I want to go around reminding teenagers how important they are. I want to listen to the jokes old men tell when their wives aren’t around.

I’d like to make my mama proud. That’s one of my main goals in this world. If I’ve made her proud, well, then I’ve really done something.

My mother, you see, is the kind of woman who taught me how to be nice, and how to have manners.

Long ago, she would make me sit with my cousin, Myrtle, at covered dish socials, so Myrtle wouldn’t be sitting alone. Mama would say things like: “Be polite, and make sure you ask your cousin how her baton twirling is coming along.”

Admittedly, Myrtle was about as interesting as watching ditchwater evaporate. But like I said, I want my mama to be proud.

Maybe I should back up and tell you where all this is coming from.

Earlier this week, I spent some time with people who were—how do I put this— not very nice. Now, they weren’t MEAN people, per se, but you don’t have to be “mean” to be un-nice.

I hope I am never an un-nice person. What would Mama think?

Mama is a woman who says things like: “Don’t talk about yourself too much, it’s like passing gas in an elevator; people will smile, but they don’t mean it.

And: “Be a good listener, your ears will never get you in trouble.”

I don’t aspire to much in this life, but I know that I want to be the kind of man who listens.

Also, I want to be the kind of man who dogs follow for no reason. I want to be the guy who does magic tricks for toddlers.

I want to go around reminding teenagers how important they are. I want to listen to the jokes old men tell when their wives aren’t around.

I want to hear long stories on porches, and I want to be the first to respond: “Well, I Suwannee.”

A good Suwannee is hard to find.

I want the “little guys” to be famous. I want the overlooked to be looked at. I want to clap for the kid who dreams of singing on the Opry stage one day—like Mama clapped for me. I’ve never been on the Opry stage, and never will, either. But Mama really believed I could have been.

I want to believe in people like she does. I want to watch sunsets with friends and convince them that they are the most SPECIALEST people in the world. And I want to use words like “specialest,” even though that word is English blasphemy.

I want cheap beer in the bottle. I don’t need a New York strip, just give me a hamburger and onion rings as big as hula hoops. Then, I want you to know that you can hug me whenever you want and get a hug in return.

A good hug is harder to find than a good Suwannee.

And if I live long enough to see my own white hair, I want to be a man who is proud of people who don’t have someone to be proud of them.

I want my friends to succeed and surpass me. I want to be the one cheering for them in the bleachers. I want my funeral to be filled with people who say things like, “Sean Dietrich, wasn’t he a mess?”

And I want you to know you are magnificent.

Everyone and anyone. Landscapers, meter-readers, garbage men, abused spouses, ex-convicts, divorcees, jewelry artists, single mothers, lonely fathers, Mexican immigrants, nurses, attorneys, Waffle House waitresses, concrete layers, Baptists, insurance salesmen.

I hope I am the sort of guy who is kind.

But most of all, I hope to make my mother proud.


  1. Susan Hammett Poole - April 2, 2018 5:46 am

    Methinks your Mama’s buttons are poppin’ right about now ’cause she’s so proud of you, her #1 son! There’s a lot of the rest of us readers who are pleased as punch to know you through your words. God continue to bless you, Sean Dietrich.

    • Pat - April 2, 2018 2:12 pm

      Wow Susan you and I must have like minds…as I was scrolling down to the comments and was posing my comment, the FIRST WORD was to be methinks! So totally agree with your comment!

  2. Beth Reed - April 2, 2018 7:04 am

    Aww Sean, your mother is proud of you. All mother’s worth their salt are proud of their sons and daughters.
    At times we become a but of an exasperation, a nut crabby and cranky but that has nothing to do with not being a proud mama.
    Try as we may, we just don’t want our children to hurt, inside or out. We tell our stories in hopes that they don’t make the same mistakes as we did as parents. We hope to raise little boys to be men who are kind, respectful, and yes kind to others. But even if you’re crabby, cranky and rude, deep inside is a manager who is still as proud of you as the first time she held you in her arms.
    I know that your mama is one proud mama and you have to know that you make her proud all of the time and not just some of the time.
    I know because I am the proud mama of 3 boys. Imperfect boys but pretty darn proud anyway.

  3. Beth Reed - April 2, 2018 7:09 am

    I hope that you are reading past my mistakes. I hate auto correct on my phone but read between the lines of this one and add in the important words, like mother for management…. And all others. Sorry for the mistakes. Why can’t we not edit our replies????

    • Janice Barfield - April 3, 2018 4:01 pm

      Beth Reed, I don’t think that Sean cares too much about “editing.” I know I don’t. As far as making mistakes.. welcome to the real world! You’re in good company.

  4. Sherry - April 2, 2018 9:42 am

    I’m sure she’s proud of you, Sean!

  5. Cathi - April 2, 2018 10:52 am

    Sean, believe me when I tell you, you make your Mama proud. I Swanee, you’re a genuwine (spelling on purpose!) treasure! ❤

  6. Jeffrey D Pylant - April 2, 2018 10:53 am

    I fear there’s a missing word here! “I don’t aspire to much in this life, but I know that I to be the kind of man who listens.”

    • Vickie Harville - April 2, 2018 10:21 pm

      I don’t understand. There is no word missing in Sean’s story, but one missing in your statement. What am I missing? Have a great day!

      • Dawn - April 4, 2018 10:13 pm

        He probably meant, “but I know that I want to be the kind of man who listens.”

  7. Dawn Stanford - April 2, 2018 10:54 am

    What is poor, dear Cousin Myrtle thinking now?

