We just got home from a week on the road. It’s been a busy seven days. I told stories in four different states, I ate a lot of barbecue, I saw a ballgame in Atlanta.
When we arrived home, our dogs were psychotic. Otis (alleged Labrador) was barking. Thelma Lou (bloodhound) was howling in a low-pitched voice.
If you ever hear a bloodhound howl, it will bless your heart.
Which reminds me. I’m starting to sound like my parents. My father used to use that phrase a lot, long before it became a T-shirt cliché. Whenever he talked about anything that was particularly good, that phrase was used.
For example: “Try the cornbread, it will bless your heart.”
Or: “There’s nothing like hearing Bill Gaither hit them high notes, like he’s been castrated, it’ll bless your heart.”
Years later, people started sending cutesy chain emails about this phrase and ruined it for the rest of us.
Still, the phrase had real meaning in my household. I remember once, when our church was shorthanded on nursery workers. Someone asked my father to help hold the newborns.
My father was in the nursery all Sunday. You couldn’t drag him away from that room. The blue-collar man rocked a hundred babies and kissed two hundred fat cheeks.
And when my mother asked him how it went, he said, “It blessed my heart.”
I’ll never forget that. And I’ll never forget him.
So anyway, after my dogs mauled me, I unloaded luggage from our vehicle. I heard a horn honking. It was the UPS truck. The deliveryman handed me a package and bid me good day.
When he drove away, I tore the manila paper and felt my breath catch. I wasn’t expecting it. It was a book. Written by me. My name was on the cover.
My name. There’s something about seeing your name in print. It does something to you.
My wife put her arms around me and I felt hot water roll down my cheeks.
“I’m sorry,” I kept saying because this is what grown men say when they cry. We’re taught from a very young age not to cry openly unless the coach says we can.
Although if I’m being completely honest, I’ve done a lot of crying in life. I grew up in a way that wasn’t pretty. After my father offed himself, I didn’t get the opportunities some of my friends got. My story isn’t unique, it’s the same story you’ve heard a hundred times before. It might even be your story.
Kid grows up without confidence. Kid feels like a loser. Kid believes he has the unique ability to screw up everything, even simple things. He thinks he is a walking talking mistake.
Kid drops out of school. Kid feels like white trash, wears Walmart clothes. Kid grows up and lives in sketchy places where his neighbors make fake handicapped parking passes on home printers and sell them for $50 on the black market.
That was me.
But this all changed when, by some stroke of fortune, I found a woman who saw through all that.
On our honeymoon night—I shouldn’t be telling you this—we stood on the hotel patio. Me in my tuxedo, her in her dress. We stared at the night sky, awkward in each other’s arms, daydreaming aloud.
“What kinda things do you want in life?” she asked the dropout.
“Me?” I said.
“I don’t know.”
“Sure you do.”
I shrugged. “I wanna be a writer.”
The words just popped out. I didn’t mean to say it. But sometimes you tell the truth by accident.
Tonight, I promised myself I wouldn’t write something sappy. Forgive me. So far, this column has been about as sappy as a Mrs. Butterworth commercial. But I can’t control myself. There is a book in my hands. It’s not my first book. And it won’t be my last. But it feels good to be holding it nonetheless.
“What’s it feel like holding your book?” asks my wife.
“I don’t know,” I said. “A little weird, I guess.”
“What’re you thinking?”
I have too many thoughts at once. Some good. Some bittersweet. Some sad.
I suppose I wish my father were alive. I wish I could see him hold this book and read the stuff on the cover. If he were here, I believe he would have cried along with me. Then he would have apologized for crying.
Then we would have had an ice cold beer. He would’ve toasted to his little boy. I would’ve given almost anything to see that. It would have been precious to me. No.
It would have blessed my heart.
PMc - August 28, 2022 7:38 am
Dear Sean…an author you are and we all are glad you were able to realize your dream. Jamie is the other precious dream you are also blessed to have. And I have a feeling in my heart you will have all the conversations you have been missing with your Dad. No worries just an eternity to get them in. You are a joy to us that follow your words and travels!
