I’m not going to do this story justice. But I’m going to try. Please, bear with me.

It happened in April, 2019. In Washington, the Evergreen State. State tree: the Western hemlock. State flower: the traffic cone.

It was late. There was a woman about to kill herself. The woman was young. She was standing on the ledge of a freeway overpass. Holding a stuffed animal. Hair blowing in all directions. She was going to do it. She was really going to do it.

Traffic whizzed beneath her. Roaring engines. Red tail lights. Endless rivers of Detroit engineering, Dearborn steel, and Peterbilt 379s. This was the end. Game over.

The weeping woman gazed at the long chain of speeding headlights and said a simple prayer into the din of interstate traffic.

“Jesus, I’m going to kill myself. If you’re real, you’ll stop me. I’m giving you five minutes to prove that you care about me.”

Meantime, across town, Officer Rob Kearney was involved in another call. He heard the radio call for the suicide attempt. He

overheard one of the officers speaking over the airwaves, and there was a timbre to the Officer’s voice that concerned Rob.

Something made Officer Rob leave his call and divert to assist. On his way to the scene, more calls came in. “She’s standing on the railing,” the radio chatter was saying. “She’s gonna jump!”

Officer Rob flipped on his lightbar. He stamped on the gas. Hi-Lo sirens blaring.

By the time he got there, there were other officers on the scene. What they all saw surprised them. A civilian man, a stranger, had wrapped his arms around the young woman. The civilian was bear-hugging her tightly, to keep her safe.

She wanted to jump. She was trying to jump. But she couldn’t. The stranger had his arms entwined around her, he wasn't letting her go.

In only moments, officers were involved in the…

Last night the old quilting club got back together for the first time. Nine older ladies gathered in Denise’s living room in rural West Virginia. They sat in a big circle, just like women did in days of yore. They had a kind of socially-distanced quilting bee.

The group welcomed a new member into the fold. Andrea, who is 14 years old. She was the youngest in a roomful of women who were all over age 70.

The first thing anyone should know about quilting is that a quilt is NOT just a blanket. The women are clear on this. Especially not a patchwork quilt. Miss Denise, who founded this group 21 years ago, describes a quilt like this:

“It’s like building a four-bedroom house with a needle.”

Miss Denise remembers her first solo quilt when she was 12 years old. She worked on it for a solid year using scrap material salvaged from her father’s old clothes. She remembers laboring on this quilt while listening to the Everly Brothers sing “All

I Have to Do Is Dream” on a record player.

“I’ve been quilting for a long time,” she says quietly.

On average, a large patchwork quilt takes about 100 hours to complete. Some quilts move quicker; others take longer. Either way, there is a lot more than just needlework involved in constructing the Great American Quilt.

Denise tells me there’s planning, drawing, gathering, cutting, arranging, sewing, fixing mistakes, binding, and constantly repouring glasses of wine.

“Yes, wine,” says Denise. “That’s an important part of our little club. I like the pink wines best. I’m Methodist, we’re allowed to drink.”

The art of quilting is believed by some to date back to 3400 B.C. And to give you an idea of just how old that is: the Sahara Desert began to form around this period.

The pharaohs used quilts. There is also evidence of quiltwork in ancient Asia. Medieval…

Last night, the young man found himself in an old hardware store. There were a bunch of old timers, sitting around drinking coffee. Lots of laughing. The irreverent kind of laughs you hear from old men.

Now and then, customers would walk into the store and ask for this or that. An old guy in the group would lead them to the correct aisle, to help them find whatever they needed. The old guy looked familiar.

But the young man couldn’t put his finger on how he knew him. The cotton-white hair. Those horn-rimmed drugstore glasses. The waistband of his trousers, pulled clear up to his nipples.

He looked like the guy who used to sit on the front porch when the young man was a child, playing mandolin.

The young man’s grandfather used to play mandolin. As a boy, he could remember seeing his grandfather sing old-time music while stomping his right heel onto the porch floorboards, picking away on “Turkey in the Straw.”

The young man left the store. He was in the street

now, walking. He was, evidently, in a little town.

Lampposts. Sidewalks. A barbershop pole. The whole deal. There were people everywhere. It was evening, the world was lit with a beautifully pink sun. He half expected to see Bernard P. Fife making his rounds.

A woman bumped into him. She was carrying groceries. She was young. Pretty. She looked like someone he once knew. Like Meredith Alison, from his grade school days.

As a girl, Meredith had misshapen lower legs. The doctor said her spine was as crooked as a congressman. By fourth-grade, she couldn’t walk and used a wheelchair. Eventually she didn’t need the chair because she died from health complications. The young man never forgot her.

“Do you remember me?” said the young woman.


She was smiling. “Yes, it’s me!”

“But, you can WALK!”

They were interrupted when the young man…

MARGARET BRADFORD: Hi, Sean, I am disappointed in you… I found several typos and errors in your recent columns. I have no tolerance for bad grammar and elementary mistakes… I taught English for 42 years in the Illinois public school system and these mistakes aggravate me. Maybe it’s a Southern thing to treat English flippantly, but I promise you, here in the Midwest, we take our language seriously.

COMMENT: Your absolutely right. I apoligise.

JOHN NORMAN: Sean, I am a full-time pastor in Oklahoma. I notice you so often write about beer and alcohol, and this grieves my spirit. I believe this conflicts with your message of faith and hope.”

COMMENT: Hi, John. You are definitely not Episcopal.

SANDRA: In your recent story about heaven and hell I detected DOUBT in your words! My heart tells me you KNOW HELL IS REAL and if you have NOT MADE A PUBLIC profession to follow OUR SAVIOR, I’m sorry, but you’re going TO HELL! Why not PUBLICLY make a profession of faith right now? Here is my

phone number, if you ever want to talk!”

