Monroeville

I’m in my truck right now. I’m older. I’m wearing a sportcoat. In a few minutes, I’ll be walking into a courthouse in Monroeville, Alabama. A room which, up until a few months ago, I’d only ever read about.

I was a loser. At least, that’s what I would’ve told you back then.

Twenty-five years old. I sat in a truck, in a parking lot lit by streetlamps. My work clothes were sawdusty. Supper was a sandwich and a warm beer.

I was reading, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” squeezing in chapters before class. You’ve probably read it a hundred times, maybe in high school even.

I had not.

I didn’t attend high school. After my father shot himself, my mother and I worked. I dropped out in the eighth grade.

Yeah, yeah. Poor, pitiful me. So who cares about that.

A little about me:

My name is Sean. I like long walks in the woods, Budweiser, Jalen Hurts, dogs, Will Rogers, farm-raised eggs, Andy Griffith. And I enrolled in community college as a grown man. Like I said, a loser.

So, I was reading Mockingbird in my truck. I liked the book. Not only because of the story, but because of where it happened in Monroe County.

The girl I’d fallen in love with was from Escambia County—just down the road. This same girl let me into her life. Her people were good to me. They fed me. They made me one of theirs. They told me I was special.

In my life before, I’d generally considered myself a lost kid with very little to offer anyone. Larry the Loser. Girls don’t want anything to do with losers.

Once, at the ripe age of twenty, I asked Lydia Bronson on a date. I arrived at her house in a beat-up truck. She saw my unsightly mount. She suddenly developed yellow fever, strep throat, and scurvy simultaneously.

I was all dressed up with nowhere to go. So, I went to a bowling alley and played solo. I ate a hotdog and tried to forget what a screw-up I was.

A group of high-schoolers was there that night. They were nice-looking, happy, laughing. They asked if I wanted to join them. I hated myself.

But that all changed when I met my wife. The woman who looked me dead in the eye and said, “I believe in you Sean Dietrich.”

That woman.

I enrolled in college. For the first class of the first semester the professor gave a lecture about a town called Monroeville, Alabama, and an American author who made it famous.

What a class. What a professor. She was a lady who once told me, “You ought to consider being an author, you know.”

Me.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” I answered—since that’s what losers say.

“Don’t YOU be ridiculous,” she said—since that’s what good teachers say.

So.

I’m in my truck right now. I’m older. I’m wearing a sportcoat. In a few minutes, I’ll be walking into a courthouse in Monroeville, Alabama. A room which, up until a few months ago, I’d only ever read about.

I’m here to speak about my unlikely career. I’ll tell stories about my life, and how grateful I am for it. Stories about people who loved me. About what a colossal loser I once thought I was. And how there’s no such thing.

My wife will be in the back row, doing what she’s always done.

Believing in me.

52 comments

  1. Carolyn gilbert - November 10, 2017 1:11 pm

    Come to Augusta ga

    Reply
  2. rebecca4853 - November 10, 2017 1:11 pm

    Yay for your wife!

    Reply
  3. Marty from Alabama - November 10, 2017 1:12 pm

    Sometimes having someone to believe in you is all that’s needed.

    Reply
  4. Cynthia - November 10, 2017 1:15 pm

    I know you’ve been to Andalusia. So sorry I had to miss you. So glad you became a writer because your words brighten so many lives.

    Reply
  5. JOHN PASCHALL - November 10, 2017 1:16 pm

    You go, Sean! Love your stories!

    Reply
  6. Debbie Taylor - November 10, 2017 1:25 pm

    Just so grateful for your raw, honest stories … for being vulnerable and sharing who you are. You inspire me in so many ways!

    Reply
  7. Suzette Allen - November 10, 2017 1:26 pm

    You had me at “Jalen Hurts.” Seriously. I’m glad somebody believed in you when you didn’t. I’m glad you took a chance on becoming an author. Your words are powerful, Sean. Your wife is a rockstar. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Sharon Hand - November 10, 2017 1:28 pm

      Me, too. Suzette. Me, too.

      Reply
  8. Kathy Daum - November 10, 2017 1:26 pm

    People who believe in us light the way. We’re here to be lights.

    Reply
  9. Emilie Oglesby - November 10, 2017 1:30 pm

    And you and your wife were wonderful! What a blessing it was for me to hear both of your stories. We are so thankful that you came to our great town, and we got to know both of you a little (or a lot) better. Thanks for being great!

    Reply
  10. Betty Odom - November 10, 2017 1:47 pm

    Such an inspiration to so many, my friend.

    Reply
  11. Pete Black - November 10, 2017 1:48 pm

    Sean really enjoyed listening to your stories in Monroeville yesterday! You are a gifted story teller. The Garrison Keillor of the South!!

    Reply
  12. Connie - November 10, 2017 1:48 pm

    I believe that life is what we make of it. We can let our pasts, our mistakes, our tragedies, make us bad people. Or we can use that life to make us better. You have chosen to be more. We appreciate you. You have a way with words, and a way of looking at life, that helps us be better people. Thank you, and thank your lovely wife.

