Old Bibles

The Bible is red, cracked, and old. Remember? It was originally Mama’s Bible from her teenage years. She gave it to you when she bought a new one.

I wanted to be the first to wish you a happy birthday today. I hope you’re doing well. Life is pretty good down here. Things have been going great.

And hey. You know what? I’m going fishing today, in your honor. I thought you’d get a kick out of that. If I catch something, I’m going to throw it back. That way people won’t mistake me for a good fisherman. We don’t want that.

It’s too bad we can’t get together and catch up. That would be fun. I think you would like the adult me. I think I’m a nice guy.

Let’s see, what else? I live a simple life. I have a small spot in the woods, a workshed, a bass boat that has seen better days.

And, I have a little office for writing. In fact, that’s where I’m writing now. In my office camper.

The camper is a ‘52 Yellowstone. It was cheap, and ugly as homemade soap. I spent a year gutting her and fixing her up. It’s still ugly. But it’s mine.

Inside I have a desk, a kitchenette, a bed, a small shower, several books, a few mounted bass, knick-knacks on shelves.

I also have several of your things, situated near my desk.

I am looking at your barometer, for instance, which used to sit on your garage workbench. I have a Hank Williams record, an old watch, your baseball bat, your Bible.

The Bible is red, cracked, and old. Remember? It was originally Mama’s Bible from her teenage years. She gave it to you when she bought a new one.

There are highlighted verses, dog-eared pages, and notes in the back. The notes are yours. They date back to God-knows when.

I remember when you’d sit in church. I can still see you, dressed in your pressed clothes. You’d doodle on a church bulletin, drawing funny pictures just for me.

But sometimes, apparently, you took sermon notes. Because here they are. One note reads: “Church rummage sale, Aug. 20th. Good stuff.” And it’s underlined.

Another reads: “Clyde R.’s birthday, Tuesday 5:00 P.M.”

And one short sentence has mystified me for twenty-five years: “Emotions are not logical.”

Why in the world would you write this? And what does it mean?

It must’ve meant something to you or you wouldn’t have penned it. I wish I could ask you about it, but we are separated by time and space. I guess I’ll never know.

And I guess you’ll never know that growing up was hard without you. But it made me strong I think. And even though I didn’t enjoy much of my childhood, I am really enjoying life now. Truly enjoying it. And I am grateful to you for that. Sort of.

Long ago, however, I wasn’t grateful. I was mad at you for taking your own life. It was like someone had sucked the blood from my body and replaced it with lighter fluid.

And one day, when I was seventeen, I opened your old Bible. I found this little note reading: “Emotions are not logical.”

And I got upset. I hurled your book against the wall so hard it split in two. Pages went flying.

“How’s that for logical!?” I shouted.

Then, I stooped to the ground and cried over it. I was so sorry I’d damaged something so valuable to you. It was like I’d hurt you. And I don’t ever want to hurt you like you did us.

The next day, I taped the Bible together with shipping tape. I went to great pains to make it look as nice as I could. So that’s why your old Bible is covered in tape. Because of me.

Anyway, I understand what it means to get emotional. Sometimes I become emotional over the strangest things, it makes no sense.

A blue heron above me. The smell of outboard motor exhaust. The way a small boy holds his father’s hand when walking onto a docked bass boat.

So my life is so marvelous. And busy. It’s too much to put into words. So I won’t even try. But one day, maybe we’ll go fishing and I’ll hold you the way you once held me.

And we’ll cry. And we’ll make fools of ourselves. And I’ll tell you all about the me you don’t know.

And you’ll apologize to me for everything.

And I’ll tell you, “It’s okay. I don’t hold it against you. I love you.”

And I’ll mean it with my whole heart.

I have to go now. Sorry I got so emotional with those last paragraphs. But you know how it is.

Emotions are not logical.

Happy birthday, Daddy.

37 comments

  1. Judy Kate - September 11, 2018 5:39 am

    (((Sean))) I love you.

