The man looks at the boy. He hugs the boy and messes up the kid’s hair. I’m no Spanish major, but I know what the word “gracias,” means.

A woman pushes her cart through a grocery store. Her son is with her. He holds the cart, following behind her. He is small, lean, and his eyelids are closed tight.

He is blind. He lets go of the cart and soon he is lost. His mother is a few feet ahead of him. She stops. She watches.

“Mom?” he says.

“I’m over here,” she says. “Follow my voice.”

The child wanders toward her with unsure steps, arms outstretched. He finds her. She hugs him.

“That was good,” she says. “You’re so good at finding me.”

She kisses him on the mouth. She stares at his clenched eyes. “I love you so much, Peter Pumpkin Eater. Don’t ever, ever, ever forget that.”

He nods. Peter won’t forget.

A woman drives an old model Nissan. She has two dogs in her vehicle. Labradors, I would guess. She is in the parking lot, loading groceries.

A man sees her. He offers to help load groceries for her. Something you don’t see much anymore.

“Pretty dogs,” he remarks.

She’s smiling at him. He’s grinning back at her. She hands him a business card. He says he’s going to call her sometime.

And you know the tune: first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage. And then comes health insurance premiums stiff enough to squeeze blood from a block of granite.

A gas station. A man with a little girl on his shoulders leaves the convenience store. The little girl is eating a candy bar. She gives him a bite. He takes a bite, then hands it back.

I can’t hear their full conversation, but I do hear: “Love you, Danica.”

“Love you, Dad.”

Same gas station. Two Hispanic men near a pump. One is old. One is a teenager. They are speaking rapid Spanish, laughing.

The older man goes to slide his card at the pump. The young man stops him and says:

“No, papá, permíteme.” Then, the teenager reaches into his own wallet, uses his card, and pays for gas.

The man looks at the boy. He hugs the boy and messes up the kid’s hair. I’m no Spanish major, but I know what the word “gracias,” means.

Now I’m in heavy traffic. Ahead of me, I see a car filled with older women. There is nothing but white hair in the vehicle. Their stereo is booming. I recognize the rhythm coming from the vehicle. It is the music of Elvis Presley. “Don’t Be Cruel” is the song.

The women are dancing, moving their upper bodies. One woman is dancing the Swim. Another is doing the Twist hard enough to break her titanium hip. The woman driving is laughing.

I also pass an older truck—the kind with a single bench seat. I see the silhouette of a girl leaning on the shoulder of a young man. He is king of the world with her beside him. She is his his queen. And if there’s anything happier than young love, I don’t know what it is.

I am in my neighborhood now. A child is on the side of the road, with a busted bike. I know this kid, he plays with my dogs sometimes. He waves at me.

I stop. I roll my window down. I ask what’s wrong.

“My chain slipped off,” he says. “Don’t know what to do. Ain’t never fixed a bike before.”

I throw my truck into park. As it happens, I have extensive experience with bike chains. I’m able to fix his problem with needle nose pliers and zero cuss words.

He smiles at me like I really did something—which I did not.

“Thanks,” he shouts. Then he rides away.

I’m at home now. I’m staring at two dogs that are running in my front yard. My wife is throwing a tennis ball. They run after it. She chases them.

It seems like only yesterday we got married. It seems like only yesterday we adopted these dogs. I hope my family knows how much I love them.

I don’t know what the purpose of life is. I don’t know why some suffer. I don’t know why things can’t be perfect. I don’t know why people hurt each other. I don’t know why you can’t seem to get ahead of your bills. I don’t know why you wake up feeling tired. I don’t know why friends aren’t always loyal.

But I know that life is rich, and brilliant, and it is a gift. And I know that I love you, Peter Pumpkin Eater.

Don’t ever, ever forget that.

25 comments

  1. Betty F. - October 6, 2018 5:23 am

    Sweet!

    Reply
  2. Judy Kate - October 6, 2018 5:34 am

    Gracias, Sean. Gracias. ❤️

    Reply
  3. Freida - October 6, 2018 10:08 am

    And I love you, Sean Dietrich. Thank you for doing what you do.

