...Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you wake up in the mornings and turn it on. Maybe you flip channels. Maybe you see talking heads in business suits.

I watched a fifteen-year-old boy with cerebral palsy hit a baseball. It was something else. His father pitched full-speed from the mound, just like a major-leaguer. The boy held the bat with unsteady hands.


Base hit.

The kid smacked it so hard it made the fence. His mother cheered in the bleachers. So did I.

The fifteen-year-old didn’t even run. He started to cry. So did his daddy. They held each other in the batter’s box for awhile.

“You don’t understand,” said his mother. “They’ve been working on just HOLDING a bat for years. He NEVER gets a hit.”

He did today.

Tanya—I meet her in the Walmart. She has six children with her. The oldest is pushing the cart. Two are in the basket. Three follow.

These are not her biological children.

Tanya’s been fostering for a long time. She used to do it with her husband—he died several years ago.

Her husband had been raised in the foster system. He had been passionate about fostering.

“We used to spend every dime we made on these kids,” she says. “My husband

would say, ‘If you only knew how hard it is growing up feeling like nobody wants you. I know what it’s like.’”

After his death, she carried on his tradition. And even though she’s unmarried, she welcomes new kids by the handful.

Yolanda. She is from Ecuador. She was a victim of human-trafficking. She was saved. Since then, she’s made a new life for herself. She is about to become a certified personal fitness trainer.

As part of her rehabilitation, she started spending time in gyms. She enjoyed it so much that she decided to make it her profession.

“I LOVE working out,” says Yolanda. “I take out all my angry thoughts on these machines.”

Yolanda has a boyfriend. They just got engaged last month. He is from Mexico. He is a Pentecostal preacher.

“I’m always believing,”…

“When you drive through your hometown and see banners with your son’s name on them, it changes you.”

To the man whose son has cancer. Who sat with me in the public park while we watched his boy swing on monkey bars.

The man who said:

“My son’s cancer turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to us. Made me see how good people are.

“When you drive through your hometown and see banners with your son’s name on them, it changes you.”

To John—the man who adopted five dogs. Whose wife, Mindy, was taken too early. The same man who once encouraged me to keep writing at a time when I needed encouragement.

He probably doesn't even remember that.

To Jennifer, who says most people call her, “Jellybean.”

Jellybean is epileptic. She walks to work since she can’t legally drive. She says that her past relationships haven't lasted because of her condition.

Well, she is on top of the world this week. Her boyfriend is an EMT. He knows how to deal with seizures, and isn’t afraid to help her through them.

He asked Jellybean to marry him last Tuesday at his son’s middle-school band concert.

She said


To the thirty-four-year-old man with severe autism. I’ll call him Bill. Who was abandoned by his mother. The woman dropped him at an ER and said, “I don’t care what you do with him, he’s not coming back here.”

And to the nurse who adopted Bill. Who didn’t just give him a room in her home, but signed papers to make him family.

He now refers to her as "mom.”

And to my mother. The woman who worked harder than any female I’ve ever made eye-contact with. Who didn’t just raise me, but grew up beside me.

Who endured a husband’s suicide, financial ruin, double shifts, single-parenthood, and late bills. Who survived a disease that almost ruined her.

Who still goes for morning walks with her dog, Sunny, saying prayers under her breath.

And to…

Turn on the TV. Read a paper. Another day; another dogfight between angry old men wearing Italian suits and lapel pins.

I saw you. It was at an old Piggly Wiggly. The kind with swinging doors and neon letters that don’t all light up. I watched you open the door for an old woman who used a walking cane.

You couldn’t have been older than twelve. You swung the door open, then wheeled an empty shopping buggy toward the lady.

You said, “Here you go, ma’am.”

She thanked you. You blushed. It was a fine moment.

I also saw you when you stopped traffic to help that dog. You were driving your FedEx truck, making your route. It was a mutt. Tan and white. A pup with hardly any meat on its bones.

You ran across three lanes of traffic, waving your hands at the cars.

I could read your lips. “STOP! STOP! PLEASE!” you were saying.

Three lanes of traffic rolled to a halt. Our vehicles formed a stand-still line while you coaxed a scared animal out of the center lane.

Once, I saw you help a child in the Home Depot find his mother. The boy was lost. He

walked beside you.

