Dear Sean

...I got into the habit of visiting nursing homes for stories. I’ve visited multitudes of them. I’ve met some stone-tough people there. I remember one in particular. I’ll call him Tom.


I’m crying while writing this in my car. My doctor just told me I have a health issue that could kill me, he actually said those words. …I have kids and a wife, and I’m scared as hell. Tell me a story, man, I need cheering up.



When I finished school, I decided to try my hand at writing professionally. I got laughed out of a newsroom.

An editor told me to “Go find some kick-ass stories, then maybe we’ll talk.”

Of course, I’m not a “kick-ass” type of guy. My expertise is more in the half-assed arena.

Anyway, I got into the habit of visiting nursing homes for stories. I’ve visited multitudes of them. I’ve met some stone-tough people there.

I remember one in particular. I’ll call him Tom.

In his young days, he was a high-school coach in a one-horse town that had a water tower and a party line.

He’d never had a winning football team. In fact, some seasons he had to shut down the football program—there weren’t enough players.

One summer, doctors diagnosed him with cancer. He got so depressed that he stayed indoors and gave up living. He resigned before school started.

One day, he laid in bed, feeling sorry for himself. He heard heavy footsteps on his porch. All day, the footsteps. One pair after another.

He kept his curtains drawn.

When the footsteps finally quit, he peeked through his window. There were so many bouquets and thank-you cards on his porch that people started leaving flowers on the sidewalk.

On the first day of school, a friend called to tell Tom that thirty-some boys signed up for the football team—more applicants than the school had ever seen.

The young players, however, said they would not play unless Tom came back to work.

Thus, the coach donned his whistle. He ran practices, speed drills, and two-a-days. He taught smooth-faced boys how to be somebodies.

“Best time of my life,” said Tom. “Even though I was going through treatment at the time.”

His team won games—not many—but they raked enough victories to climb higher than they ever had.

And on his last game of the season, Tom was weak, pale, twenty pounds lighter than before. The boys gathered for a pre-game talk.

“Guys,” said Coach Tom. “I ain’t got nothing to say that you don’t already know. You’ve taught me more than I coulda ever taught you. It’s been a joy knowing you.”

I’ll never forget Tom.

As it happens, cancer didn’t kill him. He lived a long, full life, until his mid-eighties. The room he died in was peppered with photos of young men in jerseys.

Boys he claimed saved his life.

I don’t know why bad things happen. I don’t know why the world hits hard enough to knock your helmet off. And I don’t care.

Because I know miracles happen. So help me, I do. I’ve seen them. Little ones. Big ones. I’ve shaken their hands in hospitals, drug rehabs, halfway houses, high schools, and nursing homes.

You are a hero, friend.

You just don’t know it yet.


  1. Connie - September 5, 2017 12:40 pm

    I cried. Again. Thank you Sean for your messages of hope. I hope “worried” takes some comfort. Sending a prayer for him and his family.

  2. Cathi Russell - September 5, 2017 1:09 pm

    God bless you, Sean, for the word pictures you paint so beautifully.

  3. Melodie - September 5, 2017 1:33 pm

    I, too, have witnessed many Blessings and Miracles, Dear Worried Man. They do happen. I am sorry to hear your news, right along with you. I’ve heard that news, before. PLEASE, stay strong and keep your Faith, whatever that might be in your life, at this time. You said you need cheering up, well, here ya go. I’m on the sidelines cheering and rooting for you. Something tells me, you have a lot of fans you might not even be aware of. You are a winner.

  4. Beth Thrift - September 5, 2017 1:34 pm

    Another keeper, Sean…this one will surely see lots of shares as folks I know or meet face life’s fears. Thank you.

  5. Summer - September 5, 2017 1:38 pm

    No telling how many folks this gave the hope to get out of bed. God bless you, Sean.

  6. Judy - September 5, 2017 1:44 pm

    Beautiful. You know the right words … and how to share them. Thank you.

  7. Gary - September 5, 2017 2:12 pm

    As my East Tennessee Grandmother would say ” That was a GOODEN”

  8. Kathy Daum - September 5, 2017 2:13 pm

    Yes. Life is messy and tough. But so many people are beacons to keep going and doing good. So we try to be a beacon, too.

  9. Bev - September 5, 2017 2:14 pm

    Just love you, Sean. You are the best!

  10. Trudy :) - September 5, 2017 2:55 pm

    Dear Worried Man,
    If you are reading these comments, you are discovering complete strangers are rooting for you and some are praying, too. We are given 1440 minutes each day. Do you think it would be a firm lesson in subtraction if you spent a lot of those minutes worrying? Worrying takes away the rejoicing time. I know you have strong concerns, and rightfully so. God’s got this, if you ask Him to cover all the bases, yard lines, and goal posts.
    Thank you, Sean, for giving us another smile, tear, and goosebumps of another ‘s situation to pray about.
    Smiles and blessings, Trudy

  11. Janet Mary Lee - September 5, 2017 3:42 pm

    Prayers for you and your family, Worried Man. Miracles happen, they do. And none of us know how much time we really have left. Not a one of us. So make each moment count. Find joy in your family and in the day. Big things, little things, they all are important. You have many people pulling for you! And once again, thank you Sean for your words, which you so seamlessly weave together.