    Reply
  4. Edna B. - October 6, 2018 10:21 am

    And I love how you are able to see the good and the beauty that is everywhere and in everyone. You brighten my day Sean. Thank you. Have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  5. Nancy Thomaston Rogers - October 6, 2018 11:04 am

    😍

    Reply
  6. Dianne Rathje - October 6, 2018 11:29 am

    Just a few minutes ago I sent a comment about your yesterday’s VET. I hope you rec’d it as it’s regarding a book you may want to write about Iowa’s FREEDOM ROCK artist. Please confirm that you rec’d it. Thank you

    Reply
  7. GaryD - October 6, 2018 11:54 am

    I don’t know how you manage to meet so many people to write about, but I’m glad you do. Your stories and a hot cup of coffee are a great way to start each day. Thanks.

    Reply
  8. Susan Swiderski - October 6, 2018 12:02 pm

    Please… never stop sharing your perspective with us. Your voice matters. It matters a lot. Thank you.

    Reply
  9. bobbie mertes - October 6, 2018 12:08 pm

    I don’t know much about this old world either, but I do know it’s a better place with you in it Sean. Thank you.

    Reply
  10. Jack Quanstrum - October 6, 2018 12:30 pm

    🙂

    Reply
  11. Connie Havard Ryland - October 6, 2018 12:33 pm

    Beautiful observations. It’s hard sometimes to see the glory of life when everything seems to be falling apart around you, but right now my puppies are asleep in my lap, my kids just walked out the door to go to work, with “love you Mom” the last words they throw back at me. I’m so blessed.

    Reply
  12. Joy - October 6, 2018 12:36 pm

    We love you too Sean…please don’t every forget that! What a wonderful post. You make the people you write about come to life…and to think they are actually the people you come in contact with! You have a wonderful talent, NO you have a marvelous gift!, please don’t every stop writing you posts!

    Reply
  13. Brenda J Horn - October 6, 2018 12:39 pm

    Thank you so much especially today for the wonderful reminder of the good that is around us every day

    Reply
  14. Patricia A Schmaltz - October 6, 2018 1:01 pm

    I needed this today. Thank you Sean.

    Reply
  15. Glenda - October 6, 2018 1:18 pm

    YEP, you nailed it — again.

    Reply
  16. Kim - October 6, 2018 1:35 pm

    We are all so thankful that you have the gift of gratitude—it enriches all of us who read your words.

    Reply
  17. Carol - October 6, 2018 1:36 pm

    I want you to know that Beleive it or not!!
    I feel your Love ❤️ and it makes me Happy and I hope to pass it on like you do.
    Your the best PETE PUMPKIN EATER!!
    ❤️ LOVE YA!!

    Reply
  18. Laura Snyder - October 6, 2018 1:45 pm

    Wow, wow, wow. I am so glad that Emily Freeman introduced me to your writing. She shared a link for “Good” in her “One Last Thing” email this morning and now I’m sitting here drinking my coffee with tears in my eyes. Way to make me stop and think about the goodness of the world after what’s been a crappy week at work and home.

    Reply
    • everydaylifesongs - October 6, 2018 1:52 pm

      Me too! I clicked on Emily’s link Oman hour ago and I haven’t left this place. 🙂 Now I just need my coffee!

      Reply
  19. Glenda Harbin - October 6, 2018 1:52 pm

    AMEN!

    Reply
  20. that's jack - October 6, 2018 2:45 pm

    I am amazed at your observations. I have a friend, Don, who is just as observant, but isn’t as articulate, he is a quiet one but he SEES!

    Reply
  21. John Langston - October 6, 2018 6:06 pm

    Thanks Sean for your great stories and posts. Keep them coming.

    Reply
  22. Shelton Armour - October 6, 2018 7:16 pm

    Thanks for the great post, Sean. Love of family and neighbor is so important. I need reminders how important that love is…thanks, again.

    Reply
  23. perry5360 - October 6, 2018 9:33 pm

    I have those days too. Life is a river, sometimes you swim, sometimes you grab a branch and hold on and just watch it pass you by.

    Reply
  24. Gaynell Lumsden - October 6, 2018 11:12 pm

    And I LOVE you Sean of the South!

    Reply

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