You were not a great season this year. In fact, you were the worst. I’m glad to see you go. I hope autumn is better. Adios. Goodbye forever. It’s been a slice.
The thing is, I’ve had some great summers in my life. Some real humdingers. Summers that were pure euphoria, just the way the dog days should be. But you were not one of them.
One summer, for instance, our Little League team swept the regional championships. What a sunny season that was.
Yes, it’s true, we 12-year-olds were not playing a team who matched us in age, weight, or ability. Yes, it is also true that the opposing Methodist team was made up almost entirely of first-graders who still had all their baby teeth. But the point is we beat them.
After the game, I remember sitting on the tailgate of my father’s truck eating an ice cream cone at a rural Dairy Queen. And it was already the greatest summer of my life.
Except, as it turns out, it wasn’t. Because I would end up having many that were even better.
Like the summer when my cousin and I took a road trip to see a Willie Nelson concert. It was shaping up to be one of the happiest summertides of all time.
But it was not meant to be.
We were on our way to Atlanta, riding a crumbling two-lane highway in my cousin’s ‘82 Ford, when we happened upon a truck that was broken down.
An elderly man was on his way to his daughter’s wedding shower. Half of the man’s face was paralyzed from a recent stroke, and he was just so old. He needed help.
My cousin and I looked at each other and knew we’d never make it to Atlanta.
We gave the guy a lift, and even attended his daughter’s shower. We missed the concert and never saw Willie.
Still, even though I was disappointed, it was an exceptional summer. It was a road trip to remember. The Coca-Colas were cold, the roasted peanuts were extra salty. And I carry the memory with me.
There was another good summer. One sweltering July day a little black dog wandered onto my porch. She was covered in twigs and burrs. Her long coat was matted. Her floppy ears were muddy. She was a cocker spaniel with no collar, only cuts and scrapes.
So I took her into the bathroom. Bathed her. Clipped her tangled fur with Mama’s dressmaking scissors. Named her. Fed her. She slept at the foot of my bed for ten years.
We were tight friends. She loved to chew ice cubes. She always rode in the front seat. I buried her in the woods and couldn’t quit crying for a year.
What a summer.
Oh, and there was the summer I asked my wife to marry me. I remember the exact outfit she was wearing. I remember the weather on that particular afternoon. Deathly hot. Locker-room humid.
Ours wasn’t a dramatic engagement moment like the ones you see online. Today, when guys pop the question, they bring a minimum of four photographers along with them. If the special moment isn’t captured on camera looking like it was directed by Spielberg it’s considered a flop.
But that’s not how things were 20 years ago. Engagements were pretty basic. You asked her. She checked yes or no. Social media hasn’t been invented yet. I didn’t even own a cellphone.
After my future-wife said yes, we attended a Wednesday night church service. I played piano for the meeting that evening. But I couldn’t focus. I saw her sitting in the back pew. And even though the building was packed, I only saw her.
I forgot all about the piano keys. I was supposed to be playing, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” but I think I was playing, “Another One Bites the Dust.”
That was a legendary summer. One of my hall-of-famers.
So you see, dear Summer, at one time in my life I looked forward to your arrival. But that was before you hoodwinked me this year.
That was before the virus hit. Before paper masks. Before 24-hour headline-news channels ruled conversations at the American supper table.
Before handshakes and hugs disappeared. Before baseball got cancelled. Then uncancelled. Then re-cancelled. Then shortened.
Before people conducted entire verbal wars within tiny online comment sections. Before hand-sanitizer dispensers were placed beside every door, elevator, gas pump, and henhouse.
Before human beings had been isolated. Before many fell into a deep well of mental and physical sadness. Before clinical depression affected one third of adults in the U.S. And that’s just the third who admits it.
Oh, Summer, I remember golden seasons before the back-to-back hurricanes began knocking down our live oaks, tearing off our rooftops, and flooding our living rooms. Before wildfires consumed the American West.
Before movie theaters closed down. Before little kids had to wear latex gloves to play on the monkey bars.
Summer, you screwed up royally. You took more than you gave, you hurt good people, and you horsewhipped those I love. You were the worst season I ever knew. And it looked like you were going to ruin this world forever.
But do you know something, Summer? You didn’t ruin us. You tried, but you could not win. And anyway, it’s too late for you now. Because today is the first day of autumn.
And all God’s children get a fresh start.
Starting right now.
