I saw him across the crowded restaurant with his elderly parents. They didn’t look like they’d aged a bit. But he did. His face was lean, his skin was wrinkled, he was gaunt. And he still had his trademark sense of humor.

I told him I hardly recognized him.

“Yeah,” he said, “it’s this new diet I’m on, it’s called being sick, the weight just falls off.”

This is not his best joke, I’m not sure whether I should laugh.

Then he gave me the real story. It’s a long one, I don’t have room to tell it all. He became very ill with an autoimmune disease. Doctors said he was dying. His parents were braced for the worst. His mother and father became his caregivers.

His parents tell me that for two years, they did a lot of talking to the sky, asking for help.

Doctors still can’t explain how he was cured. Maybe it was the treatment. Maybe it was something else. They aren’t sure. All anyone knows is that one day he woke up better. No traces of illness are left.

“Now all I have to do is gain weight,” he tells me.

I have another friend I wanted to tell you about. I grew up with him. We once went to Mardi Gras together when we were young men—which is another long story that I don’t have time for. Let’s just say that I almost ended up as a permanent smear on a New Orleans sidewalk.

A few years ago my friend had the worst year of his life. His marriage sort of fell apart. His wife left him and took their son with her. Next he lost his business, then his money. He became suicidal.

One night, while asleep on his brother’s sofa-sleeper he had decided that he was going to end it all on the following day. He had even worked out how he would do it.

He says he whispered to the ceiling, “You’re the only one who can stop me, if you give a damn about me, you will.”

The next morning, he was awoken by the sound of a car in the driveway. It was his wife and son. She had driven three hundred miles overnight on a whim. She couldn’t explain why, but she wanted to patch things up. They are together today.

He’s never told anyone what I just told you. So try to keep that to yourself if you don’t mind.

Here’s another. This morning I got an email from a gal who told me that all her life she wanted to play music. But you know how life goes. You don’t always get everything you want.

She married, had two kids, there was no time for music. Instead she worked a job that she hated and found herself in charge of the soccer carpool. She was falling apart inside.

Until one fateful week.

She got a call. A complete stranger offered her the lead role in a local acoustic folk band. She was so excited that she practiced for two weeks beforehand.

On the night of the performance her husband and children were sitting in the front row eating onion rings. She sang her heart out and received a five-person standing ovation. Three people were immediate relatives. Two were cousins.

After a few gigs, a man from a nearby private school called her and told her that he had seen her perform. He said the school he worked for had just lost their music teacher. He asked if she would apply to teach music.

She is happy to report that she has been a music teacher for almost a year now, and her school’s Christmas program was a glorious train wreck. She still sings with the folk band sometimes.

Let’s see, what else?

Oh, I almost forgot. I got a letter in the mail from a seventy-one-year-old woman in North Texas. The letter said that her dog recently died. A yellow Lab named Duke.

Duke was born in a shelter. She adopted him and loved him for six years until he got hit by a car.

A few weeks after his death, she got a call from the same shelter. The shelter said that a man had dropped off a dog because he couldn’t care for it anymore due to his job. The shelter was asking her to adopt it.

“No thanks,” she told them, “I just lost a dog, and I’m not ready for another.”

“Well, that’s why we’re calling you,” they told her. “This is Duke’s brother, from the same litter, six years ago. He’s an identical yellow Lab.”

That was all she needed to hear. Even though it was evening, she drove clear across town to the shelter, still wearing her ratty pajamas. Also at the time, she says—and this was actually written in her letter—that she wasn’t even wearing a bra. Older women can be a little nuts.

She burst into the shelter, “flopping and free,” she points out, and many young men had to divert their eyes.

The dog was the spitting image of Duke. She took him home. His new name is Luke, in case you’re curious. Though, if it had been me, I would have named him “Of Earl.” But that’s beside the point. Speaking of points, you were probably wondering if there was a point to this column, there is:

Don’t give up. Not yet.

Help is on the way.

47 comments

  1. Sharon Brock - January 30, 2020 7:42 am

    I had written the note to my family, cleaned out my barracks room, and was walking down the hallway to the water fountain with a 200 pill bottle of Tylenol when the phone rang. Being a properly raised southern girl, I stopped long enough to answer the phone. My friend was vaccuming when she had a strong urge to call me. “Are you okay?” I burst in to tears, she drove over, took me to her quarters, and poured me a Tom Collins. That was 45 years ago. Thank you GOD for loving me when I couldn’t love myself.

    Reply
  2. Meredith Smith - January 30, 2020 8:12 am

    Dear Sean, my mom spent her life taking care of babies as a NICU nurse. Now long retired, she is diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. I have been talking to the sky quite a bit, asking for a miracle. Maybe you can add my story to your list of Good someday.

    Reply
  3. Mary Berryman - January 30, 2020 10:52 am

    It’s always darkest before the dawn.

