Family Man

He says, “I really didn't plan on doing this today. But this morning, I just realized that I love her so much, and I love her kids, too. I just want us to be a real family.”

I’m at a jewelry store to get my watch repaired. It’s a cheap watch.

The jeweler is a white-haired man with a grandaddy face. He’s staring at my watch, squinting.

“It’s Italian,” I tell him. “El Timexo.”

He says the thing needs a new battery-o.

There is a kid browsing the glass cases behind me. He’s young, skinny built. He’s wearing a neon-orange reflective vest, work boots.

He asks the girl at the counter if he can see a ring. She unlocks the case.

He looks at it, frowns, then hands it back.

He asks, “Should ALL engagement rings have diamonds?”

She tells the kid that there’s no constitutional mandate, but that it’s strongly recommended by the American Jeweler’s Association.

He asks about payment plans. She shows him a flyer and tells him about financing options.

The kid asks to see a cheaper ring.

He looks hard at it. “You sure this is the right size? It looks so big.”

“Yep. That’s a six.”

“If it’s too big, can I bring it back?”

“We can resize it.”

He takes a few heavy breaths. He sighs. He says, “I just hope she says yes. I mean, I think she will. But what if she doesn’t?”

The woman smiles. She holds up her left hand for him, showing him a small ring. Then, she tells the story that goes with it.

She was at a swimming pool. Her boyfriend showed up unannounced. He climbed the high-dive. He screamed his proposal from the top of the world.

She hollered, “Yes!”

So, he attempted a backflip. He slipped. He skinned his backside and hit his head on the springboard. He had to visit the ER. He had stitches.

Another employee joins the conversation. She’s middle-aged. She tells her own proposal tale.

Her second husband brought her to the beach one evening. There sat a table, topped in white linen and plates of blackened grouper.

He got down on a knee. They’ve been happy ever after.

The old man that’s disassembling my watch, says to the kid:

“My wife and I just celebrated thirty-two years. She’s the love of my life. Trust me, you won’t regret asking the woman you love to marry you.”

The kid removes his wallet. He pays in cash. He counts wrinkled bills on the counter.

He says, “I really didn’t plan on doing this today. But this morning, I just realized that I love her so much, and I love her kids, too. I just want us to be a real family.”

The woman puts the ring in a fancy box. The kid thanks her and says, “I’m nervous, y’all pray for me.”

Then, he crawls into a white work truck with ladders hanging on the roof-rack, and drives away.

Dear Lord:

I don’t know what you’re doing today. I know you’re probably busy keeping the world spinning. But there’s a kid out there.

You’ll recognize him. He’s the one with a cheap ring in his pocket. He’s about to lay it all on the line.

He just wants a family of his own.

Thank you in advance, sir.



  1. Tracy - May 26, 2017 11:54 am

    Love this story. I hope it had a happy ending! ?
    I look forward to starting each morning with your stories.

  2. Sheron Johnson - May 26, 2017 12:06 pm

    This made me cry.

  3. Kathy Lane - May 26, 2017 12:22 pm

    I sure wish you could do a follow up story!

  4. Dawn Todhunter - May 26, 2017 12:44 pm

    I’m full out ugly crying.

    • Linda - May 26, 2017 1:56 pm

      Me, too.

  5. Bobbie - May 26, 2017 12:48 pm

    Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! *tears*

  6. Misty Green - May 26, 2017 1:01 pm

    Dear Lord in heaven- He sure did give you a gift. Thank you for sharing it. Tears- tears as I read this.

  7. Judy Miller - May 26, 2017 1:30 pm

    I didn’t get a diamond engagement ring until I was 65. He was the love of my life and passed away 15 days before our wedding. That was 5 years ago–I still haven’t taken off that ring and I never will.

  8. Leigh Rankin - May 26, 2017 1:59 pm

    We want to know what happened!! I hope he gets his family.

  9. Mike Greene - May 26, 2017 2:06 pm

    Let’s pray for all the young guys preparing to make that commitment

  10. Jack Quanstrum - May 26, 2017 2:10 pm

    Great story. It humbled me and at the same time put a smile on my face. I pray all goes well. Keep on writing your stories keep my feet on the ground.

