Georgiana Exit

And I still don't. But sometimes I wonder at the meanness in the world, and I wonder at the lost folks who keep feeding it. I won't lie, it makes me sad. Because such things are a waste of precious calendar days.

I wrecked my truck one mile outside Georgiana, Alabama. Long ago. The only thing I remember is the smack of metal. My driver’s window busted into ice.

I thought I was dead.

I had the life-flashing-before-my-eyes experience. I saw myself in diapers. Middle school. I saw my wife, Jamie, in the passenger seat.

She screamed, “I love you, Sean!” while my truck rolled.

They would’ve been her final words.

I was too shell-shocked to repeat those words back to her with what might’ve been my last lungful. I regret that.

She helped me climb out of the vehicle. We sat on the side of the highway. Jamie tore a piece from her shirt and dabbed blood from my face. She cried so hard she gagged.

I tried to say something, but my voice didn’t work.

The paramedics arrived.

“Sir, can you tell me your name?” asked a large blue uniform.

I couldn’t.

“Your NAME, sir.”

I was too confused. All I said was, “My truck.”

“Yeah,” he said. “That ain’t a truck anymore. You’re one lucky sumbitch, sir.”

It was an understatement.

After I regained my senses, the EMT’s told me that earlier the same morning—only miles up the interstate—another accident had happened.

A semi truck jack-knifed. An economy car skidded beneath the trailer. The top of the car got ripped off—the family inside was ruined.

“It was a traveling gospel group,” said the paramedic. “They were leaving a church gig. They were high-schoolers.”

I’ll never forget hearing about those kids. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen my share of old-fashioned gospel groups.

Take, for instance, the time I drove six hours to North Alabama, just to watch three brothers sing. I used to lay concrete with them before they started traveling the circuit. The eldest, Aaron, was a good man—built like a Philco refrigerator.

I remember when a contractor tried to cheat Aaron and his brothers out of a week’s pay. Aaron should’ve pinched that mean man’s head off. Instead, he reached in his wallet and gave the man a hundred-dollar bill.

The man said, “What the hell’s this?”

Aaron said, “A parting gift.” Then he walked.

I asked Aaron why he did that. He said, “Anyone who takes my shirt can have my jacket, too.”

I had no idea what he meant.

And I still don’t. But sometimes I wonder at the meanness in the world, and I wonder at the lost folks who keep feeding it. I won’t lie, it makes me sad. Because such things are a waste of precious calendar days.

Anyway, I guess what I’m getting at is: the paramedic was right about me. I’m lucky. Damn lucky. Because I’m here. Alive. And not some flowery cross near Exit 114.

And I’ll say one more thing, something I wish I’d said long ago.

I love you, too, Jamie Dietrich.


  1. sharon - January 21, 2017 7:31 pm

    Very moving!!!

  2. Maureen - January 21, 2017 8:29 pm

    you’ve put things into perspective for me this morning – and I was worried by Rod scraping paint off the car along the side of the garage… Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Carol DeLater - January 21, 2017 11:52 pm

    You didn’t have to say it, she knew it. I know what Aaron meant. The only time I have ever seen anyone do what Aaron did was something my Dad (Uncle) did. I understood it back then. My Dad was the best man I ever knew. Better than my husband….and that is saying A WHOLE LOT.
    xx, Carol

  4. Danny C Hall - March 19, 2017 2:09 am

    Interesting story, professional looking page , check out my Original short story’s sometime .

  5. Karlene Garner Conley - October 24, 2017 11:13 am

    You write the best stories!! I grew up as a little Girl one exit up from that Georgians exit,114. It is the 113 Grace /Garland exit. God Bless you Sean,keep writing, you are amazing!! Karlene Garner Conley

    • Janet Mary Lee - November 10, 2017 5:42 pm

      It wasn’t your time, you had to much to do.And you are doing it well. The important thing now is to keep doing it, and keep saying “I love you, Jamie! ” till your dying breath!! You are both treasures!

  6. Annette H. Bailey - December 1, 2017 6:26 pm

    A very moving story, sir. I was riveted to it because I grew up in Georgiana and know that exit well. My sister and her family live a few miles from that exit and my oldest brother and his family lives a few miles further than her. Georgiana use to be such a bustling town with competing dry good stores. I worked in one. Two competing pharmacies…I worked in one of them too on week days after LBW Jr. College and that’s where I met my husband. He had just sold his drugstore because he’d been accepted into medical school. But after knowing me for four months, he changed his mind and bought back his store. He had the old timey store with the soda fountain and all. But I wish you could have known that Georgiana…we were such a pleasant town with so many jobs busting at the seams, a beautiful bank, three grocery stores….I miss it too. I married the pharmacist two yrs.,later and moved to Andalusia! Loved your story as always Sean. You bring up so many memories for me and many others! Keep them coming. It makes many of us sit and think…and remember!

  7. Charaleen Wright - March 21, 2019 5:57 am


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