Georgiana, Alabama—Kendall’s Barbecue joint is not just a barbecue joint. Inside this tin-roofed place is God’s own kitchen. The pulled pork here is nothing short of Biblical.
And today I need a little pork. I’m on my way to a memorial service.
I pull over for lunch. Large pulled pork. Extra pickles. I’m eating in my truck with windows down. It’s hot outside.
A young couple in a Taurus pulls in. Dirt on the fenders. The boy is tall and skinny. His pants are too big. She’s pregnant.
There are three kids with them—all redheads. God help those children.
The young man is covered in sweat and dust. They get their bag of food and head toward the car. He helps kids into carseats. He kisses each on the forehead.
The woman says to him, “Hurry, come quick! Feel him kick!”
He comes to her. He presses an ear to her swollen belly. His face lights up. He kisses her.
Then, they share a look.
After they leave, an older man orders at the counter. He has white hair, overalls, sweat spots on his shirt.
When he gets his paper bag, he takes it and walks to his truck. There is a dog in his vehicle.
While the man eats in his driver’s seat, I see him through his window. His mouth is moving, and he’s smiling.
I’ll be dog if he isn’t talking to that pup.
When he finishes, he stuffs a tobacco pipe with his thumb, cracks the window, and lights it. The dog gives the man a lick on the cheek. This makes the man smile.
Which makes me smile.
Next: a heavyset man orders food. He has broad shoulders and thick arms. He is with an elderly woman who uses a cane.
He orders. She sits in the shade.
“Mama,” he says to her “You want tea?”
He helps her to a picnic table. She sits beside him.
“Napkins,” she says. “Need me some napkins.”
“And more sauce.”
“I’m running outta tea.”
“I need to use the bathroom.”
He’s a good man.
I fire up my truck and let the AC run. I am covered in a thin layer of Alabamian humidity. The cold air feels good. I’ve got more interstate driving left to do.
I’ve heard people say this world is in the outhouse. The talking heads on television, for instance, claim civilization is in big trouble.
Maybe we are. What do I know.
But I don’t mind telling you that I don’t believe it. Not because I am an ignoramoose—at least not a full-blooded one. But because I have seen things.
I’ve seen grown men caring for elderly mamas. I’ve seen seven-year-old boys deliver eulogies. I’ve seen a homeless man toss money into an offering plate. I’ve seen dogs kiss old men who smoke pipes.
Maybe the world is going to hell. Maybe mankind is in the biggest crisis of all time. Maybe the suits on TV are right. Maybe the end awaits.
But I wish you could’ve seen that kid’s face when he listened to that girl’s stomach.
He didn’t look too worried.
Connie - July 28, 2017 1:03 pm
I love your messages of hope. I want to share them with as many people as I can. Hope you don’t mind.
Steve Welch - July 28, 2017 1:26 pm
I agree. You have a way of making me feel better about tomorrow. Thank you Sean.
Dan Wise - July 28, 2017 1:26 pm
My brother and I were both born with flaming red hair. This was particularly interesting in that no other relatives on either side of our families were blessed with red hair. Dad enjoyed taking us out together with him wherever he went. He would refer to us as his two Durocs. When asked about the lineage of red hair in our family tree, his typical reply was that we did have a rural US Mail carrier during those years that had red hair!….
Leigh - July 28, 2017 3:43 pm
Ha! Not everyone knows the Duroc reference! Lololol
Bruce C - September 14, 2017 1:36 pm
LOL indeed … I couldn’t figure out what drywall had to do with it, until I googled duroc, without a k. Too funny.
Catherine - July 28, 2017 1:27 pm
There are good people who still believe life is good. Thank you for sharing some of them with us.
Marty from Alabama - July 28, 2017 1:31 pm
Boy, Sean, how you make me love life. Maybe in the big cities the people think we are headed out, but no one, except One, knows when. I prefer to live today, love the Lord and try to do some good along the way. That boy with three here and one on the way makes me know all is well. And any young man that sees to his Mama ain’t the least bit bad. And if you talk to your dog and he returns it with a slurp across the face, what better day is there.
See you on the morrow, Sean.
Leia Lona - July 28, 2017 1:48 pm
Your goodness shines through, thanks Sean.
