Cracker Barrel, 8:17 P.M.—it’s busy tonight. There’s a boy in a wheelchair at the table beside me. His father is spoonfeeding him cooked apples.
When the boy’s sister says something funny, the boy claps and laughs.
His father wipes his face with a rag and says, “You’re my special boy.” Then, he kisses his forehead.
A nearby girl wanders toward the boy. She is four, maybe. Her hair is in dreadlocks. She stares at him with her hand in her mouth.
“Is he okay?” she asks.
The boy leans and gives a big “HELLO!” There are apple bits on his chin.
The girl gives a smile brighter than a Christmas tree. “HI THERE!” she says in return. Then, she skips off.
Three tables from the boy is an old man. He is wearing a ball cap, Velcro shoes. He’s sitting at a two-top. He orders chicken-fried steak and potatoes. He has no cellphone to occupy his attention. No reading material. He sits.
He and I share a waitress. Her name is Blanche—it’s embroidered on her apron. Whenever he speaks to her, he holds her hand. Something you don’t see much.
He has a voice that sounds genteel enough to predate the War Between the States. It’s a wonder he’s all alone.
Behind him is a table of Mexican workers—men, women, and kids. They sit covered in paint and grit. They speak rapid Spanish. Lots of laughing.
One Mexican boy crawls into his mother’s lap. She strokes his silk hair with her paint-spotted hand, saying, “Cariño mio,” over and over.
And though I don’t know Spanish, I imagine this, more or less, means: “You’re my special boy.”
To their left: a teenage couple. He weighs a buck ten, she is a foot taller than him. They hold hands when they walk out. They kiss. They look drunk on each other. What a feeling.
When I pay my tab, Brooke is my cashier. She takes my breath away.
I haven’t seen Brooke since she was a ten-year-old in Vacation Bible School class. She’s in her mid twenties now. She has two kids. She’s a fine young woman.
God, where has time gone?
I ask about her mother. While we chat, the boy in the wheelchair is leaving the restaurant. His father wheels him out the door.
The boy throws his hands and says, “BYE EVERYONE!”
I wave goodbye. Most folks in the gift shop do the same. There’s not a single frown among us. How could there be.
Because it’s all around us—whatever you call it. I suppose it’s always here, hanging in the air like potpourri my mother would make on the stovetop.
It saves lives. It changes people. And you won’t find it on a television, smartphone, or newsfeed.
Sometimes I pay attention to it and it makes me feel strong. Other times, I don’t.
Tonight I did.
There goes one special boy.
Anne - March 18, 2017 12:00 pm
The world looks better through your eyes. There are good people all around us. I am going to try to be more observant. Thank you!
Linda Akers - May 19, 2017 3:46 pm
So very aptly put.
Cherryl Shiver - March 18, 2017 12:16 pm
It’s a thing called LOVE. You have it, and Praise be so do I,….now it’s our job to share it. You, my dear man are doing your job quite well.
I believe the Lord gives us all a special job here on this earth. You are doing yours just fine and dandy.
Thank you for taking time to share your stories with all of us.
Gerald - May 19, 2017 1:12 pm
IF we are still here our job (mission) on Earth isn’t over. I do like the quote about “the way we live our lives may be the only Bible some folks ever read.”
Ramona Cobb - March 18, 2017 12:37 pm
Excellent! I can’t go so far as to say your writing has changed my life, but it’s definitely changed my mornings❤☕️
Judy - March 18, 2017 1:07 pm
The good part of a day’s experiences. It’s there. If we just notice it.
Pamela Smith - March 18, 2017 1:13 pm
Joann Wilson - March 18, 2017 2:19 pm
I could feel the empathy, sweetness and love that was shared in a few precious minutes between the people in that room. Great day made happier because of those minutes.
Art Bone - March 18, 2017 2:27 pm
Thank you so much for your posts. I lived in the south most of my life and your writing captures not only what is best about the south but what is best about all human beings. A lot of times it’s hard to remember we’re more alike than different.
Sam Hunneman - March 18, 2017 2:35 pm
That’s it. You’re officially on my list of blessings to count.
James Godwin - March 18, 2017 3:32 pm
I think that most of us are guilty of not paying attention. If we took the time to notice what’s going on around us, our world would be so much more meaningful…
Esteban Rudman - March 18, 2017 4:36 pm
Nailed it again, Sean. Happiness is a choice. Or it is what we feel when we make good choices, including about what we pay attention to.
Sherry - March 19, 2017 2:39 am
A beautiful reminder that awesome people are all around us….goodness is right before us..we need to just take the time to look and share our interest in others and reap a double reward of ? Thank you Sean❤
sherry k. - March 20, 2017 11:26 pm
of such as those are the kingdom of heaven made. you were noticing that shine.
Lilli Ann Snow - May 3, 2017 11:43 am
Lilli Ann Snow - May 3, 2017 11:44 am
Eyes to see.
Ears to listen.
Heart to hold.
Lips to speak.
Linda - May 19, 2017 1:48 pm
Please, God, open my eyes to see the same wonderful things around me that Sean does…
Rev. Steve Baccus - May 19, 2017 3:27 pm
That’s the good stuff, Sean.
Buck Godwin - May 19, 2017 3:43 pm
I started to say “I wish I had been in that place and at that time” but then I realized that stories like that abound, and through your stories I am learning more and more about the sweetness of the human spirit. Thanks for the lessons learned, my special boy.
Charaleen Wright - April 19, 2019 4:34 am
Kathy C - May 19, 2017 4:58 pm
You make me remember that what I choose to notice and react to can be up to me. Starting the day with your words and perspective is to start with awareness of others and the blessings around us. YOU and your work are a blessing. Thank you.
Deanna J - May 19, 2017 6:16 pm
That IS the good stuff! Thanks
Wayne J - May 19, 2017 9:20 pm
This sermon on our humanity is one that should be shared by all in the hope that all who read it will realize its truth.
Trish - May 20, 2017 2:51 am