One day, a maintenance man arrived to fix a damaged, leaky ceiling in the boy’s bedroom. He was an older man. The kind of man who couldn’t be quiet even if his life depended on it. A happy fella who talked too much and laughed at his own jokes.

His older brother sang to him. Every night before bed. That might sound strange to you. But it was what they did before bed. Singing.

They lived in a foster home. His brother was more than a brother. He was mother, father, friend, guardian, bunkmate.


His brother helped him dress for school, tied his shoes, and taught him to stand up for himself on a playground.

And it was his brother who kept the memories of their mother alive. He talked about the way she used to read stories, make sugar cookies, eat too much ketchup on fries.

His brother was hit by a car while walking home from school. The funeral was small. Only a few social workers, and friends.

The boy was in shock. He quit speaking altogether. He quit caring. His foster parents didn’t know how to reach him, so they sent him to another facility.

He was the youngest in the new place, and found it hard to fit in with the others. He spent time alone.

He looked out his window, remembering the sound of his brother’s singing voice.

One day, a maintenance man arrived to fix a damaged, leaky ceiling in the boy’s bedroom. He was an older man. The kind of man who couldn’t be quiet even if his life depended on it. A happy fella who talked too much and laughed at his own jokes.

The boy liked him. They made fast friends.

For a full day, the man stood on a ladder replacing sections of damaged drywall, chatting up a blue streak.

The boy started talking, too. And once the child started, he didn’t stop. He talked about football heroes, favorite movies, monsters, dinosaurs, fast cars, fire trucks.

About his late brother.

The old man just listened. He listened so intently that his one-day ceiling repair job took three days.

He let the boy help him work. The kid tossed him hammers, drills, and buckets of drywall mud. The boy even helped sand the ceiling. It was the first time anyone had seen the kid so alive.

When the ceiling was finished, the man bid the boy goodbye. He shook the boy’s hand and rubbed the boy’s hair.

He folded his ladder and gathered his tools. The boy watched the truck leave the driveway, and it was loneliness again.

The following week brought long, sad days in his room. Meals without speaking. Recesses without playing. Late nights, humming himself to sleep.

The boy missed his mother. His brother. He missed belonging to someone.

One morning, there was a knock on the boy’s bedroom door. It was the maintenance man again.

Only he wasn’t there to work. He was wearing a necktie and jacket, he had his wife with him.

They discussed things. Important things. The man asked the boy to come live with him. The boy agreed.

Then, the man signed a stack of paperwork.

It took ten minutes for the boy to collect his things into a suitcase. It took one week for the boy to settle into his new life.

It took two weeks to start calling the old man “Daddy.”


  1. Lisa Perkins - May 27, 2018 5:39 am

    That warmed my heart. Nice hearing a happy ending for the boy. ❤️

  2. Beth Reed - May 27, 2018 6:41 am

    A tragic story with a bittersweet ending. Thanks for writing such a heart jerking story Sean.
    It only takes one person to make a difference in some ones life.
    It’s very hard to lose a person that you love and to lose your brother too has to be crushing. I am so glad that he found someone who cared.

  3. Kathy - May 27, 2018 11:23 am


  4. Camille - May 27, 2018 11:30 am


  5. Sandra Smith - May 27, 2018 12:20 pm

    Angels among us !

  6. Carla Dillenburg - May 27, 2018 12:37 pm

    Beautiful. Thank you.

  7. Edna B. - May 27, 2018 12:45 pm

    And this is how we do it. One smile. One hand, One person at a time. And we can change al person’s whole life. Awesome story, Sean. You have a blessed day, hugs, Edna B.

  8. Pam - May 27, 2018 1:08 pm


  9. Jack Darnell - May 27, 2018 1:12 pm


  10. Charlu Kent - May 27, 2018 1:55 pm

    If we could all take one lonely child one lonely Pup one frightened Purr one sweet older Pony n one wiser older person there wouldn’t be anyone left who was lost would there??❤️?

  11. Lee W. - May 27, 2018 3:07 pm

    The boy talked. The man listened. God smiled.

    • Jess from Athens, - December 31, 2018 7:45 pm


  12. BJean Morris - May 27, 2018 3:48 pm

    I am enjoying these stories immensely!! Thank u Jim Finlayson for sharing!!

  13. Dianne - May 27, 2018 4:54 pm

    Another of your stories that absolutely made my day!! Thank you for sharing!!

  14. Pat - May 27, 2018 4:58 pm

    You always bring a warmth to my heart! A great story…

  15. Jack Quanstrum - May 27, 2018 7:33 pm

    Beautiful story! Thanks!

  16. Edy F Holmes - May 27, 2018 8:12 pm

    I appreciate your writing style as well as the stories you choose to write. It is encouraging to learn about the many good and decent people who live around us and do what is right because it is right even when no one is watching.

  17. Dell - May 28, 2018 12:44 am


  18. Pat Bice - May 28, 2018 2:31 am

    Love your stories, look forward to receiving them everyday!!! Thank you.

  19. Jody - May 28, 2018 2:53 am

    Thanks for this wonderful story. ♥️

  20. Carl Wagner - May 28, 2018 2:58 pm

    What’s gotten into you? The last few days have left me speechless. Your life must be Good for you to produce such writing, because such writing can only come out of Good.

  21. PatSee Jones - May 28, 2018 6:53 pm

    I am wondering if that “Master” English teacher is looking for WELL or GOOD in THIS GOOD GOOD (gooder than snuff and not near as messy) STORY!!!!!

    If that English teacher ends up in a nursing home or assisted-living, I am wondering if that teacher will say to her caregiver >>> That was a GOOD job or WELL job you did in cleaning my (fill in the blank).

    I wonder if English teacher with “Master Degree” realizes Sean of the South readers do NOT care for her WELL held nose???? With all the rain we’ve had in the south, she’d be in a heap of trouble….ain’t that a GOOD shame!!!????

  22. Anna - May 29, 2018 8:52 am

    Touch my heart. The love of man kind.

  23. Tawanah Bagwell - May 30, 2018 4:18 am

    I wish this happened more often. I am a retired social worker and I so wish that could have happened to so many children that I placed in facilities.

  24. Jennifer Tran-Reno - June 2, 2018 3:26 pm

    The world could use a few more old maintenance men! Beautifully written Sean♥️?

  25. Curt - June 2, 2018 5:10 pm

    Sean, if you’re ever in Baldwin County, I’d love for you to come by Youth-Reach in Summerdale and share some positivity and hope with the young guys we have here. They’d appreciate it, and so would I.


Leave a Comment