COMMENT: You aren’t Episcopal, either.

BRIAN SCHMIDT: Good works won’t get you to heaven, Sean. Are you saved?

COMMENT: I wish people worried about unadopted foster kids half as much as they worried about my soul.

CHELSEA: You haven’t written about your dogs in a while. Are they okay? I love Marigold, the blind hound. How is she?

COMMENT: She’s good. She has a minor skin rash, so we took her to the vet. They love Marigold at the vet’s office, they always say, “Marigold is SUCH A JOY!”

Anyway, the vet said the rash is nothing to worry about so they prescribed ointment which costs roughly the price of a nuclear submarine, and they put her on steroids, which makes her thirsty, so now she makes “such a joy” all over the kitchen floor.


A crowded bar. The man is sitting beside me. He’s wearing a tuxedo. Which is a little weird. It’s not every day you see a guy in a tux on the Fourth of July.

The place is crowded. Everyone is getting their patriotic beer. It’s elbow-to-elbow in this joint.

“I’m wearing a tux because I’m going to surprise my girlfriend,” the man says. “I’m going to ask her to marry me.”

“You need a tux to do that?”

“What. You think it’s a little overboard?”

I jingle the change in my pockets. “No.”

He’s no spring chicken. I’d guess he’s in his mid-50s. Maybe older.

“I’m 43,” he explains. “But I’ve got kids.”

He’s been dating his girlfriend since last year. Their story is unconventional. They met on a trip to Texas, on a Greyhound bus. He was traveling to attend the funeral of his former father-in-law. He was bringing both his daughters with him—ages 5 and 9.

They were all on the bus. His 5-year-old was struggling in the bathroom, trying not to pee on her dress. She kept calling from the

commode for her daddy to help her. The woman seated in the row outside the bathroom asked if he needed help.

“No,” he told the strange woman. “This isn’t my first rodeo.”

He is once-divorced. His ex-wife decided she didn’t want to be a mother, about six years into their marriage. She just walked out. One day she was there. The next day, all her clothes were gone.

“I was instantly a single dad.”

The woman on the bus listened to his story. Which was this: He was going to a funeral to see a lot of people whom he didn’t want to see because it was the right thing to do. She offered to be his plus-one. For moral support.

So that’s what happened. The man and his two daughters, and one stranger from the bus,…


I am an imaginary old man. I am a compilation of stories. I am every World War II veteran you never knew. Each faceless GI from the bygone European War. I am in my late 90s and 100s now. Young people don’t remember me, but I’m still here. For now.

I was one of the hundreds of thousands of infantrymen, airmen, sailors, marines, mess sergeants, seabees, brass hats, engineers, doctors, medics, buck privates, and rear-echelon potato-peelers.

We hopped islands in the Pacific. Served in the African war theater. We beat the devil, then came home and became the old fart next door.

We were babies. Wartime was one heckuva time to be young. We went overseas as teenagers, smooth skinned, scared spitless, with government haircuts, wearing brand new wedding rings. We hadn’t seen action, so we were jittery. We smoked through a week’s rations of Luckies in one day.

Then it happened. It was different for everyone, but it happened. You had your first taste of war.

Shells landed. People screamed. And

in an instant, your fear melted and you had a war job to do. It didn’t matter who you were or which post was yours. Everyone worked in the grand assembly line of battle. And when the smoke cleared and the action was over, we had new confidence in ourselves, and we were no longer boys.

Anyway, dear reader, we weren’t just boys, we were girls, too. There were a lot of females serving in the U.S. Armed Forces in World War II. People forget that.

Speaking of women. We guys were always talking about our sweethearts, wives, and mothers. If you mentioned someone’s girl a man was liable to talk for hours about her. And even if you’d already seen his wallet photos before, you never interrupted a guy talking about his gal. Because eventually you’d be talking about yours.

Of course the infantrymen…

The sun is low. The world is orangish pink. The Fourth of July weekend is at hand. I am another year older.

Lightning bugs are out. There are children in my neighborhood playing catch. They could be playing video games. They could be looking at dirty pictures on the internet. But they’re playing catch. I hear the rhythmic slap of a leather ball glove.

It was supposed to rain this evening, but it didn’t. Not really. It got cloudy. And the sun was still shining throughout the light drizzle. Where I come from, old-timers used to call such weather “the Devil beating his wife.”

The smell of a barbecue grill is wreaking havoc on my memories. I smell smoke. Hickory smoke, I’d guess. Although it could be pecan. Or Kingsford.

There is a ball game playing on my little Zenith radio, tuned to WJOX Birmingham-Tuscaloosa 94.5 AM. The Atlanta Braves are whooping the Miami Marlins like government mules. The old radio crackles with static.

Three weeks ago, Apple Inc. released Apple Vision Pro, a “mixed reality

headset soon to be available for purchase in 2024 in the United States.” A set of goggles that mixes software and reality. They call it “augmented reality.” Meaning, you can now live inside a computer world.

Thankfully, some of us still listen to Zenith radios, given to us by our fathers.

I hear an aluminum can, cracked open, in the far-off. “Hiss-kuh-KRACK!” Maybe it’s a Coca-Cola. Maybe it’s something stronger. I hope the latter.

Someone is sitting on their porch watching a television at low volume. It’s “Casablanca.” I can tell by the dialogue. The best dialogue in cinematic history:

“I am shocked—shocked—to find that gambling is going on in here.”

“Your winnings, sir.”

My dog, Otis (alleged Labrador) is lying at my feet. He is snoring beneath the weight of a deep sleep.

I watch him, and find myself wishing I could sleep…