This woman could write the book on how to be a grandmother.

It's one in the morning, I'm in the ER waiting room with my wife. I have a gash in my foot from stepping on a piece of glass the size of a Dorito.

I'm only here for a tetanus shot and—God-willing—a free lollipop.

The waiting room is empty except for a white-haired lady at the desk who looks a lot like Aunt Bee. She talks like she's from a hundred years ago. Back when every child was either honey, sweetie-pie, or sugar; when women wore housecoats, put baking soda on bee stings, and fed anything that moved.

In only a few seconds, Bee manages to complete paperwork, fit me with a

plastic bracelet, and ask about my favorite baseball teams.

Through the automatic double doors walks a young couple. A girl clutching her chest.

“Oh, good heavens, what's the matter?” Aunt Bee says.

The boy can't get the words out. “M-m-my wife, she just woke up, short of breath...”

This fella is about as helpful as a pair of muddy boots. Bee turns her attention toward the girl. “Tell me what's wrong, baby.”

The girl says, “Panic... Attack...”

Bee escorts her to a seat. The girl is huffing while Bee…

He fried his catfish whole, smother-fried his dove, and whatever he did with squirrel was heaven on a fork.

When I first met him, it was early morning. He picked me up in his old truck, and we zipped off to Brewton, Alabama. The truck smelled like the backside of a filthy goat.

He botched my name. He called me either Shane, Sheen, or Seen. The Irish spelling didn't register in his brain. He finally settled on calling me, Jeezus, because of my beard.

I called him Brother Jim.

His religion was food. He believed in slaving at the stove, and he wouldn't fix his own plate until everyone had too much on theirs.

"You're looking puny," he'd say. "Getcha some more."

And then I'd go back for seconds,

thirds, and dessert.

He fried his catfish whole, smother-fried his dove, and whatever he did with squirrel was heaven on a fork. He barbecued like a fool, made his burgers too thick, and his creamed corn gave my life purpose.

He took me fishing, I caught several bream. He'd squeeze their bladders, making them squirt urine on my face.

He told jokes, long ones. He full-mooned me whenever he saw me riding up the driveway.

If you knew him, you'd know he had his share of problems. He made mistakes.…

My first instinct was to swipe my hand through the colors. The cows nearby watched me with big eyes while I behaved like a six-year-old.

"STOP THE TRUCK!" my wife screamed.

She scared the stuffing out of me. I slammed the brakes and nearly swerved into the ditch. I came to a stop in the middle of a cattle pasture.

"A rainbow!" she said, staring at a giant arch of color. “Can you BELIEVE it?”

I could believe a lot of things, but I wasn't in the mood to squeeze out a kidney stone over a rainbow.

This is because only few days earlier, our vacation had been full of thunderstorms and sadness. Jamie's father had just died—she was a wreck. And on top of everything else, it had been raining.

All week, we'd stayed inside

the condo playing five-card draw, using Cheetohs for poker chips, watching the rain.

So, we ended our trip early and left for home. And as fate would have it, as soon as we traveled three miles outside town, the weather broke. The sun busted through the clouds—it looked like God was announcing summer.

And so, there we stood, staring across ten acres of fresh Alabamian cow pies, watching moisture evaporate into color.

"Is that the tail?” she asked, pointing.

So help me God, the end of the rainbow was…

The truth is, people don't talk or behave this way anymore. Often, when young folks open their mouths, they do it while gazing at smartphones.

Donald has a Southern drawl that won't quit. It's the same accent many older folks from his walk of life have.

I wish you could hear him. He sounds like an afternoon in the shade, swatting gnats. And if you don't know what I mean, you probably own a snow shovel.

Right now, Donald is telling a story about his days picking tobacco in lower Alabama. But it doesn't matter what he's talking about. I could listen to him read the phonebook with that voice.

He uses old phrases, like: "you got it, buddy," instead of, "you're welcome." Or: “by all means,” which is how folks used to

say the word, “yes.”

There's a difference between new talking and the old kind.

Try listening to a few elderly women chat, you'll swear you've gone backward in time. All they have to do is open their mouths, and the old stories practically tell themselves. They'll carry on about catching frogs by the pond, outdoor country dances, and sneaking past the ushers in the old theater.

While you're at it, ask one of them for a sample of her poundcake—they always have cake on the counter.

When you do, all ten will…

Friends visited, brought flowers, told Jordan all the usual things said in hospitals. Like, “Keep fighting, buddy,” or, “C'mon, Jordan, we love you.”

Tuesday, 12:01 p.m.—Grady Hospital, Atlanta. A group of people gathered around a hospital bed and sang, “Happy Birthday.” The beeping of the life-support machines accompanied them.

This is the burn unit, where they send bad cases.

In the bed: Jordan Sims. His family hardly recognizes him. He doesn't look much like the Jordan they remember. He's a burned-up, bloody, purple mess.

It happened on a Sunday night in Valley, Alabama. He lost control of his car, colliding headfirst into a tree. The vehicle caught fire— Jordan pinned inside. Nearby neighbors doused it with residential garden hoses. Emergency responders had to cut his body from the front seat, the

life-flight helicopter carried him to Atlanta.

One all-night surgery later, here Jordan lays. Eyes taped shut. His liver has taken a beating. His arms and legs have the worst kinds of burns you could have. He has too many bone fractures to count, his stomach is wide open, and they amputated his right leg.

Now for the bad news.

Doctors found two fractured vertebrate and enough fluid on his brain to fill a watermelon. Not only that, but his kidneys are a wreck.

They tried to wake him, to inspect the cranial…'s okay for grown men to feel like little boys from time to time—kind of like I'm feeling right now.

I thought of you a few days ago. I was driving past a controlled burn. The fire department had lit up half of the lower Alabamian forest. It was terrifying but beautiful—the flames surrounding the trees. Fire trucks lined the road. It took several men on four-wheelers just to manage it.

"That's a prescribed burn," you said once, watching a forest fire. "It can save the woods, kills off bad things."

"Really?" I asked.

"Yes sir. You should see this forest in a few months. It'll be green, far as the eye can see. Fire ain't always a bad thing."

Maybe not. But

it's deadly stuff. I remember the day we burned off thistles and dead weeds in the pasture. After saturating ten acres with gasoline, the fire got all the way to the porch and nearly burned our house down.

The things I remember.

I also remember the time I wrecked the tractor. And how I did chores for god-knows-how-long to pay it off. Afterward, you rewarded me with a fishing trip, where I caught a large mouth the size of my leg.

You pulled it in the boat and said, “This here's the…

Take my house and give it to a worthy cause. Maybe a place for abused women. If you put bunks in each room, you can sleep roughly sixteen.

When I'm dead, I want my old truck donated to science. It has hundreds of thousands of miles on it. Every time I take the ratty thing to the mechanic, he says something like, “I don't know how this thing keeps going, man."

Me neither.

Maybe, scientists can figure out the secret, then bottle it up and sell it.

Also: I'd like to give all my money—every cent of it—to the children's choir for at-risk teens. Most of them come from broken homes that make my life look like Windsor Palace.

I once drove three hours to see those kids perform at a high school in

Alabama. I was one of twenty in the audience. Those children danced and sang for two hours until their clothes were sweaty.

For the life of me, I don't know what they have to be so happy about. Whatever it is, they deserve more of it.

Take my house and give it to a worthy cause. Maybe a place for abused women. If you put bunks in each room, you can sleep roughly sixteen. I've done the math. You're going to need a bigger kitchen.

And sixteen more bathrooms.