Peace and Love from Birmingham and Bless Your Heart ❣🤠
Ed (Bear) - August 28, 2022 8:11 am
Amen to PMc! Love to all
Mackenzie - August 28, 2022 8:30 am
Sean, you truly bless my heart each morning. Congratulations on your book! Love
Jennifer Sienes - August 28, 2022 9:19 am
Thank you for sharing, Sean. I didn’t grow up like you did, but I can relate. My mom told me my whole life I could be a writer–she believed it before I did. But she died much too young and never saw me get published. With every book that comes out, I wish more than anything that she was here to see our dream come true. Bless you.
Melissa Norman - August 28, 2022 10:30 am
Thank you for blessing all of our hearts!!! I love reading about your dad from your heart. I had a crappy dad, but, some incredible men choose to take his place and heal that wounded place. I was blessed with a wonderful maternal grandpa, uncle, step-father, and husband (deceased) who have have nursed my childhood wounds into scars of victory. Bless your heart!!!
Paula - August 28, 2022 10:53 am
Thank you for sharing your life. That phrase Bless my/your heart is so precious to me.
Joy Jacobs - August 28, 2022 10:58 am
It’s blessed my heart to read most of your books (the rest are on my “want to read” list on. GoodReads). Thanks for sharing your life. ❤️
Ann Thompson - August 28, 2022 11:12 am
You touch my heart with each column. Thank you
Renee Welton - August 28, 2022 11:25 am
Thank you for being so honest. If you weren’t it would be sappy, but this blessed my heart♥️
Patricia Collins - August 28, 2022 11:27 am
You bless our hearts ! ❤️
Diane - August 28, 2022 11:34 am
He saw. You bless my heart as well
Catherine I Buckler - August 28, 2022 11:46 am
Each morning I tell myself I will NOT mess up my makeup reading your column. Each morning I fail. Thank you Sean for inspiring, testing, encouraging, and all the other emotions, etc. you give each and every one of us!
Jean Sherrill - August 28, 2022 11:47 am
Congratulations! You bless my heart every day. There is something about a grown man who can shed tears because it shows me that they have a sweet spirit and a tender heart. Bless you Sean and your beautiful bride.
Pam Williams - August 28, 2022 12:01 pm
You bless my heart. ❤️
Patricia Parrish-Lewis (Trish) - August 28, 2022 12:08 pm
Sean of the South, your writing makes me a better person. MUCH better. You are loved by legions.
David Britnell - August 28, 2022 12:08 pm
This also blessed my heart!
Hawk - August 28, 2022 12:10 pm
“What kinda things do you want in life?”
Things like you.
“What’s it feel like holding your book?”
Like it does when you put your arms around. With you, I have everything.
Sometimes the person beside you is all you need.
Rosemary - August 28, 2022 12:16 pm
Congratulations on your new book! My husband and I look forward to reading it.
Nancy - August 28, 2022 12:19 pm
We all need to know the name of your new book!
Trudy - August 28, 2022 12:20 pm
Sean, you bless my heart every morning. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.
Richard - August 28, 2022 12:30 pm
Before any “father” there was “The Father”…….our Father. And our concept of fatherhood is imparted direct from heaven. I lost my father too, divorced before I knew him. But God my father did not leave me, and he even provided male , and female mentors as stand-ins for what I missed. Your story, my story has many unexpected plot twists, but the Author is an excellent writer and it blesses His heart to place that book in your hands. Read it and weep…….for joy!
Priscilla Rodgers - August 28, 2022 12:38 pm
Congratulations on your new book! And you bless my heart every morning no matter whether you make me laugh or cry.
elizabethroosje - August 28, 2022 12:39 pm
You are a great blessing and treasure to us! I am blessed every time I read your words!
Michael Dale Milita - August 28, 2022 12:45 pm
Name of your new book, and where to get it?
Bobby - August 28, 2022 12:53 pm
Your writings bless the heart of your many loyal readers, of whom I am one.
Anne Arthur - August 28, 2022 1:00 pm
Congratulations to your new book. I am eager to read it.
I would have felt similar feelings to yours, 1 trillion thoughts racing through my mind, if I’d be holding a freshly printed book with my name on it in my hands. Bless your heart, Sean.
I am certain, one day your daddy will tell you how proud he is of you.
Big hugs, enjoy your achievements, you so deserve it.