Scott Caples - July 28, 2017 1:54 pm
J.E. - July 28, 2017 1:55 pm
If he can, I sure hope God is rewarding you with what’s best. Your story-telling does good things for this world. You’re helping people. Thank you for that.
Melodie - July 28, 2017 2:23 pm
I’m sorry you had to attend a memorial service. I’m pretty sure that pulled pork sammich, helped.
You had me, and a smile, when Mama needed some more iced tea, napkins, and a trip to the bathroom. That could have been my mom, on any given day, when she was still with us. We called her pockets, napkin holders. Lord knows, she always had to use the bathroom, and was happy when she actually ‘made it,’ without incident. 😉
Thank you, Sean, for a beautiful start to my day.
Donna Holifield - July 28, 2017 2:32 pm
Mary - July 28, 2017 2:43 pm
It’s hard to imagine a world as incongruent as the one with Donald Trump, ISIS and the good things you write about every day. Two new leaves were added to my family tree this month. I admit, I questioned why anyone would bring new life into the hateful place the “talking heads” describe. Then I held Teddy. A sheen of red hair across the top of his head, long skinny fingers that may one day play the fiddle or repair heart valves or fly to mars. As I rocked him, I felt the world around me soften. His heartbeat and mine somehow found the same rhythm. Tears dripped from my eyelashes. And I knew. In than moment I knew. Even as awful and crazy as this global-warmed and politically damaged rock we live on is, God believes there is hope. So he gives us babies and those sunsets you write about, and pulled pork and blogs like this one.
Camille Atkins - July 28, 2017 3:08 pm
If only everyone saw what you see, Sean.
Pat - July 28, 2017 3:15 pm
Makes me think of a Sunday morning in church and a dear friend of mine whose daughter who lives thousands of miles away, was visiting him. My friend had cancer and was taking chemo treatments and was very weak. When we were all asked to stand for the hymn, all did except my friend. When his daughter saw that he was sitting, she then sat down also…
A small act, really small, but it spoke volumes to me. I shall never forget it!
Kim McKinley - July 28, 2017 3:34 pm
Love your stories sir!
Kim Pearson - July 28, 2017 3:42 pm
Ok, yesterday I’m browsing on a buy/sell/trade Facebook page for our county here in south Alabama. Some man posts that he and his wife and autistic 5 year old son are homeless. He wants information on where he can find a shelter that won’t split them up and how to go about getting his child enrolled in school since he has no address. He has a job, but the wife and son spend a lot of their day in the car. As you can imagine, people have all sorts of helpful information to share. Then low and behold an angel says that she is 30 minutes away but will be there as soon as she can to take them to Walmart to get supplies and non perishables. In the mean time someone has stopped by (they were parked at a gas station) and filled up their car and given them some cash. So to all the nay-sayers, just get out there and help somebody. It’ll make your world a little brighter.
Johnny Johnson - July 28, 2017 3:45 pm
You always make my day better. Thank you for sharing your gift.
Laura Fryburg - July 28, 2017 3:48 pm
You are Good too. Yes the world is difficult. Sometimes you have to look real hard to see even the least little bit of anything that even looks close to good and then you see it. The goodness makes you smile and you know you’re gonna be alright for even just seconds.
I think that when you see it you see the man upstairs smiling at us.
Marisa Franca @ All Our Way - July 28, 2017 3:50 pm
I believe the news and all those prognosticators are making us jaded! We’re killing the climate and the climate is killing us. Heck, the weather people can’t predict what’s going to happen tomorrow, how are they going to predict 20 years from now. I love how you make me stop and think about today. Appreciate it. Embrace it. Have a great weekend.
Susan Whitfield - July 28, 2017 4:12 pm
I very much like and enjoy your stories every morning. No matter how my day began I then have a smile on my face.
Norma Williams - July 28, 2017 4:27 pm
You are blessed, I am blessed to read you each day. These you write about are the people who,
“Shall inherit the Kingdom Of God”. There is a sermon in your message daily. Preach on Brother!!
Jacque - July 28, 2017 4:28 pm
You’ve inspired me to start paying more attention to the people around me, seeing the details of their appearance and interactions.
Jacque - July 28, 2017 4:29 pm
Made me think of a story I want to write.
Sam Hunneman - July 28, 2017 5:24 pm
Ah, a breath of fresh air laden with BBQ smoke. Thanks, Sean.