When you found his mother, he ran to her. It was a Hollywood style ending. You stood back several feet to take it all in. Smiling.

And, by God, I saw you.

I saw you pay for that woman’s meal in the Mexican restaurant. The waitress seemed surprised when you suggested it.

She answered, “You wanna do WHAT, sir?”

You whispered, “I wanna pay for that lady’s meal.”

Then, you pointed to a woman across the restaurant. She wore a Hardee’s uniform. She had three kids. They were loud, rowdy, sipping dangerous amounts of caffeine and carbonated sugar.

You paid, then stood to leave. You never got to see the woman’s reaction. But I did. She was shocked. It was all over her face. Before she left, she placed a tip on the table.

Everybody won that…

A few more things I love: Kathryn Tucker Windham, bottle trees, Magnolia Springs, the color yellow, anything made of oak, slow-moving trains, Hank Williams, American buffalos, and breakfast. 

My mother-in-law is watching television, sipping a milkshake. I’m sitting with her.

She’s slurping so that I can hardly hear the television.

It’s just as well. The folks on TV are hollering at each other about political issues, mass shootings, patriotism, and weather conditions. 

My mother-in-law changes the channel and slurps louder.

Different network. Different newscasters. Same five-dollar issues. She changes it again. More shouting. More shameless slurping.

She flips the channel.

The Home Shopping Network advertises commemorative American-flag lapel pins made from recycled cellphone batteries. Only $19.99. Call now.

My mother-in-law turns the television off. She slurps her milkshake so hard the ceiling is about to cave in.

“You know,” says Mother Mary—the sophisticated voice of 1958, and all-around model American. “TV sucks.”

Truer words have seldom been spoken.

Once upon a time, I enjoyed the idiot box. I don’t anymore. The faces on television talk too much about the gruesome and repulsive. They make commentaries only on things they hate.

I wish more people talked about things they loved.

Like daisies. Why aren’t folks talking about those?

Earlier today, I

pulled over to pick some. I got carried away and picked a whole armful. I wrapped the bundle of stems with duct tape and tossed the bouquet onto my dashboard.

I don’t even know who I picked them for.

You know what else I love? The late great Don Williams. I heard him singing about a woman named Amanda on the radio. I turned it up. The lyrics made me think about a woman I love.

A few more things I love: Kathryn Tucker Windham, bottle trees, Magnolia Springs, the color yellow, anything made of oak, slow-moving trains, Hank Williams, American buffalos, and breakfast.

I love the box of family photographs in my closet. Sometimes, I look at them and revisit black-and-white ancestors I never knew.

I love coffee—black and strong. Hashbrown casserole from Cracker Barrel. And my…

I’m sorry for what’s happening in the world. I’m sorry hatred gets so much camera-time. 

Newnan, Georgia—two sisters, swimming the Chattahoochee. It’s a pretty day. Alyssa Calhoun and her five-year-old sister, Kendall. They are best friends, joined at the hip.

The five-year-old drifts from shore. She can not swim against the mighty Chattahoochee. She screams.

Alyssa swims after her. They get pulled downriver. Alyssa dives beneath her sister, digs her feet in, and lifts her above her head.

When authorities find them, they are facedown in water. The youngest is alive. Alyssa Calhoun dies a hero.

She was fourteen.

Montgomery, Alabama—a teenage girl in a gas station. She places two bucks on the counter, and she is sobbing.

“I’m outta gas,” she says. “How am I gonna get home?”

The woman behind the counter comes to her. They hug. The girl presses her face into the woman’s chest.

The woman says, “Oh, honey.”

People in line pool their money to buy the girl a full tank—with change left over.

Charlotte, North Carolina—Debbie lives alone. She has no children. She is legally blind and wears thick glasses she calls “Coke-bottle lenses.”

After getting diagnosed with breast cancer, her world falls

apart. Neighbors see her come and go to treatments, riding a taxi.

She’s skin and bones.

One day, a group of neighborhood kids arrives on her porch. Boys and girls, holding platters of baked goods.

They tell her they want to do her grocery shopping, cooking, cut her lawn, dust her furniture. She agrees. They work for her. They watch television with her. They even play games and eat pizzas in her den.

One boy recalls: “We turned Miss Debbie’s into a hangout, so there’d always be people around her, keeping her smiling.”

The kids stay with her until the end.