  8. candyalso - April 2, 2018 10:57 am

    Trust me, she is!

  9. Paul David White - April 2, 2018 11:13 am

    I sure am glad a good friend recommended Sean of the South to me. “I Suwannee” it is a great way to start my morning. Right after a Chapter of New Testament and a hot tea.

  10. Dianne - April 2, 2018 11:34 am

    My husband is a big believer in giving hugs……………..he says that everyone needs and wants to be hugged. I’m sure your mama is very proud of you, Sean.

  11. Jo Ann - April 2, 2018 12:12 pm

    Sean, I’m sure your mother is very proud. Thanks for being the man who listens & cheers for people otherwise ignored or unseen. Thank you.

  12. Susan - April 2, 2018 12:20 pm

    Me too, Sean. Me too

  13. Martha Owens - April 2, 2018 12:36 pm

    If only more people in this world would be kind and give hugs! Think how proud every mother would be! I, too, read your messages every day, Sean. Thank you!

  14. Joy Luke - April 2, 2018 12:40 pm

    Sean, not only is your mama proud of you, but I just sent this post to remind my son how proud I am of him. What a beautiful way to start my day. I start my morning…every morning….with you and my coffee. You are a joy.

  15. Tana Branch - April 2, 2018 1:26 pm

    Sean, you are a mess already, but a very nice mess! If we ever meet face to face, I will hug you.

  16. Shirley Whisnant - April 2, 2018 1:38 pm

    If I were your mother, and with being a “senior citizen” I could be your mother, you would be my shining light. I do enjoy reading your writings each morning. They are uplifting to my usual boring days. And yes, she would be proud of you. And I am proud you decided to develop your writing skills.

  17. Connie - April 2, 2018 1:46 pm

    Oh honey, your momma is so very proud of you. I would love to have the honor of meeting her, because I know her heart sings when she thinks about you. I know this because you are a special man. One who is nice to all people. One who gives hugs to the people who come hear him speak. One who listens. And I know it because I am a momma of a special man, who teaches music to young people and who sings and should be on Broadway. Or at least the Opry. Love and hugs. I know I say that pretty much every day. I mean it every time.

  18. Nix LaVerdi - April 2, 2018 1:54 pm

    You are the most ‘wonderfuliest’ story tellers/writers in this world. “You don’t have to be mean to be un-nice” I was always searching for this sentence in my mind. I am sure your mama is proud of you. How could she not be. I know we are proud of you. Your stories uplift me, everyday. They raise my spirits, and remind me to live lightly. Thank you Sean for living in this world. You make it a better place. Sincerely, Nix

  19. Teri Beck-Grimes - April 2, 2018 2:58 pm

    You always make the start of my day special. Never stop writing about the kindness and goodness of people. You make all of us proud – not just your mama…..

  20. Edna B. - April 2, 2018 3:16 pm

    Hugs are such wonderful things. I’m sending you a really big hug. Thank you for starting my days with such awesome, inspiring stories. Hugs, Edna B.

  21. Jones - April 2, 2018 3:22 pm

    She is proud as are your loyal readers. And, you are a “mess.””?

  22. David Stuart Doom - April 2, 2018 4:25 pm

    Amen, there is no valid reason to be rude.

  23. Andy Gartman - April 2, 2018 4:59 pm

    You’re certainly a mess, I Suwannee! Hope you and Jamie had a great Easter and that you were able to spend it in Brewton. Oh, and I hope you know a few Methodists you think are magnificent, too.
    Your preacher buddy.

  24. Ronda - April 2, 2018 7:29 pm

    gleaming with pride!

  25. Bonnie Stiles - April 2, 2018 9:30 pm

    What is a Suwannee?

  26. Barbara Riley Rabig Williams - April 2, 2018 10:38 pm

    I want you to know that you and your stories are my daily hug. Thank you Sean and God Bless you !!

  27. Lauri Reynolds - April 3, 2018 4:31 am

    I have no doubt your mother very proud.

  28. Dianne Correll - April 3, 2018 6:02 am

    I am proud of my Son and You!! Keep on writing!

  29. Grace - April 3, 2018 11:30 am

    Loved this one!! We said, “I’ll swan.” Eastern Shore of MD!

  30. Holly D - April 3, 2018 1:07 pm

    I’m sure she is VERY proud of you Sean. And by the way, how IS Myrtle’s baton twirling coming?

  31. muthahun - April 3, 2018 2:47 pm

    Hope those Opry folks come to realize that you SO belong on their stage! Chatting, singing, sharing… you’d do them proud, too.

  32. suewatson12014 - April 3, 2018 2:48 pm

    A hot mess!

  33. John Delaney - April 3, 2018 7:57 pm

    Sean, a little tough on Myrtle!!!!!

  34. Sherry Siercks - June 8, 2018 10:53 am

    I had the privilege of meeting Sean and his lovely wife, Jamie, in Millbrook, AL. He’s the real deal, and his Mama definitely has reason to be proud!!

  35. Shelley - June 8, 2018 11:38 am

    Safe to say you’re already quite a mess, and I mean that in the best way possible, of course!

  36. Steve W. - November 8, 2019 1:42 pm

    Doing magic for kids, adults even. In all your travels I’m sure you see a magic store now & then. Buy yourself a good quality rubber thumb. Just about every magician has one in their pocket. You hide things in it. Dollar bills, silk scarves. Make those things disappear & reappear at will. There’s also lots of books on using them. You’ll thank me one day.


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