Judy Buck - July 28, 2017 6:53 pm
Haven’t read a bad one yet, you’re special!
Virginia - July 29, 2017 12:16 am
You’re wrong on the best bar-b-que in Alabama. I am sure it is the kind that was made for the school horse show and fund raising at Orrville High School, Orrville, Ala.
And there is not one good bar-b-cue in all of central Florida. Sonny’s is probably the closest to ours but not the same.
Norma Williams - July 29, 2017 11:53 pm
I never met a bad bar-b-que. Everyone in the south knows how to make good bar-b-que.
Anna Levata - July 29, 2017 2:59 am
This reminded me of Dothan – where I spent my final two years of high school. There, we were taught to notice and take care of others if they needed help. I wonder if the homeroom teachers still have the kids pull a small piece of paper out of a bowl at the end of the school year. Oh, its only for the sophomore to junior and junior to senior summer assignments. One by one, we pull our slip of paper and written there is the name of our volunteer summer service location. My friend – the captain of the basketball team will be working at one of the old folks homes. He groans. This pick and groan goes on as each pulls – this one will be making sandwiches and serving at the shelter, this one will be helping at the clinic. Another friend will be picking up litter on the highway. She groans- its 104 degrees on the side of the road in summer and the dirt and sun will ruin her beautiful thick blond hair! But she then switches on that 2500 watt smile and this future Miss Alabama, who will represent us well in the Miss USA pageant a few years later, says that at least she can practice her singing out there! I draw the school where the (back in the day, these were the terms) retarded and mongoloid children stay. I don’t even groan. I’m terrified! I’ve always been afraid of those children! But I must go, I have no choice, no swapping allowed. How silly I was. After the first summer, I know I was foolish to fear these beautiful children with challenges. They are happy! They are smiling! It takes me the entire summer to teach a little girl how to sweep the entire floor. And the look of pride on her face as she shows off to her mother! I’ve learned the greatest lessons of my life in ten short weeks. And courage. And patience. And management skills. How to organize. And service. Do you know that ALL of us didn’t need to pull the next summer? We volunteered to go back to the places we worked the year before. Yes, we were lucky because Panama City Beach was our playground! Not the one you know today, the one of very few motels. The one of windswept dunes, bonfires on the sand, and torquise waters. The one that we stayed back when the turtles came in because it was their turn and a cross in the sand that we put there simply meant don’t dig here. But we were REALLY lucky to have teachers that taught us the world was not only about us and the only way to have self esteem is to do something to earn it.
Debbie Smith - July 29, 2017 11:14 am
It is all in our perspective! I love your vision!?
mariam Stephens - July 29, 2017 2:04 pm
“What the world needs now is Sean Sweet Sean-that’s what there’s just too little of” etc etc. wish I could create the musical notes to add to this comment but?? anyone who remembers that song can sing along as I did yesterday ! Just gettin’ around to posting a comment. You are so heartfelt Sean. Thank you for your daily uplifts!
Deborah Bundy - July 29, 2017 3:15 pm
Great observations on American rural life. Thanks.
Janet Mary Lee - July 29, 2017 8:23 pm
Dang- now I have the worst taste for BBQ!!
Help when needed folks, and preach on Sean!!
You are good for the soul!!!
Joey Sestili - August 17, 2017 3:50 am
This is one of my favorites. Thanks Sean.
Mary Schroeder - September 14, 2017 2:01 pm
You take seemingly ordinary people and seemingly ordinary moments and show the world just how truely extraordinary they actually are. Thank you.
Annette H. Bailey - September 14, 2017 7:29 pm
Wonderful, heartfelt story Sean. Btw…Kendal was my boyfriend in the third grade. We held hands when went to play outside. It all so innocent. And yes, his BBQ place is very successful in Georgiana. I grew up in Georgiana and married a guy from Andalusia. Georgiana use to be such a busy, happy town with two of everything in it. I met my husband in one of the drugstores he was subbing in and then he built his Mom and Pop store in Andalusia. I miss Georgiana and when I go, I have to have BBQ. I haven’t seen Kendal in many years but he sure was a cute little third grader. He even gave me a peck on my hand. He was a suave kind of guy who wore overalls occasionally! Lol