    Reply
  4. Jan - January 30, 2020 11:24 am

    Amen and Amen!!!

    Reply
  5. Jan - January 30, 2020 11:27 am

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Reply
  6. Ann - January 30, 2020 11:43 am

    This is very clear…thank you❤️🙏🏻

    Reply
  7. Diana Green - January 30, 2020 12:18 pm

    All of your columns are great, but your “Good” ones are my favorite. This is one of those that is worth saving to read again . . . and again. Thanks for what you do – and what you do is shine a light in what can be a very dark world.

    Reply
  8. Lloyd - January 30, 2020 12:51 pm

    Sure do love to see the Good!

    Reply
  9. Beverley Phillips - January 30, 2020 12:55 pm

    Sean, this is one of your best!

    Reply
  10. Karen - January 30, 2020 12:58 pm

    I didn’t think I had time to read your column this morning, but I did it anyway. I’m glad I did.

    Reply
  11. Derril - January 30, 2020 12:59 pm

    Hi Sean… I’ve never left a comment before, but I’ve really enjoyed your unique perspective on life over the last couple of years. Today, however, is different. My wife and I have had the most difficult time over the last 7 months we’ve ever faced during our 40 years of marriage. We’ve had personal health issues, family and close friend deaths, financial stress, and starting on Christmas Eve, our son was admitted to the hospital with a serious infection. After 20 days in the hospital, 2 surgeries and 9 procedures to change out wound vacs, we felt like we couldn’t take any more. Last night my wife and I looked at each other and just broke down and cried. The stress had taken its toll. But, after a rough night last night, I woke up this morning to find your post in my email. I read it. Then read it again. Sometimes God lets us know He’s still there in ways we never expect. After reading the last words of your post, “Don’t give up. Not yet. Help is on the way”, I just broke out in a wide smile and shed a few tears. It was the first time I’ve felt like smiling in a very long time. I want to thank you for being a willing instrument through which God can let us know that we’ll be okay, things are going to get better, so don’t give up!

    Reply
  12. Terri - January 30, 2020 1:05 pm

    Praying for your son and his complete recovery. God bless you.

    Reply
  13. Melanie - January 30, 2020 1:21 pm

    Sean this is straight to the soul. Thank you. ❤️ from a nutty older woman

    Reply
  14. Bobbie Edwards - January 30, 2020 1:27 pm

    AMEN, FROM ANOTHER NUTTY OLD WOMAN🙋❤️

    Reply
  15. LeAnne Martin - January 30, 2020 1:28 pm

    I love this, Sean! You are so good at sharing stories of hope. Thank you!

    Reply
  16. Margaret Angell - January 30, 2020 1:38 pm

    Sean, your last sentence is the name of a song done by Doyle Lawson and Quick Silver. If you haven’t heard it, listen to it on You Tube; you will love it! ❤️

    Reply
  17. Janice Greenwood - January 30, 2020 1:49 pm

    I really needed this today. My sister is having a biopsy so I’m praying we can add her to your list in the future. Thank you for making me smile, cry, laugh, hopeful, and thankful every day with your stories.

    Reply
  18. Nancy Parker - January 30, 2020 2:31 pm

    Sean, thank you. You may have saved some lives today. People who were just on the edge of giving up.

    Reply
  19. Janie's Jottings - January 30, 2020 2:37 pm

    Just what I needed this morning Sean! Perfect post for tugging at the old heart strings today. Don’t ever stop writing Man, you were born to do what you do. Keep ‘em coming!

    Reply
  20. Jalane - January 30, 2020 2:39 pm

    What a great article. God definitely works!

    Reply
  21. Beth - January 30, 2020 2:48 pm

    Thanks Sean! Reading all the comments, it is truly touching how God shines through your writings! ✝️ To Derril, so thankful you and your wife have the Lord to lean on during all your unexpected and difficult times. I am and will keep you all in prayer. 🙇🏻‍♀️ I want to share some scripture verses: Psalms 27:1, Psalms 138:7&8, Colossians 1:11&12, Philippians 4:4,6&13. It is very rewarding, and uplifting knowing there are praying people everywhere! We are living in dark days, so be that Lighthouse ✨ God bless you all ✝️

    Reply
  22. Cindy - January 30, 2020 2:50 pm

    Once again, you wrote a blog that spoke straight to my heart EXACTLY when I needed it! I call this a God Tap…a tap on my shoulder letting me know He’s got this. My 9&1/2 yr old golden retriever, MURPHY, most likely has cancer and he’s going down fast. We see the oncologist tomorrow for a firm diagnosis. The anticipation is killing me but I find much refuge in my faith, specifically Eccliastes 3:2. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Thank you for your God Tap today. I really needed it. Your writing is a blessing and a balm.

