Over my bed hung the painting of a mother and son, saying grace at a crowded cafe table. It was right beside my all-time favorite painting: elderly musicians, playing music in a barbershop.

I love flea markets and antique stores. This is because I like old things for which there is no use.

Antique pocket knives, porcelain cowboy figurines, hundred-year-old snuff tins, arrowheads, and tin coffee pots.

I am holding one such coffee pot. A percolator just like this used to sit in my father’s garage workshop on an electric hot plate.

I had my first coffee from a tin pot. It tasted like ditch-water and aluminum. But it didn’t matter because in that garage my father and I talked about things.

Things like: fishing, batting stances, the proper way to clean fried chicken bones, and God.

“Is God real?” I once asked.

He smiled. “Have you ever seen a little sign from above? Something that just sticks out, and seems like it means something?”

I shrugged.

“Well I have,” he said. “I see’em everywhere, every single day. Once you start looking for them, you see all sorts of little things that prove there’s someone Upstairs.”

I miss his simple explanations.

At this flea market, I find a Norman Rockwell compilation book. You probably won’t care about this, but as a boy I had this exact book. My father gave it to me.

My father handed it to me and said, “Old Norm sees the world in such a happy way. I think you’ll like old Norm.”


After my father died, I cut out the pages of that book and tacked them to my bedroom walls. They were reminders of who my father used to be.

Over my bed hung the painting of a mother and son, saying grace at a crowded cafe table. It was right beside my all-time favorite painting: elderly musicians, playing music in a barbershop.

I once visited a Norman Rockwell exhibit. I drove to Birmingham to see it. I was first in line at the museum. The lady who took my ticket said, “Oh, you’re in for a real treat.”

She wasn’t kidding. It took me three hours to walk through the paintings. It’s the only art exhibit I’ve ever seen—and the only one I will probably ever see.

If you can believe it, I went back to the museum the following morning to look at the paintings again.

The lady over admissions said, “Wasn’t one dime tour enough?”


She unhooked the velvet rope and said, “This one’s on the house.”

Anyway, this flea market. I’m at a checkout counter, I pay the cashier. She is a middle-aged lady. She has wiry gray hair, an American-flag lapel pin on her T-shirt.

She inspects the coffee pot, then looks at the Norman Rockwell book. She smiles while she flips through the book.

“I love these paintings,” she says. “Old Norm saw this world in such a happy way, didn’t he?”

It was a familiar thing to hear.

Not that it matters what I think, but I believe in signs from above. I believe our loved ones watch over us.

I believe in God.

And it’s good to know you’re around, Daddy.


  1. Judy Kate - October 14, 2018 5:50 am

    No wonder you like old Norm. You and he go way back and he inspired you through the decades. Need another sign? To quote B. Yerry’s comment on yesterday’s story, “You are a writer as Norman Rockwell was an artist. He painted what he saw and you write about what you see.”

    • Barb of the North - October 14, 2018 10:35 am

      Judy Kates expresses it perfectly by quoting another follower, B.Yerry, “You are a writer as Norman Rockwell was an artist. He painted what he saw and you write about what you see.” Sean, an artist and craftsman with words, painting a story that pulls us into the scene, the memory, the conversation, allowing us to see things familiar and notice that which we overlook. Thank you Sean, for sharing life in a beautiful way. Most definitely believe. Our Heavenly Father watches over us all. The signs are all around us. Gratefully yours.

    • johnallenberry - October 18, 2018 1:52 pm

      Dang… I don’t think I could improve on that!

  2. Pamela McEachern - October 14, 2018 6:12 am

    I believe too, and I am sentimental to a fault. But…I don’t care, it is what gets me through.

    Peace and Love ftom Birmingham and Prayers for everyone that was in the path of Michael. You are loved.

  3. Lucretia - October 14, 2018 7:25 am

    Thank you, Sean, for expressing what you think, it really does matter! I too believe in signs from above. I too believe that our loved ones watch over us. I too believe in God. Lucretia

  4. Nancy Rogers - October 14, 2018 11:00 am

    I believe also. Thank you Sean.

  5. Susan Self - October 14, 2018 11:52 am

    You Sean, have been a sign for me. The simple goodness of man that you write about has been my heart medicine. Thank you.

  6. Marcia MacLean - October 14, 2018 12:22 pm

    I knew we are kindred spirits, Sean… I have a collection of Norman Rockwell figurines. The only thing I bought at an antique store was a can of Prince Albert tobacco for old times sake. As a child we used to make prank calls to the local grocery store and ask if they had Prince Albert in a can. When told “yes” we’d laugh and say, “Well you better let him out!”. Another good one from you today.