  12. Pamela McEachern - September 5, 2017 4:25 pm

    Dear Sean, I am saying prayers of healing for the everyman you stand for, We need your positive strenght. When I have felt hopeless I am glad I have found these stories you bless us with. They all are what we each need to find our strenghts, and I believe we are the strongest when we serve our fellow man. Blessings

  13. Bruce Stover - September 5, 2017 5:11 pm

    Your style of writing is so wonderful, and intense. You’re my favorite writer…

  14. Lisa/EZBeingWeezie - September 5, 2017 5:46 pm

    One day I’ll tell you my story; not today, but someday. It’s a comedy/tragedy/miracle depending on the day or individual perspective. It’s just real life.

    Today I want to tell that you’re a good man. I use ‘good’ because I know you’ve seen enough and lived enough to be humble. You’d not accept a higher superlative, though most days you earn it by touching the lives of your readers. I’m a firm believer that those little ripples of kindness echo longer than we’ll ever know.
    Today I just want to tell you thank you.

    “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
    St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

  15. Lisa in SC - September 5, 2017 5:59 pm

    Dear sweet “Worried Man”,
    You will receive many eloquent quotes of inspiration and determination; gifts of heartfelt prayers and stories of impossible miracles. My sincerest wish is that they comfort and sustain you.

    I want to tell you that you are NOT alone. You are now blanketed with with the love ❤️ of many. We are with you.

  16. Linda - September 5, 2017 8:26 pm

    Sean God has given you such a beautiful and wonderful gift. I humbly thank you for sharing it with us. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers Worried Man

  17. Diane Enloe - September 5, 2017 8:32 pm

    You are amazing….thank you~

  18. Don Ramsden - September 5, 2017 8:33 pm

    Sean….the Holy Spirit lives and moves in your head and hands….truly a gift. God Bless. I am a cancer survivor of a normally unsurvivable form of cancer (small round blue cell carcinoma of the sinus—SNUC). Your words are priceless to me and my wife.

  19. Martha Tubb - September 5, 2017 8:51 pm


  20. Pat McRee - September 5, 2017 10:51 pm

    Dear Worried Man,
    The first time I had one foot in the grave was 1994. I thought I would die in about 2 months because my mother’s cancer doctor told her that at diagnosis and she did. Since I’m writing this, you know I didn’t die then, nor the other four times I’ve had cancer. I have it again now but I’m getting better with each treatment and may just make it back into what they call NED (No Evidence of Disease). I also didn’t die in a terrible wreck that should have taken my life. I’m here. You are too. God knew how many days I had before I ever got here. He knows how many you have too. Don’t let the words of a doctor or anyone else keep you from living every one of them well. I’ve gotten too old to die young and lived to know a beautiful granddaughter! You can do this!!

    • Pamela McEachern - September 6, 2017 6:04 pm

      You too are an inspiration and I believe very wise. We all have our own destiny and I think survival must be your’s. You give us hope, GOD works in mysterious ways and everyone can have a miracle. Thank you for sharing

  21. Marlene Gaither - September 6, 2017 12:08 am

    Your article gave me chills. Miracles do indeed happen! I pray one for the Worried Man and his family.

  22. Susan from GA - September 6, 2017 1:26 am

    Sean, I have yet to read one of your stories that does not touch my heart. God has blessed you with such a gift.

  23. Tish Gressang - September 11, 2017 9:41 pm

    the stories you share make us think… and inspire so many – thanks, over and over

  24. annie - September 26, 2017 1:33 am

    Thank you

  25. Linda O'Leary Young - October 20, 2017 8:07 am

    Best definition of inspire I ever heard- ” to breathe courage into someone”. That’s what you do Sean, you inspire and you do it well.

  26. Kimberly - October 20, 2017 11:56 am

    Dear Worried,
    You don’t have to go through this alone. Look around and I’m sure you’ll see cheerleaders all around you. Hugs and prayers for you. Sean, what another wonderful post. You and Mr. Worried are both blessings to so many.

  27. Mary Anne - October 21, 2017 1:56 pm

    Dear Worried Man, you are in my thoughts and prayers even though I don’t know you.

    I’m not as good of a writer as Sean but I do have a story for you. To give you hope.

    In 1976 my doctor said – in the same sentence – “you are pregnant AND you have cancer.” That’s a HIT let me tell ya. Long story short. I lived. My baby lived. She gave birth to two spectacular grandchildren that keep me happy. Today I get to see the little girl play soccer and the little boy play football. I’ll get to see those grandchildren run and play with their teammates and I’ll get hugs. Life is grand.

    Enjoy each day of life. None of us know what comes tomorrow. But please try to worry less and hug your family more.

    God Bless you and your family. He sure blessed mine.

  28. unkle - October 24, 2017 3:04 am

    Well now keep in mind that they call doctors practicing Physicians. There is a reason for this… sometimes The Great Physician is working on the case with out our asking. BELIEVE that’s all we can do. uk


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