    Reply
  13. Sue Cronkite - November 10, 2017 1:49 pm

    Another good ‘un.

    Reply
  14. Suzanne Hinman - November 10, 2017 1:57 pm

    Having grown up in rural and then suburban Mobile, I love your stories and human insights. Thank you from an Alabama girl now living in Nebraska.

    Reply
  15. Randy Bowden - November 10, 2017 1:59 pm

    Blessings and keep on winning

    Reply
  16. paula jones - November 10, 2017 2:00 pm

    If there is one thing you do in every single article is give us hope. Thank you.

    Reply
  17. Laura - November 10, 2017 2:04 pm

    All it takes sometimes is for someone to believe in you! I believe in you, too. Hearing you speak last week in Montgomery was inspiring and I hope the young men from the Huntingdon college fraternity heard what you said. You never know about dreams. My son, who had a pretty easy life and a Mother who would have paid for him to go to college right out of high school, blew it all off, was a loner pretty much, made some bad decisions, etc., now is VP in a great company and living one of his dreams. It was hard for him going to college as an adult while raising a family. I once wrote an article for a nursing journal (I am a nurse) because I thought I could write…it was rejected. I thought my writing dream was gone. However, several years later another nurse encouraged me to write and, she published the article in a renowned journal. I went on to write professional articles in several journals. YOU are a very encouraging young man. I am glad Jamie found and adopted you into her family! You deserve that and you two are so great together. Love you, Sean

    Reply
  18. Rene' Marie / Georgia - November 10, 2017 2:32 pm

    I once heard a pastor say Your past is not your future.
    Sean, you are not a loser…….but a blessing.
    Thank you for blessing us with your kind words, gentle persuasions
    and observations of life, that makes us truly see the world around us
    instead of seeing it with rose colored glasses.

    Reply
  19. Shelley Sperka - November 10, 2017 2:35 pm

    The best thing about you, Sean Dietrich is the fact that you share your whole self, and give hope to people who often feel like they are screw-ups.

    Reply
  20. Gwen McGill - November 10, 2017 2:42 pm

    I became your biggest fan when I heard your video about Southern Women. I saw it because Southern Living Magazine featured it in an email and I am so glad that i listened to it! Multiple times! Sometimes my husband and I are in the car when I am reading the latest one on my phone and I suddenly put my hand on my chest and gasp because I am tearing up and I try to choke out the words to tell him about it but it would not be the same. I am not good with words.

    Reply
  21. Jakki - November 10, 2017 3:08 pm

    You inspire me to stick around. Thank God for you and your wife.

    Reply
  22. Donna J. masmar - November 10, 2017 3:19 pm

    Love starting the day with your columns–thanks so much!

    Reply
  23. Jeff Corkran - November 10, 2017 4:24 pm

    Although my story is quite different and much more mundane, I truly understand your pride, humility, and appreciation of your wife’s faith in you. The most eloquent and inspiring speech I ever heard was the one my wife made at my retirement ceremony from the US Army. It made me want to live up to her praise and faith. We have now been married over 45 years and going strong.

    Reply
  24. Ann Foley - November 10, 2017 4:29 pm

    I love you and Jamie ❤️

    Reply
  25. Jan - November 10, 2017 4:39 pm

    Way to go Sean! Another home run!

    Reply
  26. Dana Stockli - November 10, 2017 5:07 pm

    ❤️❤️❤️
    Thank you for each and every word you’ve ever written… you touch all of our hearts with such love and compassion. If you’re ever in Vestavia, Alabama, please stop by Mark’s Outdoors. My husband passed away 5 1/2 years ago and left me to run this little hunting and fishing store, and you have no idea how much you have helped me get over his passing and getting on with this living thing… keep writing, Sean, as we all love you and your wonderful stories of every day people.

    Reply
  27. Sandra Smith - November 10, 2017 5:12 pm

    My nose is burning, and my eyes are leaking !
    A LOT of us believe in you.
    ❤❤❤
    Thank you #

    Reply
  28. Cindy Bailey - November 10, 2017 5:28 pm

    we need more “losers” in this world❤️

    Reply
  29. Sherri McDonald - November 10, 2017 5:57 pm

    I believe in you!

    Reply
  30. Mary Talton - November 10, 2017 6:48 pm

    I say it every time, ” That was the best one yet”….. But, no really, this REALLY was,the best one yet!!!!!

    Reply
  31. Ralph Bryson - November 10, 2017 7:19 pm

    Wow! How do I get your speaking schedule? Thx. Monroeville is indeed special. I have two sisters and family there. Harper Lee was special also!!