Before Debbie passes, she remarks, “Always wanted to be a mother, those children let me kinda pretend I was.”

This morning. The first thing I see on television news is mass murder in Las Vegas.…

If I ever make it to old age, God willing, I will wear jeans, suspenders, oil my hair, and utter five-word blessings at the supper table.

Somewhere outside Smyrna, Tennessee—several elderly people in wheelchairs sit parked on the sidewalk at a restaurant. They’ve just deboarded a nursing-home bus.

A herd of nurses in purple scrubs wheel the small army into the restaurant in wagon-train fashion.

In the dining room, the old folks take up four tables. Their wheelchairs are positioned in a long row.

One of the battleworn nurses explains, “You think this is something, you shoulda seen us rolling around the damn zoo.”

When their food arrives, everyone holds hands. An old woman in a wheelchair asks a blessing in a loud voice.

She says the same five-word prayer every old timer uses at a supper table. An ancient prayer which younger generations quit using a long time ago.

“Lord, make us truly grateful.”

I catch myself smiling. If you've never seen an old woman pray, you should.

Everyone mumbles, “Amen.”

Seated on my other side is a young couple. She is pretty, with dreadlocks pulled backward.

The man with her is wearing a fire-medic uniform—radio attached to his shoulder.

The man touches the girl’s hand and I overhear

him say, “I was thinking we could go to the lake when I get time off, and finally have our honeymoon.”

“OH REALLY?” she says. “I’d LOVE that.”

Not long into their meal, his radio makes a noise.

In the back of the restaurant, there is a group of men, also wearing radios. They receive the same transmission.

The man kisses his girl. He calls his friends from the back, they leave together.

Minutes later, I hear sirens in the distance.

An elderly couple walks through the restaurant doors, holding onto one another.

She’s small, and walks with a hunch. He is wearing jeans, suspenders, and has oiled hair.

If I ever make it to old age, God willing, I will wear jeans, suspenders, oil my hair, and utter five-word blessings at the supper table.


The world has gone crazy. It’s mass hysteria. Hurricane Irma is coming, and some people are losing their cotton-picking minds. 

Pensacola, Florida—a long line of vehicles at a gas station. I am waiting behind a woman and her daughter. She holds a baby in her arm.

The gas pump is not accepting her card. She keeps trying. No luck.

There’s a man in a car behind her. A very nice, German car that costs more than a new liver.

He shouts at her. He honks. “C’mon!”

The world has gone crazy. It’s mass hysteria. Hurricane Irma is coming, and some people are losing their cotton-picking minds.

The woman hands her baby to her daughter—who looks like a fifth-grader.

The woman walks inside to see the cashier. She is gone a few moments before returning with her face in her hands. She looks like she’s about to cry.

“My wallet!” she shouts to her daughter. “I don't have it!”

Without skipping a beat, the young girl reaches into her jean pocket, and hands her mother a handful of dollars.

The lady’s dam breaks. If tears were nickels, she'd be a millionaire.

The girl gives the money to her mother with a brave face. And I can’t see

how much she gives, but it’s a wad.

More honking from Mercedes-Man. He slams his hands on his wheel.

The woman fills her car with gas. The daughter rocks the baby in her arms.

When the woman finishes, they crawl into a dilapidated Ford and drive away. Their car makes a grinding noise, like it needs a new axle. And I’m fairly certain she’s leaking oil.

Mercedes pulls in behind. He whips forward and jams his brakes. He leaps out, slams his door, and tries the pump. But something’s wrong.

He cusses, then marches inside.

He returns, accompanied by the attendant. The clerk places a yellow baggy over his gas-pump handle.

Out of service.

Cars are honking at Mister Mercedes. The man pulls into the next pump, behind a van. He waits.

When it’s…

So the news is blaring on a television in my room. It’s been playing the same angry scene for five days. An unruly crowd. Riots. Barricades, torches, and policemen bearing helmets and shields.

A nice car stalls in traffic. Horns honk. People shout. Four Mexican men leap out of a dilapidated minivan. They push the broken down vehicle from a busy intersection.

In the front seat: Jocelyn. A seventy-three-year-old woman.

When she is out of harm's way, one of the men says something in English:

“You need a ride, ma’am? We’ll take you wherever you wanna go.”

They drive her home, across town. She offers to pay for their gas. They decline. She offers to feed them. They accept.