  11. Pat Byers - May 26, 2017 2:46 pm

    You didn’t bring me to tears ..this time. Often you do. But I sit here full of goosebumps. I never had an engagement ring. Just a simple gold band wedding ring. Think it cost $27. It was a LONG time ago. What do I wear and what have I worn since 1982? A exquisitely crafted ring of silver that my fathers brother made and wore for years. Before he died, knowing I always admired it, he took it off his tan thin sick hand and gave it to me. My husband loved him too. And cares not, that I wear my uncle’s ring.

    • CHERYL MOFFITT - May 26, 2017 3:10 pm

      Oh Sean

  12. Buck Godwin - May 26, 2017 3:26 pm


    You just called Him “Lord”.

    You DO know who he is, you talk to him all the time!

  13. Linda - May 26, 2017 4:29 pm

    This is so sweet! Made me cry!!

  14. Rev. Steve Baccus - May 26, 2017 5:37 pm

    Doggone it, Sean. You did it again. I just messed up another clean hankey.

  15. Wendy Boston - May 26, 2017 8:07 pm

    This story is an example of what I love about seeing my Sean of The South email among all my others…I look forward to opening it and seeing who touched your life and I’m always thankful that you so awesomely touch our lives by writing and sharing stories that make the world seem just a little bit better! As always, You Rock!

  16. Sharon - May 26, 2017 8:47 pm

    Thank you. (I think I say this a lot when I read your work.) This made me smile.

  17. Sandi - May 26, 2017 10:13 pm

    Sean, will you kindly go back to that jewelry store in a few days and ask if the young man returned the ring or had it re-sized? We readers hope he did NOT. Every tender story like this one deserves a happily-ever-after ending.

  18. Jenny Young - May 29, 2017 3:01 am

    I was really enjoying this until the line ‘old man’ married 32 yrs….I’ve been married 30 yrs & am far from being old. Maybe he got married when he was 50?

  19. Ben smith - July 6, 2017 11:12 am

    Cool God Bless you. That’s a fact. Sometimes it’s a little hard but if you love hard and work hard. God has a way of blessings use all.That’s a fact.

  20. GiJo - July 20, 2017 12:19 pm

    This was just shared with my daughter and son-in-love as their anniversary ‘card’. Just perfect.

  21. Deanna J - July 20, 2017 12:21 pm

    Love is great! For him to love her kids is the best!

  22. Scott Gardner - July 20, 2017 1:09 pm


  23. Mary Beth - July 20, 2017 2:28 pm

    Mine told me from the onset of our meeting that he was looking for a wife & if I liked him & he liked me, well we would see about getting married. That was 19 years ago & we are married. I guess we liked each other a lot. Not romantic by any stretch of the imagination, but precious from a man of few words. Thank you for always finding the key to unlock the doors of our hearts! I pray for many years of bliss for this young man & his bride.

  24. Diane C. - July 21, 2017 3:19 am

    For 31 years I was married to the most amazing man I had ever met. He treated my two children as his own and changed as many diapers as I did. For a man to have never been married or have children of his own, to put me on a pedestal and truly treat my children as his own still amazes me. I lost him in 2015 to cancer and I miss him terribly. I’m still in awe that God blessed me with such an incredible man, and I am grateful for that blessing every day!

    • Sue - August 31, 2017 4:27 am

      You are in my prayers tonight and in the days ahead. And yes, you had the blessing of a lifetime with your man!

  25. Annette Bailey - July 21, 2017 3:43 pm

    My make-up always seems to be running down my face as I read one of your stories Sean. I pray the kid gets the family he wants so badly. I met my husband when he was working as a sub in a pharmacy. I was in the boutique section. He had sold his drugstore because he was accepted into medical school. The owner told us about his darkroom where he took pics of each high school football game. Neither one of us believed him but checked it out and it was dark! I felt hands sliding around my waist and I broke my ruler on his arm for being so bold! He waited until I turned 20 before he asked me out which was two weeks later. We dated for two years. He bought his store back and recently retired after working 40 yrs. because of early onset of Parkinson’s. We’ve been married for 38 yrs. I pray we are together many more. I can’t wait to share your story with my family and friends on FB. Thank you Sean……..

    • Jack Quanstrum - July 21, 2017 9:43 pm

      Touching story Annette. Life is very unpredictable. Sometimes good and sometimes not so good but I see the good in your story. Thank you for sharing it.


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