Susan H Poole - August 28, 2022 1:03 pm
To Sean, the author who blesses our hearts: definitely one of your best!💌
Becky Constable - August 28, 2022 1:06 pm
Sir, you bless our hearts. I too lost my dad young. Your dad and my dad see us. God bless.
lfhuling - August 28, 2022 1:07 pm
Another great one! But what is the name of your new book, for heaven’s sake? It would bless my heart to know it.
Bert T White - August 28, 2022 1:11 pm
You have blessed my heart
Peggy Slaton - August 28, 2022 1:40 pm
Martha Black - August 28, 2022 1:41 pm
Thank you sweetheart…… you “blessed my heart”.
Jocelyn - August 28, 2022 1:46 pm
Congrats on holding another book. Your writings bless my heart and remind me to be human.
sabriscoe - August 28, 2022 1:50 pm
You blessed my heart, and encourage me with your writing.
Anne Arthur - August 28, 2022 1:50 pm
Yes, please tell us the title of your new book so we can go shopping!
Marana Parker - August 28, 2022 1:57 pm
Can’t wait to get your new book being released in October!! I absolutely love everything you write! Please continue to bless my heart with your stories❤️
Susan Mitchell - August 28, 2022 2:20 pm
Please tell me it’s a new book!!
Beryl - August 28, 2022 2:28 pm
Congratulations Sean! You have always been worthy.
“There’s always been a rainbow hangin’ over your head.” ~ Traci Musgraves
Tom - August 28, 2022 3:07 pm
You have blessed the heart and bring on. Tears of this 76 yr young man
Suzanne - August 28, 2022 3:10 pm
CM - August 28, 2022 3:12 pm
Congratulations, again:)… and bless your heart!
Adams - August 28, 2022 3:40 pm
Sean, today’s essay – and I mean this in every possible way – blessed my heart.
Kim Janine Ligon - August 28, 2022 4:48 pm
Sean, glad to know someone as accomplished as you are still cries at holding his new book in print. I published my debut novel the 17th of this month. When I held the print book in my hands, I bawled wishing Mother and Daddy were still here to hold it too. Keep up the great work. You are a gift to me
Susie, as well - August 28, 2022 5:38 pm
The name of the book is “You Are My Sunshine: A Story of Love, Promises, and a Really Long Bike Ride.” I preordered mine from Amazon back in July.
Annd - August 28, 2022 6:01 pm
Judy🌻 - August 28, 2022 6:16 pm
Congratulations! Well done but don’t stop now.
Patricia Jones - August 28, 2022 6:35 pm
Another book to bring blessings to all that read it. Congratulations ‼️
Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - August 28, 2022 6:57 pm
Sean, you should look for a Griefshare group near you. Look at their website and give your zip code to see what is close to you. I am beginning one in Weaver. It may be able to help you. Even if you don’t want to attend, you might could write a story about it. I am proud of you with all your books.
Alice Grimes - August 28, 2022 7:15 pm
Sean I believe your Dad sees and knows what you have accomplished and that it definitely does “bless his heart “.
BB Stumbaugh - August 28, 2022 8:22 pm
Thank you for blessing our hearts…..
MAM - August 28, 2022 8:30 pm
We know that Our Father sees and knows all things that we do (good or bad!), so I’m sure, too, that our fathers and mothers, who have reaped their rewards, also look down on us and know what we are doing. I don’t know about you, but that sure makes me think about any action I’m about to do! I’ve always wanted my parents to be proud of me in a good way! And you, Sean, regularly bless our hearts! And we thank you for that!
Sister3of4 - August 28, 2022 9:43 pm
Congratulations!! I look forward to reading your new book!! 👏🏼🏆🙏🏻
pattymack43 - August 28, 2022 10:16 pm
Congratulations!! And THANK YOU for “blessing my heart”!!! Blessings!
oldandblessed - August 28, 2022 10:23 pm
And may your little cotton-picking heart continue to be blessed.😊
Cathy M - August 28, 2022 10:33 pm
I am so proud of you. You have overcome many adversities and here you are with another book . I think I miss my dad as much as you miss yours but I know with all my heart that he is with me in spirit and when I leave this earth he will wrap his arms around me. You are a survivor and that is living proof that you don’t ever give up on life. You just keep paddling and ask Jesus to sit beside you. You surely bless my heart each day❤️👏
Ingrid B Whigham - August 28, 2022 10:44 pm
Congratulations to Sean, the author! Now you’ve made me cry!