    Reply
  23. Jennifer Stultz - January 30, 2020 3:02 pm

    I call them “God Winks”. Thanks for sharing three great ones today! ❤️

    Reply
  24. Eddy - January 30, 2020 3:07 pm

    AMEN! Thank you, I appreciate that. I hope to see you in Greenwood, MS soon! I

    Reply
  25. Suzanne Smith - January 30, 2020 3:22 pm

    Clearly, prayers ARE ANSWERED.

    Reply
  26. Dru Brown - January 30, 2020 3:28 pm

    I needed this! Everyone needs this. Thank you!

    Reply
  27. Connie Havard Ryland - January 30, 2020 3:29 pm

    I can’t tell you how much I love this. For me personally, giving up is never an option. I am stubborn and old. But someone somewhere needed to read this today. I hope that anyone on the verge of giving up will find an answer, find someone to talk to, pray a lot. Whatever it takes to get them through, I pray they will. Love and hugs.

    Reply
  28. 86pairsofpanties - January 30, 2020 3:33 pm

    Ugly cry right now. Your timing was a message from “the sky… onward! Thank you btw…

    Reply
  29. 86pairsofpanties - January 30, 2020 3:39 pm

    Ugly cry now. “The sky” knew I needed this this morning. Thank you.

    Reply
  30. Billy Joe Nunn - January 30, 2020 4:10 pm

    Of Fal, I get it. When are you coming back to Panama City. I love to hear your music

    Reply
  31. Joe Patterson - January 30, 2020 4:12 pm

    Thanks again keep fighting

    Reply
  32. Jeanne Butler - January 30, 2020 4:34 pm

    Thanks for those great stories. I sure hope help is on the way. My husband died this past September. We were married 46 years. He was my best friend. I miss him. And nothing is good anymore. Too many bills no money. I pray every night for help and to tell my husband how much I miss. I still have hope.

    Reply
  33. Harriet White - Atlanta - January 30, 2020 4:36 pm

    I agree with Connie. This was, as always, heart felt, genuine and gracious. You know how to zoom into the heart and save it.
    Please, please come to Braves country- Atlanta, Ga soon. I want to buy your new book and have you sign it. I would treasure that.
    Best,
    Harriet from Atlanta.

    Reply
  34. Shelton A. - January 30, 2020 4:46 pm

    Thank you for touching my heart so deeply. Eat her slippers, Luke. Amazing cures happen. I’m praying for a couple right now and I needed to read this. And thank God for families.

    Reply
  35. Linda Moon - January 30, 2020 4:54 pm

    I know and love two someones who recently received standing ovations from kin….just for turning 80. In 80 years of living, they (and most people) have had hard times, some much worse than others. A good sense of humor can often get us through bad times. If the times are so bad that humor is inappropriate or can’t be found, there will eventually be some relief. Your unique humor and GOODNESS that you find in others should be copyrighted, Sean. Thank you for telling these stories of fate or the Sky-Spirit to us today!

    Reply
  36. Sharon Weaver - January 30, 2020 5:52 pm

    God is good all the time and all the time God is good❤️Loved this story today and LOVE THE SKY❤️

    Reply
  37. aleathia nicholson - January 30, 2020 7:41 pm

    You are so right-never give up whether you flop or not.

    Reply
  38. Barbara - January 30, 2020 9:00 pm

    Good to remember. Thalamus, Sean

    Reply
  39. Harriet White - Atlanta - January 30, 2020 9:04 pm

    BAM! Just got tickets to your Book Signing in Lawrenceville, Ga! See ya there Sean!

    Reply
  40. Ann Gramlich - January 30, 2020 9:52 pm

    Sean, this is your best EVER !!

    Reply
  41. Jones - January 30, 2020 10:30 pm

    Another great one!! 👏👏👏👏

    Reply
  42. Tim House - January 31, 2020 12:14 am

    Dang it! My eyes are leaking again… <3 God works in mysterious ways, as these tales show. (And being a dog person, the last story really opened the leaking eye flow.)

    Reply
  43. Doug Graydon - January 31, 2020 12:50 am

    Sean, Thanks for a beautiful, uplifting piece. Quick question: do you ever exaggerate your hyperboles? Been reading your work for over a year and telling friends about you. My favorite one was 1/25/19 about your friend Paulo. Thanks for what you do! Doug

    Reply
  44. Cheryl Peterson - January 31, 2020 6:49 pm

    Thank you Sean. You always have impeccable timing. 🙏

    Reply
  45. Patricia Gibson - February 1, 2020 4:11 am

    Amen❤️❤️

    Reply
  46. Rhonda M Weathers - February 3, 2020 10:29 pm

    Love it loved it made my day

    Reply
  47. lfry1220 - February 6, 2020 2:34 pm

    Love you, guy!

    Reply

Leave a Comment