The Damned Evening News

It’s high-school culinary teachers who give a damn. It's neighborhood barbecues. It’s animal shelters. Old folks. It's volunteer uncles who live in spare bedrooms.

Colton, Texas—they moved Holly’s mother to a nursing home. It was time.

Her mother couldn’t recognize her friends or family. She’d forgotten names. Dates. Hygiene.

They placed her in a place they could afford—which wasn’t much.

Holly asked her daughter’s boyfriend to visit the center with his guitar.

“I’d heard music could stimulate brain stuff,” she said.

It didn’t work. What happened was a group of patients in wheelchairs gathered around the boy’s singing. They made requests.

He played for several hours.

“He really got into it,” she said. “It meant so much to me.”

And when he played “You Are My Sunshine,” Holly’s mother wandered into the seating area.

The old woman sat in a chair. She sang along with the others, word for word.

When the music ended, she looked at her daughter and said, “Oh, there you are, Holly.”

“Hey Mama.”

Jacksonville, Florida—an at-risk school. He wasn’t a good high-school student. In fact, he was failing. But he liked food and cooking. His English teacher discovered this.

She bribed him.

“I told him, ‘If you study your butt off, I’ll teach you how to cook.’”


She started an after-school culinary program in a local church. She got a restaurant chef to volunteer some of his time. Six local kids signed up for class.

“It was great,” she said. “Everyone had so much fun. It kinda gave us something to look forward to.”

It gave them more than that. Today, four of those students are working in commercial kitchens.

Arthurtown, South Carolina—Jason was single. Young. A CPA. He drove a quick car, he stayed out late. But standing at his brother-in-law’s graveside changed everything.

His sister’s husband died, leaving his sister with four kids. She was a mess.

“I had a job to do,” Jason said. “I just knew it. Those kids needed somebody. My sister needed me.”

He quit his job. He moved across the country into his sister’s spare bedroom.

He cooked bacon and eggs every morning. He packed school-lunches, kissed boo-boos, read bedtime stories, and carpooled for baseball practice.

A few months ago, he walked his sister down the aisle.

“Hardest part about this is,” he said. “Not getting to see my buddies in the mornings before school. We were a family.”

I’ll just bet you were.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter what I think about anything. I’m an ordinary nobody with mediocre health insurance. I have nothing valuable to add to the commentary of the world.


I read the newspaper today. The outlook was bleak. Murders, mass-shootings, nuclear warheads, and bacteria capable of eating a person’s face off.

And the nightly-news anchor still has the audacity to wish me a good evening.

It’s too bad. Because this old world is more than explosions, cussing congressmen, and BOTOX bodies in dental-floss bathing suits.

It’s high-school culinary teachers who give a damn. It’s neighborhood barbecues. It’s animal shelters. Old folks. It’s volunteer uncles who live in spare bedrooms.

It’s guitars in rehab homes. It’s singing “You Are My Sunshine.”

It’s making someone happy, by God.

Even when skies are gray.


  1. Kelly - April 17, 2017 1:05 pm

    Once again, a message that comes just at the right time. Thank you.

  2. Naomi - April 17, 2017 1:18 pm

    Life is all about the moments! They make a difference. Between the moments, years of dedication to a cause or to a person can be daunting. Then a moment happens. After 33 years of struggle with our adopted son, a friend posted a picture of my son and his little league team on Facebook. Just to see the glee on my son’s face in that picture was definitely a “MOMENT”. Keep up the good work. It helps some of us maintain equilibrium.

  3. Susan - April 17, 2017 1:21 pm

    Great post. I keep reminding myself to be the kindness I want to see around me.

  4. Nona Fox - April 17, 2017 1:59 pm

    Thank you. That is an encouraging word.

  5. Sam Hunneman - April 17, 2017 2:27 pm

    There are days since November when I’ve held onto stories like this with both hands and 10 fingernails. Thanks for stating them so well.

  6. Jody C. - April 17, 2017 4:41 pm

    My father died in 1994 after struggling w/Alzheimer’s disease for 8! years. I wish I could have seen him get out of his VA hospital bed when he heard You are my Sunshine”

  7. Rhonda Contreras - April 17, 2017 7:08 pm

    On Easter Monday, this is what we should be hearing. Thanks, Sean!

  8. LindaD - April 17, 2017 7:18 pm

    There’s something about that little song that strikes chords in people, isn’t there? I’ve heard stories before about it reaching back and rekindling memories. I remember my children singing it when they were barely old enough to recite things. Maybe someday I’ll be one of those whose face lights up when someone sings it to me, too.

  9. Jean Silbereisen - April 17, 2017 11:33 pm

    Great story, would love to obtain emails with future stories. Thank you.

  10. Susie Munz - April 19, 2017 2:10 am

    I like all of your stories, but especially the Good ones.

  11. Sandra Lee Van Dam - April 21, 2017 10:49 pm

    thank you, Sean. Keep writing. Keep sharing.

  12. Deanna J - June 12, 2017 12:53 pm

    So heart warming! Keep it up!

  13. Cathi Russell - June 12, 2017 1:41 pm

    The weepy glees again. I love your words.

  14. Sandra - June 12, 2017 3:02 pm


  15. Sandra Simpson - June 12, 2017 3:29 pm

    Thank you!

  16. Mary Harrison - June 12, 2017 4:06 pm

    Love ❤️ your inspirational story’s

  17. Rose Parramore - June 12, 2017 6:25 pm


  18. Carol McMeans - June 12, 2017 10:44 pm

    Every time I read something that you have written, I feel just a little bit better about my world.

  19. claire - June 13, 2017 12:09 am

    My sister-in-law’s Dad sang “You are my Sunshine” to his wife as she was dying. She went peacefully……

  20. Barbara Bray - December 28, 2018 4:13 am

    ditto Carol…. just what I was thinking . Never stop writing , Sean.


Leave a Comment