My sister sent me some of your writings, and I don’t mean to be a jerk, but you’re not much of a writer… Now, I’m not saying that you’re awful, but your stuff needs work.
… I have a master’s degree in English, I have written three books, and I know what it means to be a writer.
Again, I’m not trying to be cruel, I’m just offering a healthy dose of reality. Simply posting content on social media doesn’t make someone a writer.
P.S. I’m pretty sick of hearing about your dumb dog, and I’ll bet others are too. Word to the wise.
A week ago, I attended a GED graduation ceremony. I was invited by Miss Terri, who teaches the general education prep classes.
I wish you could’ve been there.
We could’ve used you. It was a small room, there were only about twenty-five in attendance. Most in the audience had just gotten off work. Some wore neckties. I didn’t.
The recipients were from different backgrounds. One man was in his seventies. You would’ve liked him. Everybody did. He cried through the whole ceremony. He clapped hard for each graduate.
He’s worked construction most of his life. He walked across the stage to receive his diploma. His smile could’ve set the woods on fire.
Another graduate was late-forties, a recovering alcoholic who almost committed suicide three years ago. He was grinning like he’d just discovered teeth. He broke down crying, too.
The word “beautiful” comes to mind.
The next graduate was a woman who’d sustained a traumatic brain injury at age seventeen. She is fifty-three. She posed for a photograph with her two sons, and well…
The reason I’m telling you this is because these people are me. I am them. We are the same.
When I was in the seventh grade my father shot himself with a hunting rifle. I didn’t attend school again until I was a grown man.
And I’ll spare you the details—I doubt they’d interest you—but let’s just say that everyone has a story.
I worked hard to get my education as an adult. I took night-classes and worked days. I took day-classes and worked nights. I ate suppers in my truck between periods. I did English homework on construction jobsites.
I have no big achievements, no letters behind my name, no master’s degree. I live in a trailer.
But that doesn’t mean I haven’t lived.
I’ve done things. And I’ve known people—special people. I’ve seen things that mean something to me.
Once, I helped deliver puppies. Once, I had macaroni and cheese and a Budweiser on top a water tower. Once, I tied a necktie on a raccoon that was named Levon.
I’ve worked on construction sites with Mexican men who cooked on the tailgates of minivans.
I’ve laid sod with former-inmates. I’ve cleaned condos with my mother. I’ve thrown the newspaper to pay the rent. I’ve watched the sun lower behind the Vulcan Statue on my birthday.
I have shaken hands with the Lady Saint of Auburn—Mo Malphrus. I have high-fived a twelve-year-old girl who was blind from birth. And on more than one occasion, I have hugged the neck of Michelle Matthews and lived to tell the story.
I have seen every episode of the Andy Griffith Show at least fifty times, maybe more.
I’ve known love.
I’ve known the love of a strong woman for fifteen years. A woman who believes that I am somebody.
But yeah, I was in my thirties when I finished my education. That’s why I’m not a great writer. Even so, on the day of my graduation, my mother told me I could be whatever I wanted to be.
I was crazy enough to believe her. And I’m glad about that because a few hours ago, before I wrote this, I hugged my mother. She held me and said, “I’m so proud of you, baby.”
Her opinion means more to me than yours. Thanks for the letter.
P.S. Leave my dog out of this.
Word to the wise.