  7. Anita Ryan - October 14, 2018 12:39 pm

    Such a beautiful article! I love antiques, flea markets and thrift stores. I paid a few dollars for four Norman Rockwell prints at an estate sale a while back. They are treasures because I love his simple depiction of life. I read your articles along with my morning devotions and often they are an extension of the devotions. Thank you for your wonderful, simple writings!

  8. Beckie - October 14, 2018 12:54 pm

    Thank you

  9. Mary Kistler - October 14, 2018 1:13 pm

    To see and recognize the enduring goodness God pours over us is a gift that can help erase some of the negative things.

  10. Debbie Phillips Hughett - October 14, 2018 1:24 pm

    I saw that exhibit. It was a nice one.

  11. Michele Sandstead - October 14, 2018 2:00 pm

    I have that same Norman Rockwell book in my antiques shop! Flutterby Antiques in Destin is just right up the road from your home, Sean. I probably have a tin coffee pot or two also! I would love to meet you one day. Like so many other of your devoted readers, I read you every day. I love how you love people…and furry babies! Have a blessed Sunday!

  12. Dianne - October 14, 2018 4:23 pm

    How timely your story is today. Just this past week, I saw a Norman Rockwell magazine cover and told my husband that Norm would be so disappointed in what has happened to his “Americana” portrayals of how our lives used to be……….happy, simple, and people getting along. Thanks for sharing this, and yes, God is everywhere if we just take the time to look and see him.

  13. Richard C. - October 14, 2018 6:03 pm

    On point my friend. (I call you friend though we’ve never met except through your writings.). Thanks for writing about Florala the other day. I will know you’ve arrived when you write about Harold Elmore of the Stanley Community (9 miles south of Andalusia on highway 55). May God bless you, your wife and your dogs.

  14. Joe Vanden Heuvel - October 14, 2018 7:42 pm

    Thank you Sean for your stories and all the wonderful things you do for all of us. Joe

  15. Mary Ellen Hall - October 14, 2018 11:07 pm

    I believe our LOVED ones watch over us, also!!


    Mary Ellen

  16. Shelton Armour - October 15, 2018 12:13 am

    I believe that incidents like yours in the shop are not coincidences.

    • Deb Phillips - December 4, 2018 5:58 pm

      They’re “God-winks”!

  17. Jean O’Neal - October 15, 2018 3:52 am

    Ran upon his Vermont studio by accident a few years ago. As we were taking pictures of a beautiful covered bridge near Arlington, a lady fly fishing called out to us that Norman Rockwell’s studio was just around the curve. So glad she told us!

  18. Ruby - October 15, 2018 1:17 pm

    I was working one day and a lady came in with a cookie jar. She wasn’t my patient, so we hadn’t spoken to each other very much. She gave me the cookie jar and told me she had brought it for me. It was just like the cookie jar that we had in our home when I was growing up over 50 years ago. It brought back so many memories. Only God could have done that!

  19. Pat - October 15, 2018 3:09 pm

    When you receive that sign from the other side you never forget it!

  20. Janet Mary Lee - October 15, 2018 3:15 pm

    Amen!! Just Amen!!!

  21. Jack Darnell - October 17, 2018 1:41 am

    I am a Norman Rockwell fan myself. I have a pencil drawing in my files. It is an exact copy of a Norman. It was of a sailor getting a tattoo. I was aboard ship and received it from an artist. The Artist was my nephew, he was in prison. I loved that guy but he spent more time in prison than free after HS. He was an artist with brick and mortar also. He had the personality of an angel, but could not leave drugs alone. Too long a story. He died young but I cherish the picture.

  22. Donna Johns - October 17, 2018 2:53 pm


  23. Wendy Franks - October 18, 2018 2:49 am

    I’m late posting because I’m catching up reading Sean’s beautiful stories. Just had the same thought as Dianne above. Where have the simpler days gone?
    It’s sad for this ol’ woman, but I’m happy we have Sean! So blessed are we by his writings!

  24. Patricia - December 4, 2018 8:54 am

    It’s good to be reminded that God is around. Thank you Sean.

  25. Deb Phillips - December 4, 2018 5:59 pm


  26. Sam Seetin - December 5, 2018 9:07 am

    Good stuff…Might consider visiting Norm Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Ma where he lived and worked.

  27. Debbie Chapman - December 5, 2018 11:39 am

    Dearest Sean, your father does watch over you. He has always been with you. Please take comfort in that.
    Debbie (you know, The Kook from Indiana)


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