She was a cashier at a supermarket. You’ve probably seen her before. You might have even pushed your buggy through her checkout lane.

You couldn’t miss her. She was the nice, late-middle-aged lady behind the register, ringing you up, asking if you were having a nice day while she scanned your Folgers, your Wonderbread, your Little Debbies, your frosted raspberry Pop Tarts, and your Cocoa Pebbles, which, let’s be honest, is a far superior chocolate-flavored cereal than Cocoa Krispies.

She was the cashier everyone loved, clad in a red apron and a smile.

But many of us never really stopped and paid attention to her. After all, we shoppers lead pretty busy lives.

Usually, when she asked how customers were doing, most would glance up from their smartphones momentarily and say, “Good, thanks,” then go back to thumbing away on their screens.

Most folks totally neglected to ask how she was doing.

Still. If these people would have looked closer they would have noticed that her name tag said Monica, and that she was a very cheerful woman with a soft spoken personality.

She had piano-black hair, caramel skin, and dark eyes. Her mother was from Chiapas, Mexico. Her father was from Davenport, Iowa. She was born in Florida, but moved around a lot because she was a military kid.

Ah, military kids.

Military children are a unique bunch. They don’t put down roots, many have no official hometown. It’s just part of the deal. Your parents move from assignment to assignment, from coast to coast, from country to country.

One year you’re in California, the next you’re in Kanagawa, Japan. It all blurs together in your childhood memory. You’re always attending new schools, endlessly making fresh starts.

You make friends on a playground in Clovis, New Mexico, and by the next year you’re in Ramstein, Germany, trying to pronounce “Sprichst du Englisch?” for a teacher who looks like the Kaiser.

Then, suddenly, one day you’re an adult.

Boom. Just like that. Adulthood creeps up on you. You wake up in your apartment and realize there is a sixty-year-old supermarket cashier in your mirror.

You have no family. Not many friends. Your parents have both passed away, and all you have is your little dog, Marvin, who is a Yorkshire terrier, a purebred, which means he costs more than a four-bedroom beachfront bungalow.

In other words, you’re lonely. And you’ve been lonely for sixty years.

Enter Patrick.

Patrick was just a normal guy who walked through your checkout line. He was early seventies, salt-and-pepper hair, and a sloppy dresser. He bought groceries four or five times per week, and he was always buying frozen dinners.

Frozen dinners are a dead giveaway for a bachelor.

Patrick always made a point to walk through your checkout lane. Always. Even if your line was ten miles long, Patrick waited. He never, not even once, bothered with that self checkout business.

There was something about him you liked. It wasn’t just his looks, it was the way he looked at you. He looked at you like he was really—well—looking at you.

What a concept.

Sometimes, he’d come into the store and buy the most banal things just to see you. He’d buy a few sticks of gum, or a magazine, or a pair of toenail clippers. And over time, you started to get the impression that Patrick was buying way too many toenail clippers.

You started dressing a little cuter for work. You spent a shipload of money getting your hair done weekly. You checked the stink-status of your breath more often.

Then came that day when old Pat finally got up the nerve to ask you out.

Boy, oh, boy. What a trainwreck. You both stumbled through niceties like eighteen-year-olds. He stuttered, and a trail of customers continued to grow behind Patrick in the checkout lane.

Finally the old lady behind Patrick said, “Could we hurry this up already?”

You could tell he was nervous. This made you nervous. Which only made him more nervous. Pretty soon, you wanted to puke or pass out. Or both.

“Would you…?” he began, but he got choked up. “Would you, ah, like to, ah, maybe, ah, go out to dinner, ah, sometime?”

There it was.

At first, you didn’t want to get your hopes up. But then it hit you. You’re sixty freaking years old. What good is hope if you don’t get it up?

Dinner was glorious. It was an awkwardly enchanted night filled with bloopers, fumbles, and bumbles. But it was the first time he’d seen you out of your red apron, and you felt lovely. It was also the first time you felt unalone. Perhaps, for the first time in a long time.

After more dates, more laughs, and more dinners, one evening Patrick walked you to your apartment doorstep and held you tightly. He looked you in the eyes and promised to never quit holding you. You believed him. And ten years later, he’s still keeping that promise.

And this writer just wanted to say happy anniversary to Pat and Monica.


  1. Dennis Browne - November 7, 2021 6:24 am

    Great story to remind me of the importance of relationship … and holding each other. Btw … CocoaPuffs over Cocoa Pebbles any day … any time !

  2. Christina - November 7, 2021 6:51 am

    Sweetest of love! Happy anniversary Monica & Patrick!

  3. Sandi. - November 7, 2021 7:36 am

    I’d like to add my Happy Anniversary wishes to Pat and Monica. May God bless them with many more years together as husband and wife!