Years later, Jocelyn dies. At her funeral, Jocelyn’s daughter sees a group of unfamiliar Mexican men.

Chase. He is middle-aged and clumsy. He has the idea to repair his own roof. He climbs on the house while his wife is away.

He loses his footing. He trips. The shrubs break his fall—and his leg.

A neighbor’s fourteen-year-old son sees the accident. The boy calls 911, then performs first-aid. The kid even rides to the hospital inside the ambulance.

When Chase awakens, there

is a boy, sitting at his bedside, mumbling a prayer.

“Called your wife,” says the kid. “I found her number in your phone.”

There’s a girl. I’ll call her Karen. As a child, she was raped and abused by her father. Karen left home when she was old enough to drive. She drove six states away and tried to forget her childhood.

And she did. One divorce and two kids later, things were looking up. She had a job managing a cellphone store, a nice apartment.

Her aunt called one day. Her father was sick. Stomach cancer was eating him from the inside out.

“Why the hell should I care?” was Karen’s response.

She didn’t sleep for a week thereafter.

Anyway, today I hope someone you love tells you how they feel about you—even if you already know it. And I double-hope they show you. No. I triple-hope it. Quadruple-hope. Times infinity.

I hope you have a good day today. I don’t mean an oh-my-God-I-won-the-lottery kind of day. That would be too much euphoria for one afternoon.

No, I hope you have a plain, old-fashioned good day.

Like when an old friend calls and you talk for three hours. Or when you hear “Always On My Mind” on the radio.

I hope you meet someone who impresses you. Like the man I met at Lowe’s yesterday.

He had no legs and one arm. He drove a motorized wheelchair. He was buying supplies to fix his bathroom sink. His young son walked beside him.

We had a conversation, waiting in line. Before I left, the man shook my hand and said, “Hey man, I hope you have a good day.”


Anyway, today I hope someone you love tells you how they feel about you—even if you already know it. And I double-hope they show you. No. I triple-hope it. Quadruple-hope. Times infinity.

May you get kissed by a dog, a kid, or anyone with white hair. I hope you kiss back.

Kisses get hard to come by once you get lines on your face.

I hope you forget about people who did you wrong. And when you try to recall painful times, I hope you can’t remember a damn one.

I hope you think about your granddaddy. Or your granny. Anyone who called you, “child,” “young’un,” or, “baby.” And may you remember what kind of simple world this place was when you were young.

I hope you feel important.

And I hope someone tells you how nice you look. It’s good to feel attractive. And, by God, you are.

I hope you eat something rich. I’m talking food your doctor warns you about. Such as: vanilla ice cream with caramel, fried chicken from a paper bucket, a Dean’s layer cake, a chili-dog with extra onions.

I hope you sit on a sofa…

...But I don't mind telling you that I don’t believe it. Not because I am an ignoramoose—at least not a full-blooded one. But because I have seen things.

Georgiana, Alabama—Kendall’s Barbecue joint is not just a barbecue joint. Inside this tin-roofed place is God’s own kitchen. The pulled pork here is nothing short of Biblical.

And today I need a little pork. I’m on my way to a memorial service.

I pull over for lunch. Large pulled pork. Extra pickles. I’m eating in my truck with windows down. It’s hot outside.

A young couple in a Taurus pulls in. Dirt on the fenders. The boy is tall and skinny. His pants are too big. She’s pregnant.

There are three kids with them—all redheads. God help those children.

The young man is covered in sweat and dust. They get their bag of food and head toward the car. He helps kids into carseats. He kisses each on the forehead.

The woman says to him, “Hurry, come quick! Feel him kick!”

He comes to her. He presses an ear to her swollen belly. His face lights up. He kisses her.

Then, they share a look.

After they leave, an older

man orders at the counter. He has white hair, overalls, sweat spots on his shirt.

When he gets his paper bag, he takes it and walks to his truck. There is a dog in his vehicle.

While the man eats in his driver’s seat, I see him through his window. His mouth is moving, and he’s smiling.

I’ll be dog if he isn’t talking to that pup.

When he finishes, he stuffs a tobacco pipe with his thumb, cracks the window, and lights it. The dog gives the man a lick on the cheek. This makes the man smile.

Which makes me smile.

Next: a heavyset man orders food. He has broad shoulders and thick arms. He is…