    Reply
  2. Jim Keith - September 11, 2018 5:54 am

    Sean, I know how losing ones father affects a young man-boy. My father was in the hospital, paralyzed from the waist down, for six month before he died. He didn’t take his own life, but I was still angry at him. He left us before I was prepared for life. I had so much more to learn and no one to teach me. I was 17. You were younger than that, but age in that situation is not a relevant factor in the reaction of a young mind.
    I’m writing this just to let you know that you are not alone with the heavy heart that you bear. I just turned 74 last week and there are still very few days that I don’t wonder what my life might have been if my dad had lived a full life.
    By the way….GOD used to be at every Barons game at Rickwood Field!!!!

    Reply
  3. Leslie in NC - September 11, 2018 6:43 am

    Happy heavenly birthday, Mr. Dietrich. You’d be so proud of your son. He’s a great writer of tender heart and we’re all proud to know him.

    Reply
  4. Pamela McEachern - September 11, 2018 7:06 am

    Happy Birthday to your Dad, Sean.He may not have physically guided you into manhood but I do believe he kept his hand on you the whole way.

    Peace and Love from Birmingham

    Reply
  5. Mary - September 11, 2018 8:54 am

    My heart aches for the part of you that’ll always a little broken-hearted boy for losing his daddy. But this part of you is why you help others, since you can sense their pain too. Thank you for listening to people and feeling for them. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    Reply
    • Terri C Boykin - September 11, 2018 12:13 pm

      ❤️

      Reply
  6. Nancy Thomaston Rogers - September 11, 2018 9:39 am

    Just beautiful. Happy birthday to your daddy and all the mamas and daddies that left us way too soon.

    Reply
  7. CaroG87 - September 11, 2018 10:01 am

    A beautiful tribute.

    Reply
  8. Debbie Reynolds - September 11, 2018 11:33 am

    Oh my Sean I share your daddy’s birthday ! Happy Birthday Me. Deitrich👍🎉🎂💐🏈 After reading the Harbinger (about 911 and I highly recommend ) I googled the importance of being born on this date and it was kinda sad and didn’t bring much insight or comfort. I lost my son in March to a drug overdose and he was 39. This will be my first BD without him😥 I’m going to have a great day and do like you and look for all the good I can out of it! I’m glad I share this day with him! Love your writing it brings me such joy! Debbie

    Reply
    • theholtgirls - September 12, 2018 6:13 am

      Happy Birthday, a little late. I pray that you found lots of good in it! I am so sorry about your son. ((((((hugs))))))

      Reply
  9. Terri Donovan - September 11, 2018 11:58 am

    Oh my goodness. Another gem. In thinking about “emotions are not logical,” the first thing that came to mind is the adage from Alanon: Feelings aren’t facts.

    When I first heard that said in an Alanon meeting some 12 years ago, it made me want to throw something against a wall.

    After all, all I had were feelings about what was going on, living with active alcoholism.

    Later, much later, I came to see the truth in those words. Feelings are real, but they aren’t facts.

    Maybe that is what your Daddy meant.

    Reply
  10. Terri C Boykin - September 11, 2018 12:15 pm

    Dang it Sean, here you go making me cry again. Love you much.

    Reply
  11. Betty F. - September 11, 2018 12:29 pm

    September 11th. How appropriate. So many lives snuffed out in so short a time.so many more lives forever changed. It’s amazing to me the ripple effect each traumatic loss has on the survivors. Sean, I like to think that your Dad has seen each of your days and one day your will be able to reminisce.

    Reply
  12. Jan - September 11, 2018 12:38 pm

    Thank you for sharing your life, your love and your heart so beautifully.

    Reply
  13. Heidi - September 11, 2018 12:42 pm

    Happy birthday Sean’s daddy. You can’t see him but he’s seen you all along. He’s very proud of a man that has emotions and a lot of love to spread around. My goodness….what would the world be without emotion?

    Reply
  14. Carol - September 11, 2018 12:55 pm

    I have no answers for you Sean!
    And maybe there isn’t one! He loved you so much that he didn’t want you to see him hurt , no it doesn’t make sence. And maybe you have to go way back into his past and his childhood to find the answere!
    And then maybe you just have to know , no matter what took him ,You were his !!and he Loved you!
    Love ya!

    Reply
  15. Patti - September 11, 2018 12:59 pm

    Your dad must be very proud of the man you have become.

    Reply
  16. Dell - September 11, 2018 1:25 pm

    Emotions are not logical…..Spock/Star Trek. Was your a trekkie????

