I was going to write something else for Easter. I was going to tell you a few stories from around the U.S.

Like the church ladies who once hid 700 Easter eggs for a community church in Texas, and accidentally forgot to fill them with candy. If you can just imagine.

Then I was going to close by reminding everyone to fill their eggs with candy before they hide them.

But something happened to me. During my research for this column I fell into a wormhole. I came across more Easter stories than I could shake a bunny at. Which led to more stories. And more stories.

As of now, I have been reading for several hours and my eyes hurt.

Some of these stories were emails.

Like the email I got about a Connecticut woman who, for Good Friday, read an Easter story to her grandkids via video phone call. Quarantine style. The old woman did it cheerfully, even though she is in hospice care. Her hospice nurse held the phone.

I got

an email about a 25-year-old woman who got married last week. Her father did the wedding via the internet. The couple has no marriage certificate yet since they are quarantining. But the young woman said, “We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, we wanted to face this together.”

Or how about historic tales of Easter? Such as the Easter of 1918. Now there was a real doozy.

To start with, over in Europe, The War to End All Wars was raging. And the outbreak of the Spanish Flu was in full swing, worldwide.

I read handwritten letters from soldiers, writing to loved ones. I bawled like a baby.

Here’s one:

MARCH 31, 1918—“I miss you, oh dearest, this day feels empty without you beside me. I saw a train that was like an iron steed, I wish I could have been aboard and moving homeward...”


A few years ago. A secluded country highway. Lots of farms, silos, and flat nothingness.

My wife was driving. We were on our way home. We’d been out of town for days. We’d stayed in cheap hotels, ate crummy food, we were wearing and re-wearing our clothes.

It was Easter Sunday morning. We were tired. We had almost forgotten it was a holiday because being on the road too long will do that to you.

That’s when we kept noticing all the country churches along the highway. At each one were swarms of automobiles in each parking lot. People in pastel colors.

My wife said, “Look at all the cars.”

And I felt very guilty. My wife and I were both raised under a strict religious regime. To forget Easter was like forgetting to buy your mother a greeting card for Billy Graham’s birthday.

So we pulled over at a church. The building sat next to a large soybean field. Church people were staring at our car.

“What’re we doing?” I aksed my wife.

“Well, we can’t skip Easter,” she


“We look like two hobos,” I said. “I’m wearing a T-shirt, I probably smell bad.”

“We can’t skip Easter,” she pointed out again.

So we hiked up the steps into the little chapel. An elderly greeter adjusted his hearing aid and handed us a bulletin. He glanced at my wife’s ratty attire. T-shirt. Jeans. Flops.

By Southern Baptist Convention rules this was grounds for public execution. I’ve lost many good friends whose bodies were never found when they appeared in church without cufflinks.

We wandered toward a pew. We sat in the back. The lady next to me was elderly. She looked like every church woman you’ve ever known. Sky blue dress. White hair. I spoke to her to break the ice. She ignored me. I felt so ashamed.

Was it the way I smelled? Did I offend? I…

It is the twenty-third day of our quarantine and I thought I would go fishing. I am using an old Mepps spinner on a junky fishing rod.

So far, I haven’t caught anything but a sunburn and a 7UP bottle. About a hundred yards from me, I see an older man fishing alongside a little boy. I wave at them. They wave back.

And I am catapulted backward a hundred years.

I was a kid. I was sitting between my old man and my grandfather. There was a lake before us. Dark green water. Lots of frogs.

My grandfather was country people, just like everyone’s grandfather was. We held fishing rods. Mine was an el-cheapo from Kmart. My grandfather’s was bamboo, with Dacron fishing line.

Granddaddy sat on a rock, holding his rod. He was a stoic. War makes men that way. He was tying a spinner onto the end of his line. I remember this with startling clarity because his hands were so old. I marveled at how those fingers could be so


Daddy whispered into my ear, “Guess he's done with worms, he means business, by dog, that’s a Mepps spinner.”

By dog. We really talked like that. We also said things like, “I’ll be dogged,” and the ever popular “Doggone it.” These were beautiful words. Like cuss words, only you could use them around company.

It’s funny what you remember. His fishing rod was made of reddish bamboo, his reel looked older than an Egyptian sarcophagus. There was no telling how old it was. It didn’t look like the crummy kid-rods all my friends all had.

My Pocket Fisherman rod, for instance, was basically a piece of refuse. If you caught anything over ten ounces the rod snapped in two, you fell in the water, got bit by a water moccasin, and you died right there.

He wore one of those hats that looked like it…


I am really afraid of this virus that I basically haven’t even slept at night for weeks. No matter how much I try to stop thinking about it, it’s all I think about, and I am always worried about stuff. My mother died last year, and I am living with my grandma.



What I’m about to say is going to make no sense, so bear with me. If you can hang in there until the end of this column, you’ll win a free toaster oven.

Think about it like this:

Pretend that you have a rabid squirrel living inside your head. Got it? Good.

This squirrel is your brain. This is not an analogy. Modern science has actually proven that human nervous systems are all controlled by small crazed furry rodents who behave as though they are on their fifth cup of coffee.