    Reply
  32. Jackie Darnell - November 10, 2017 10:25 pm

    Thanks for a good read. I never thought of myself as a loser, but by all appearances I should have been. Anyway, I always enjoy the visits. The entries are good. Yep I agree you should be a writer! 😉

    Reply
  33. Perri Geaux Tigers Williamson - November 10, 2017 10:37 pm

    It is truly a toss up as to who I like more—you or forever-in-a-dress. What a wonderful person she must be! My husband is a blue collar guy—didn’t finish high school, either. He took over his family business at 32. He is the embodiment of the American Dream. When I’m in the room with people who look incredibly bright and successful—multiple patent-holders, Apollo 13 contributors I still feel my husband bests them. After all, how difficult can it be to be successful when that is your legacy? When you’re a poor boy from Georgia that shared a Christmas present with your four brothers and you created a dirt empire with 80+ hour weeks for almost 50 years…well, that is success to me.

    Thank you for continuing to inspire us with your courage, perseverance and wit. I’m sure it is fairly easy with such a great cheerleader!

    Reply
  34. Debra - November 11, 2017 12:50 am

    Everytime I read one of your stories, my eyes water…every.single.time. Thank you for listening to your wife and not that loser voice in your head because you are far from a loser. Be blessed.

    Reply
  35. Jack Quanstrum - November 11, 2017 2:09 am

    Fantastic. Way to go!

    Reply
  36. Elaine Karrh - November 11, 2017 8:18 am

    Sean,You are a blessing to me…Thank you.By the way,I love Jalen Hurts,too! Roll Tide!!

    Reply
  37. Mignon Croft Watson - November 11, 2017 3:13 pm

    Sean, I am Haniel Croft’s sister. I live in Huntsville. I enjoy your books so much. I have them all. I especially the ones that give me a giggle. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  38. Molly - November 12, 2017 12:37 am

    God knows exactly what He is doing. We only have to listen and follow! Another great one!!

    Reply
  39. Susan Hammett Poole - November 12, 2017 6:25 am

    Proverbs 18:21 tells us “The power of life and death is in the tongue.” Bravo for you, Sean, because you speak LIFE to your readers and always, always give us hope. ♡

    Reply
  40. sabbaticalchef - November 12, 2017 12:49 pm

    You continue to amaze me with your stories. I love you, Sean. I love Jamie, too. I think that I even love Ellie Mae. Keep writing! Come to North Carolina. Pretty please?

    Reply
  41. J & Heidi Hopwood - November 12, 2017 8:12 pm

    Your stories are from your heart and to the hearts of those who read them. You don’t have to be a Southerner to relate to your stories. Thank you for the insights to real life. We would like to see/hear you someday. Do you have a schedule of appearances?
    Thanks, J & Heidi

    Reply
  42. Linda Akers - November 13, 2017 4:08 pm

    All anyone needs is someone to believe in them to be a success. Thank God for Jaime! All of your devoted readers owe her a debt of gratitude. I sincerely hope to hear you speak in person one day and thank both of you for the part you play in getting my day started….started with a new determination to do good, to be nice….to be a good neighbor….to be happy. You are loved. Hello to Jaime and Ellie Mae.

    Reply
  43. Mignon Croft Watson - November 13, 2017 9:24 pm

    I have all your books and enjoy them .

    Reply
  44. Patsy Black - November 14, 2017 2:31 am

    I caught both of your Monroeville performances and enjoyed them very much.

    Reply
  45. rolfehuntRolfe Hunt - December 5, 2017 12:41 pm

    Your writing gets more difficult to read near the end. The words pile up in my heart. They get blurred. Tears.

    Reply
  46. MT - December 5, 2017 1:00 pm

    Sean, you are everything BUT a loser. When someone actually ‘sees’ people they can never be called a loser. You get outside yourself and observe others which a lot of people are unable to see anything good in anyone but themselves. I’m sure you make your wife and Momma proud.

    Reply
  47. Karmon - December 5, 2017 2:30 pm

    My son says he hates himself too. He feels like a looser as well. He quit college, lives alone with his cat, got his heart smashed by a girl. He’s 22… I pray all day everyday for him to meet someone to love again, to spend time with, to believe in him. I tell him everyday but I’m his mama so that’s a given. Thank you for this story- there’s hope for him and someone out there for him, I just know it!

    Reply
  48. Mike - December 5, 2017 3:43 pm

    I have many memories of Monroeville and had forgotten how wonderful the town and it’s people are. Thank you for awakening my past again. You are going to leave a mark on everyone Sean. Great stories and insight. God Bless You !

    Reply
  49. stewartdanos - December 5, 2017 3:48 pm

    Great, great perspective! I appreciate your accounts of life so much because I long for a slower pace with meaningful adventures. Not that I’ve lived a crazy new york style life, but my life is very rarely slow due to travels between 5 states for work. I live in Santa Rosa Beach most of my days and I hope to slow down a little more over the next few years with my wife.

    God Bless you, Sean and Thank You!
    Stew

    Reply
  50. Karla - December 6, 2017 12:19 am

    You know, Sean, your wife is right. I read your stories and i am back home, sitting on the front porch of my grand-daddy’s, rocking, listening, and smelling the sweet shrub. Thank you.

    Reply
  51. carlinbrooks - December 6, 2017 4:31 am

    I believe in you, too. I look forward to every blog, every day. Thanks for your thoughts and words. Merry Christmas.

    Reply

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