    Reply
  17. Barbara Pope - September 11, 2018 2:06 pm

    “Farther along we’ll know all about it. Farther along we’ll understand why….”

    Reply
    • Wendy Franks - September 12, 2018 9:26 pm

      I love that song! Thanks

      Reply
  18. Shelton Armour - September 11, 2018 2:54 pm

    Really good tribute to your Dad. Emotions are not logical, they just are what they are. You can’t always control them, and when you can’t, don’t try. God bless you and yours, and God is taking good care of your Dad. You take care, too.

    Reply
  19. flkatmom - September 11, 2018 3:52 pm

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  20. Mermaidgrammy - September 11, 2018 4:06 pm

    I could write the same letter to my own daddy, who killed himself at the bottom of many, many bottles. I wish I had known had badly I was going to miss him, so I could have loved him more.

    Reply
  21. Jack Quanstrum - September 11, 2018 4:37 pm

    Isn’t life and death interesting!

    Reply
  22. 1taterbug - September 11, 2018 4:41 pm

    My mother took her own life when I was 19. Her birthday was Sept. 10. Thank you for continuing to keep the high cost of suicide in people’s awareness.

    Reply
  23. Sharon Dodd - September 11, 2018 7:35 pm

    Sean, You have such a way of touching all of us at the very core of our being. Thank you.

    Reply
  24. Scott - September 11, 2018 7:38 pm

    Suicide is not the work of a sound mind. When my twenty year old son tried to kill himself, left a note to me expressing his sorrow, I could not understand how he could do that to the people that loved him so much. A medical doctor explained to me that my son was ill, just like any other deadly disease. In his case it was his brain. I now see mental illness in a completely different light. I can promise you, your dad loved you with his whole heart, just as my son explained in his letter to me. It was the disease, not the young man that attempted to do this terrible thing. My heart bleeds for you when it comes to your dad, but I am so glad that he lived, because he left such a wonderful gift. You!

    Reply
  25. Joy - September 11, 2018 8:43 pm

    Thank you Sean…you have touched my heart once again and you make us aware that we don’t know what goes on in the minds of others; we need more patience, empathy and understanding; less judging, more acceptance and love!

    ‘When someone you love Becomes a Memory, That Memory Becomes a Treasure!’

    Love your writings!

    Reply
  26. Al Adan - September 11, 2018 8:49 pm

    It’s my birthday, Sean. Thanks for the birthday wishes. You’re about as old as my kids. I’m probably about as old as your daddy would be. I appreciate your writing and love your focus on those no one ever focuses on. I know your daddy would be proud; I’m sorry he’s not here to cheer you on.

    Reply
  27. Edna B. - September 11, 2018 9:58 pm

    Happy Birthday to your Dad, and all the moms and dads all gone by. No matter what, you gotta love that he gave you life. He’s been watching you along, and I’m sure he’s just as proud of you as we all are. Even more. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  28. Jack Darnell - September 12, 2018 12:06 am

    Good entry, and a logical statement. And yes it would be nice to know what emotions he was thinking about at the time.
    Good visit, again!

    Reply
  29. Bobby Reeder - September 12, 2018 12:19 am

    Heart touching. Life’s more complicated for some. My Mom truly made up for not having a Dad around…… hope your’s did too. 💖

    Reply
  30. Travis Wilburn - September 12, 2018 8:03 pm

    Beautiful tribute Sean. Love you brother

    Reply
  31. Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - September 13, 2018 3:00 pm

    My husband’s father killed himself and the most treasured keepsake was his old Bible. His dad wrote for him to read it as it would give him guidance.

    Reply
  32. Jeanie Crutchfield - September 13, 2018 3:37 pm

    Hugs!

    Reply
  33. Janet Mary Lee - September 13, 2018 6:47 pm

    Don’t you know he reads your heart? Your Daddy knows, and he is so so proud!

    Reply
  34. perry5360 - September 13, 2018 10:33 pm

    In life right and wrong travel side by side, it’s messy and sometimes as people, we make mistakes and don’t even realize what we have done till much later down the road. I am sure your dad is looking down and wanting you to know how much he loved you, how sorry he is that he caused you any pain and how proud he is of the man you have become.

    Reply

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