Your personal squirrel is CRAZY! He’s always running in circles. He’s never at ease.

But hey, don’t get mad at the squirrel. You need him. This squirrel

(your brain) looks out for you. He’s making sure you eat, sleep, do your homework, wear clean underpants, etc. He just gets stuck on some issues.

Speaking of which. My mother was very hung up on the issue of clean underpants. It was as though she thought government employees were going to emerge from the shadows and perform randomized underwear checks. And if I was not wearing clean underpants I would be dragged outside and flogged with rubber hoses.

So before I go on, are you following me? I am saying:

1. Your brain is a squirrel.
2. My mother is obsessed with clean underpants.

This little squirrel will eat you alive. Not on purpose, he just gets so scared that he can’t help it. He probably sits around up there all day, slogging gallons of Mountain Dew so he can keep…

I am walking my dogs through a residential neighborhood. I pass a house with open windows and an open door. I hear an old piano playing. Music drifts from the windows, out to the street.

I stop walking to listen. The music reminds me of the feeling you get when you smell fresh bread.

There is something about the way freshly baked bread smells. It’s euphoric. Whenever I get homemade bread, I don’t eat it all at once. I keep it around so I can smell it. I usually do this before bed. That’s right, I sniff bread. They have support groups for this.

So that’s what this music is like. Bread. It’s a warm, soft sound.

What is this song? I know this tune. It takes me a few seconds.

“Up From the Grave He Arose” is the melody. The international Easter song of Baptists everywhere. This is the springtime anthem of my childhood.

See, every denomination has its own favorite Easter hymn. The Methodists love “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” because it

was written by John Wesley, who, in case you aren’t up on your history, was the founder of chicken broccoli casserole and Dixie-cup baptism.

The Pentecostals sing clapping songs. The Presbyterians don’t even clap at football games. And for Easter singing, the Church of Christ people march down the street to the Methodist church and set fire to the piano.

But we Baptists sing, “Up From the Grave He Arose.” And at least we did at my church. There are two sections to this song. The first section is done slow, like a funeral dirge:

“Looooowww in the Grave he lay,
“Jeeeeeeee-zussss my saay-vior…”

But when you get to the second section, you’re supposed to sing it “bright and lively.” Our piano player, Miss Betty, would bounce back and forth on her stool like she was playing ragtime piano on the Ed Sullivan Show.…

I remember the first time someone told me I was a good writer. It was a woman. She said, “Hey, you’re a good writer.” That was all. Five words.

Nobody had ever said this to me before. It’s kind of funny how one sentence can change a guy. Which is why I am writing to you. You know who you are.

No, I don’t know you, and no, you don’t know me, but you’re reading this. So in a way that means that these words are happening inside your head. That’s how reading works.

It’s kind of like I’m wandering around inside your brain, talking to you. And let me tell you, it’s pretty spacious up here in your head. Have you ever been up here? You should see this place. There is a lot of junk up here you need to get rid of.

Over there by that patch of brain matter is an old memory of your ex-boyfriend. Why are you still keeping that memory around? And over here, behind your cerebrum is the one from when

you peed your pants in the backseat of your aunt’s Oldsmobile. You really ought to throw that one away.

Since I’m in your head right now, this means I can say things and they might—if I’m lucky—stick with you. This is the magic of reading. I could write anything at all, and you’d sort of read it using your own internal voice.

For example: I could say, “Do not envision your grandmother sitting on the toilet.” Whereupon your brain would not only read that sentence in your own personal voice, you would immediately picture Mamaw reading her morning paper.

But I’m not going to say anything like that. Because that would be totally uncalled for. Still, I do have something important I want to say. So here it is:

You’re pretty great.

A lot of people don’t believe this about themselves.…

I receive a lot of questions in the form of emails, letters, and private messages. I wish I could answer them all, but it would be impossible. Not unless I hooked myself up to the internet intravenously. So today, I’d like to take the time to answer a few questions in the Q-and-A format. I’ll quit wasting time:

Q: You say “I love you” a lot in your blogs. That’s kind of creepy, you don’t even know me, and it’s such an overused phrase. I mean, come on, why do you use it so much?

A: Because.

Q: How are your dogs doing during this quarantine? I worry about them.

A: Well, actually they’re great. My wife and I usually spend the majority of our year on the road, so that means their Aunt Michelle lives with them while we gallivant around the U.S. doing whatever it is that we do. Before the quarantine, for instance, we had been on the road for almost a month.

So this is heaven for the dogs. They get to see us all day

every day. We even bathe together. They get to sleep in our bed. I get to sleep on the sofa.

Q: How did you start writing?

A: It’s sort of a double answer. When I was a kid I always wrote stuff. When I got older, I tried to do something with my work, but nobody wanted to publish a construction-working bar musician, and I couldn’t blame them. So I started a blog/online column/whatever-you-call-this. And my life was never the same.

Q: What’s your sign?

A: Thanks, but I’m already in a committed relationship.

Q: I once saw you playing music at a place in Destin, Florida, many years ago. You were playing accordion. Was that really you?

A: Who wants to know?

Q: Quit fooling, I mean for real.

A: I play piano, guitar, and accordion. I am mediocre…