  4. Deborah Blount - November 7, 2021 8:06 am

    Happy Anniversary, Pat and Monica!

  5. Karen Erwin-Brown - November 7, 2021 10:20 am

    Very sweet

  6. Leigh R Amiot - November 7, 2021 10:43 am

    Thank you, Sean, for the smile I realized was on my face after reading this.
    Happy Anniversary, Pat and Monica!

  7. Linda H - November 7, 2021 11:16 am

    Been there, done that … 48 years old and alone for so long. Co-worker suddenly started hanging around my office more and more … we’d worked together for more than five years. Broke my cardinal rule of never dating someone I worked with because if it didn’t work out there you were … seeing each other everyday unless one quit. Nervous as a 16 year old on my first date. Found out later so was he. Later told me he couldn’t believe someone as beautiful as me would want to go out with him … ME? He was talking about ME?? That was almost 24 years ago and he still makes my heart skip a beat when he comes into the room. Wouldn’t change a single moment. Ah, love …..

  8. Charlie Mathers - November 7, 2021 11:22 am

    Thank you Sean for noticing both of us!❤️

  9. Debbie - November 7, 2021 11:36 am

    What a sweet story! Happy Anniversary, y’all!!

  10. Elizabeth McLaughlin - November 7, 2021 11:47 am

    Love this story! It’s so encouraging and gives us all hope that everyone will find love, no matter the age. 😍

  11. Christine - November 7, 2021 11:52 am

    Happy Anniversary Pat and Monica and many more.
    God Bless You❤️❤️

  12. Cecelia P LeBlanc - November 7, 2021 12:09 pm

    Happy Anniversary Patrick and Monica!

  13. Karen - November 7, 2021 12:27 pm

    Happy Anniversary to Pat and Monica.

  14. Paul McCutchen - November 7, 2021 12:31 pm

    Just goes to show its never to late.

  15. Ray Huckabone - November 7, 2021 12:37 pm

    We have a lot of similarities with Pat and Monica althoughthe ages differ. We just celebrated our 18th. Happy Anniversary Pat and Monica.

  16. Jeanette - November 7, 2021 12:45 pm

    And how did Marvin take all this? Happy Anniversary!

  17. Lisa K Riley - November 7, 2021 12:47 pm

    Happy Anniversary, Pat and Monica!

  18. Joan Moore - November 7, 2021 12:52 pm

    Happy for you to have found each other forever.

    • Nancy Grinstead - November 10, 2021 10:50 pm

      Happy Anniversary Patrick and Monica!
      Someday <3

  19. Patricia A Schmaltz - November 7, 2021 12:57 pm

    Ahhhhh…. then the tears!

  20. perryteri4gmailcom - November 7, 2021 1:13 pm

    Sean, it’s so wonderful that you work hard to really SEE people! Your writing warms my heart and helps me see. Happy Anniversary, Pat and Monica!!

  21. Eliza - November 7, 2021 1:15 pm

    Aaaaaah! Young love!

  22. Cherrie Haugh - November 7, 2021 1:32 pm

    Love, love, love!! Happiest of anniversaries to you Pat and Monica!! Cheers to finding Love! ❤️❤️

  23. Elizabeth, Pittsburgh, PA - November 7, 2021 1:39 pm

    Lovely. I dare anyone to read this and not get just a bit misty. Lovely. Your writing always touches a nerve…this piece is no exception.

  24. Nancy Crews - November 7, 2021 1:46 pm

    ❤your writing

  25. Molly - November 7, 2021 1:47 pm

    Happy Anniversary to Monica and Patrick! Beautiful love story. We all need to be noticed. We all need a good friend!

  26. NancyB. - November 7, 2021 2:00 pm

    Happy Anniversary, Pat and Monica!

  27. Shelton A. - November 7, 2021 2:06 pm

    Happy Anniversary, you two. God bless. Sean, thanks for the sweet story.

  28. Tammy S. - November 7, 2021 2:07 pm

    Happy Anniversary, Pat & Monica!! 💙💗

  29. Cynthia Russell - November 7, 2021 2:22 pm


  30. Stacey Wallace - November 7, 2021 2:43 pm

    Happy Anniversary, Pat and Monica! Sean, thanks for making my day. I’m nervous about my heart cath tomorrow, and that sweet story helped. God’s got this. I‘ll be fine.

  31. Cathy - November 7, 2021 4:00 pm

    Happy Anniversary to Pat and Monica❤️ Loneliness is tough for most people and it’s wonderful when two lonely people find each other.

  32. Linda keenum - November 7, 2021 4:16 pm

    awww, I love your love stories!!! I think you write them so well because you are well loved!! Thank you for writing each day, I enjoy each of them….funny or sad or thought provoking. You are very talented, and it’s amazing how many of us southern folks identify and appreciate your writing. Thank you

  33. Sandra Schumann - November 7, 2021 4:17 pm

    Happy Anniversary, Monica and Pat! What a lovely love story!

