
  4. Jack Quanstrum - October 7, 2017 2:51 pm

    Amen! Me to Sean. Beautiful story. The way life ought to be. Simple, authentic and pure. Like the story you just wrote. Peace!

    Reply
  5. Susan Hatfield - October 7, 2017 2:52 pm

    And God Bless old men, God luv’em.

    Reply
  6. cecil george - October 7, 2017 2:53 pm

    “when I am old…” are you channeling T. S. Lewis today? Don’t forget to roll your pants’ legs up! ❤️

    Reply
  7. cecil george - October 7, 2017 2:58 pm

    Eliot not Lewis. I had my alphabet confused.

    Reply
  8. Melodie - October 7, 2017 3:37 pm

    I really need to be more observant and aware of my surroundings. I think I’m missing out on a lot. That, or just go to more local diners. 😉 There’s a lot to be said.
    Yes, we need a kinder world.

    Reply
  9. Jan - October 7, 2017 3:42 pm

    As a life long Methodist, we would welcome you with open arms!

    Reply
  10. Bob Hubbard - October 7, 2017 3:49 pm

    I’m an old man – and a Methodist. You will have fun, and we really don’t care about your denomination, just so you love the Lord…

    Reply
  11. Pamela McEachern - October 7, 2017 4:41 pm

    You’re workin your way to be an awesome old man, but you are currently about the best man anyone could hope to be, keep writing about those special people and places. Peace and Love from Birmingham

    Reply
  12. jstephenw - October 7, 2017 7:08 pm

    Once again, you have made me feel less anxious about evil in the world. I hope you are making a good living with your writing, because I hope you do not stop anytime soon. I sill have an image of you as a good man. So far nothing has said I am wrong.

    Drink a beer with your beautiful wife.

    You deserve one.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  13. Ed S - October 7, 2017 7:25 pm

    I am an old man, 74 two weeks from today. Some of it’s bad…bum shoulder and all that. It looks like the world is going to the devil, like my Poppa usta say. BUT I have grand babies and each one is perfect.That makes it all worth while. I think they are God’s compensation for me getting’ old.

    As always, thank you, Sean, for your words.

    Reply
  14. Anne Trawick - October 7, 2017 7:32 pm

    To paraphrase Robert Frost who wrote, “One could do worse than be a swinger of birches,” one could do worse than be a Methodist.

    Reply
  15. paulajwray - October 7, 2017 7:54 pm

    I loved your use of repetition. This was a great read. I could see it all.

    Reply
  16. Ann Marie Morris - October 7, 2017 11:59 pm

    Come to Cleburne County, Fruithurst-Muscadine. Please. What is your pay to come? Talk to our people, tell our story, please.

    Reply
  17. Debra - October 8, 2017 12:25 am

    You are already an old sweet soul.

    Reply
  18. Catherine - October 8, 2017 2:28 am

    I won’t ever get to be an old man but I might become a Methodist. Love this one Sean.

    Reply
  19. Billy Joe Nunn - October 8, 2017 3:41 am

    Hi Sean, this is me, Billy Joe Nunn in Panama City. It was great seeing you tonight and I hope you are over here again soon. I enjoy your newsletters and the positive outlook you present. Tonight, Jo Ann asked me to spot Victor and you so that she could come see you. She doesn’t see so good anymore. Sometimes that doesn’t get her along so well with performers because she wants to get close to the stage when they are preforming. But she is a very nice lady who loves music. I saw Victor and took her to him. They hugged and later danced to one of your numbers. Then I saw you and I took her to you. She was thrilled. And later you dedicated your final song to her. ” You are my Sunshine”. I know that she was thrilled with that. But to me it brought tears to my eyes. That is what my mom sang to me. She is gone now, but what a loving momma she was. I can’t help but tear up when I hear that song, but also when I hear Amazing Grace. So you got me twice tonight. But I don’t feel bad about it. Emotions are important. Love is important. Keep doing what you are doing and I hope to see you in Panama
    city soon.

    Reply
  20. George - October 8, 2017 3:46 am

    Do no harm, do good, love God, the way of a Methodist. Pray for those being effected by Hurricane Nate. Blessings….

    Reply
  21. Adrian Longcrier - October 20, 2017 2:46 pm

    Hi Sean, I have subscribed a couple of times and receive your blog for two or three days then it stops. What should I do. I look forward to reading them everyday. My email address is adrianlongcrier@gmail.com
    Thank you so much !

    Reply

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