Karen - August 28, 2022 11:03 pm
I believe your dad is looking down and feeling very proud of you. You have blessed many hearts with your beautiful writings.
Judy Raines - August 28, 2022 11:25 pm
Bless your heart and you have blessed others…..mine included.
Barbara - August 29, 2022 12:16 am
Your father is beaming and approving from above. Jamie and many others have also blest your heart and will continue to do so.
Andrea Newman - August 29, 2022 12:26 am
Your writing blesses my heart. God bless you and your family.
Teresa Blankenship - August 29, 2022 1:54 am
You bless many hearts. And don’t you forget it ❤️
iwaly444 - August 29, 2022 2:01 am
Congrats on the new book!
As always a good Article.!
For a little smile, in the words of the prophet, NY Yanks, Yogi Berra to Ernest Hemmingway after meeting, So, Ernie what newspaper do you write for?.
All the very best
Kat - August 29, 2022 3:21 am
I don’t allow myself to read your column the morning. It is the last thing I read every night. That way, I go to sleep each night with my heart blessed by you. Keep up the good work!
Sandy - August 29, 2022 4:57 am
He sees you Shawn
patriciasimmonstaylor - August 29, 2022 5:38 am
Just reading your stories blesses my heart!
Cathy - August 29, 2022 12:04 pm
The book is called “You Are My Sunshine” and will be out in October.
Linda Moon - August 29, 2022 5:05 pm
I just read the title of your book from Cathy. You bless this “Moonshine” every day. I’m proud of you! So me…well, I’m just happy to BE.
Peggy M. Windham - August 29, 2022 5:52 pm
You bless hearts every day! You bless mine!💜
Nancy SandersNancy Sanders - August 29, 2022 6:55 pm
Sean, everything you write blesses my heart. Sometimes I chuckle or laugh at loud and sometimes my eyes fill and overflow down my cheeks. But you always touch me with your words. My brother took his life almost 19 years ago…on Halloween so it always hits me every year on that day and therefore, I really don’t like that holiday. He was a 20 year Army veteran, served 3 tours in Viet Nam, and I’m sure the things he saw or did haunted him all his life. He spent the last several years of his life reading the Bible from cover to cover, many times. His last words that my sister-in-law heard him say before she heard the gun shot was “God forgive me.” Having a family member commit suicide is a heavy burden. You have risen above that burden and the stories you write are a gift to so many people. Thank you, Sean.
Lynn B - August 29, 2022 8:05 pm
I love it when you talk about your daddy. You keep him alive for all of us and show us that the weakest moment of his life wasn’t who he was at all. He was overcome with fear for a moment, but he was such a great guy. How could he not be – to produce a son he would be SO very proud of?! Thank you.
Jill E. McCormick - August 30, 2022 12:13 am
Congratulations! This is a big deal! May you celebrate in all the ways that bless your heart. -j
Teresa - August 30, 2022 11:13 am
Sean, this made me cry, but I’m a girl, so I guess i don’t need the coach’s permission. My heart was blessed the day I found your blog. Can’t wait to own a copy of your book.
Gilda Morina Syverson - August 31, 2022 5:21 pm
My sister sent me this article and when I got to this paragraph, “Tonight, I promised myself I wouldn’t write something sappy. Forgive me. So far, this column has been about as sappy as a Mrs. Butterworth commercial. But I can’t control myself. There is a book in my hands. It’s not my first book. And it won’t be my last. But it feels good to be holding it nonetheless,” I started to cry. I am so glad you decided to follow your dream of being a writer.
Helen De Prima - August 31, 2022 9:44 pm
No thrill like holding that first copy in your hands.
Ed - September 7, 2022 2:40 am
Sean, you did it again. You left me in tears, wishing my dad was here. He was a WWII paratrooper, jumped on Luzon, blown out of the war by a Japanese artillery shell. Suffered a spell, recovering on a hospital ship. I miss him every day. 18 years gone. His memory is a blessing.
Thank you Sean
CHARALEEN WRIGHT - September 9, 2022 2:09 am