  34. Naomi - November 7, 2021 4:23 pm

    I am a military wife, although my husband was in the Air Force Reserve by the time we got married. We are both in a second marriage, and in January we will have been married 42 years. There are a lot of perks to being in the military (if there is no war going on). If you want to travel, you can stay at any American military base anywhere in the world. Since my husband was an officer, we could eat at any officer’s club anywhere in the world. If you stay in the service for 20 years, you can get all of your prescription medicine for free or at a minimal charge. You also have VA benefits if you have a VA hospital near you. When I was working for the Federal Government, I wanted to apply for a civilian job somewhere in Europe. I thought that it would give my teenage children a chance to see the world. However, my daughter didn’t want to move away from her friends. Now that she is a grandmother, she regrets not moving to Europe.

  35. Jim Broome - November 7, 2021 4:55 pm

    What a great love story!! Thanks Sean and Happy Anniversary Pat and Monica.

  36. LBJ - November 7, 2021 5:45 pm

    Here’s to so many happy, healthy more’❤️

  37. imcdbw - November 7, 2021 5:47 pm

    Ah, Sean! Such sweetness! When someone actually “sees” you! You and Jamie have that. John and I had that for 42 years. Such a huge blessing! Thank you, God! And thank you for Pat and Monica!

  38. James L. Hudgins - November 7, 2021 6:16 pm

    You add joy, reality, honor and occasionally some usefull info. Read you daily. If you want to know who is writing check Google. James L Hudgins. S. C.

  39. Babs - November 7, 2021 6:46 pm

    Happy Anniversary, Pat and Monica. Sean, how do you get your stories, and then manage to hit the head on the nail every time??

  40. Linda Moon - November 7, 2021 7:44 pm

    An answer from a smart brain, a kind heart, and eye contact would have been a good way to answer the cashier’s question. “I’m fine, Monica…how are you?” would’ve worked wonders. So, here’s my ‘Happy-Happy’ to the couple! BTW, I add my own hand-grated dark chocolate to my Bran cereal…a chocoholic’s excuse for some healthy food!

  41. MAM - November 7, 2021 7:56 pm

    So sweet! It’s wonderful when lonely folks find one another. Even if the folks behind them have to wait! Thanks for a great story, Sean! You are so perceptive and see al the details!

  42. SallyJo - November 7, 2021 9:52 pm


  43. Debbie g - November 7, 2021 10:34 pm

    Happy anniversary Monica and pat I love your love story. And thank you Sean love to all

  44. Karen Snyder - November 7, 2021 11:40 pm

    Awww, how wonderful. Happy Anniversary, Monica and Pat. Wishing you many more. ❤️

  45. Lyn - November 7, 2021 11:49 pm

    So glad they found each other and I am wishing them many more anniversaries to celebrate.

  46. Anne Moulton - November 8, 2021 1:42 am

    How sweet!❤️… love this story😊

  47. Dean - November 8, 2021 1:44 am

    Happy Anniversary and many more

  48. Christie McRae - November 8, 2021 3:43 am

    Beautiful story & Happy Anniversary Pat & Monica- and many more! It’s nice to feel un-alone, that someone cares. Look people in the eye, connect, care. It can change someone’s world.

  49. Kathy - November 8, 2021 2:47 pm

    What a beautiful love story! Helps me believe.

  50. Diann - November 8, 2021 4:09 pm

    This just made me feel good all over!

  51. Lisa Perkins - November 8, 2021 8:06 pm

    So sweet! Happy anniversary Pat and Monica!!! Wishing you many more years of health, happiness and fun times together!

  52. Katherine D Kempf Jones - November 9, 2021 2:23 am

    Sean – So Wonderful – As Usual!
    Your column is a guaranteed Pick-me-up, always. No matter what or when I’m able to read it!
    Keep it going Sean – I truly believe that the Lord has given you the gift of observation and the perspective to see and to write about these very Human experiences. I look forward to your next column very much! – May all the Right Words come to you easily and quickly! – DiAn

  53. Sandy Puckett - November 9, 2021 1:19 pm

    Love, love. Love this one!

  54. Kate - November 12, 2021 2:01 pm

    Catching up this morning on your columns. More tears. You probably don’t realize it, but to me you really do “Gods work” everyday. You are so good are doing good.

  55. Suzi - November 16, 2021 12:08 pm

    Cinderella and Prince Charming at their best❤️

  56. Buddy Caudill - November 21, 2021 2:54 pm

    Happy Anniversary, Pat and Monica !!

  57. Bob - November 22, 2021 1:38 pm

    Awe! So sweet! Great piece this morning. Thank you.


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