Brenda - September 23, 2020 6:35 am
Sandi. - September 23, 2020 9:24 am
You voiced the sentiments of many of us in this post, Sean. It’s a summer we’d like to forget. Looking forward to 2021 is better than dwelling on 2020. The new year ahead will be a better one in comparison!
Debbie Holder - September 23, 2020 9:33 am
Sean, would love to know if your property is safe from Hurricane Sally, I pray you did not have any damage❣️🙏
Mr. Jack - September 23, 2020 10:05 am
You, dear brother Sean, are a cool breath of autumn air. Thank you for writing.
Jane Elder - September 23, 2020 10:46 am
I don’t know about you but I’ve stopped watching the news. As my old friend says…at least I’m upright and able to take nourishment. Praying that next summer will be different.
Jean - September 23, 2020 10:58 am
I have seen friends buried this summer from the virus…One was my neighbor…and it has been really sad. I will be glad when all of this is over. Adding the political stuff to it just makes it worse.You are right….we will survive….
Heidi - September 23, 2020 11:05 am
This summer was like standing in the middle of a dodge ball circle. I hope the game is coming to an end soon.
Jenni - September 23, 2020 11:41 am
Thankful for the promise of a brighter new season. At least with fall you can take your frustration out on a pumpkin and end up with a neighborhood, brag worthy jack-o-lantern!
Diane Toth - September 23, 2020 12:12 pm
Marc Beaver - September 23, 2020 12:16 pm
Leigh Amiot - September 23, 2020 12:18 pm
Words of hope and resiliency are a blessing! Thank you, Sean! At my age—not too old, but no longer young—I cannot afford to wish any of my life away. Like others mentioned above, this year has been tough, and I pray 2021 is much kinder to everyone on planet earth.
Joy F Taylor - September 23, 2020 12:45 pm
It’s been a long time since I heard “It’s been a slice” 😎
Jan - September 23, 2020 12:47 pm
Amen and amen! Hope springs eternal that the good days are just around the corner!
Bill in Tennessee - September 23, 2020 12:58 pm
Thanks, Sean, I too know of people who have been withered into a low-grade depression by current events. I saw it most recently at a family gathering at one of our local restaurants that has now reopened… a few glum faces that could NOT be cheered up.
For me, however, I think I have managed to strike a balance that works. I’m an introvert by nature (and an INTJ for those into such stuff), and the semi-isolation was a bit of a Godsend. With so much less stimuli and basically turning off the news for sanity reasons, life is good again, almost like it was when I was growing up in the 1950s and 60s. On the other hand, I still attend my AA meetings (33 years sober) and still get to play music with friends from time to time… no dust on my banjo or guitar strings.
This has been a good time to look inward, reflect on gratitude and the many blessings of my life, and clearing out my jumbled closet and basement. Goodwill folks almost know me by name now, heh!
Hoping others can find their balance in this …. oh I REFUSE to say “the new nor…” STOP. For me, normal would be the 1950s, and that ain’t EVER coming back. Unfortunately.
Steve Winfield (Lifer) - September 23, 2020 2:13 pm
It will get better. I have faith that God will make it better.
God bless us all.
God bless America.
Christina - September 23, 2020 3:05 pm
Love this. Now I want to write a letter to summer too!
D - September 23, 2020 3:32 pm
Patricia Gibson - September 23, 2020 4:24 pm
Kathy - September 23, 2020 4:30 pm
Amen and amen.
Becky - September 23, 2020 4:31 pm
All of this is Oh. So. Right.
Linda Moon - September 23, 2020 5:55 pm
You are right. This summer was not so great. One great summer I saw Willie & Family while on a long road trip. I’m sorry you missed Willie, but happy you helped the elderly man. You often do this…help people and then tell the story like the old hymn does about “Jesus and His Love”. You, dear Sean, have lots of love and stories to tell. Autumn is my favorite time of year……especially right now because I only hear you in this farewell letter to summer.
Dina Harper - September 23, 2020 6:04 pm
Thank you for putting into words what I could not. I’m crying as I write this. I’m not sure if it’s because our lives are on hold or that, I feel they’re being run by politicians who just want power over us. You reminded me of wonderful summers that are memories. I wonder if it will ever be the same. I refuse to believe that this is the way the rest of our lives will be. Am I a fool? I don’t know. Time will tell.
Melanie Johnston Levy (Caleb and Sean's mom) - September 23, 2020 6:55 pm
Thank you, Sean, for giving us something to cling to…hope, fun, and the start of a new beginning. Not only do you look like my dear husband but I have a son named Sean! Not bad for an ‘old lady…(who’s still 25 on the inside)
Bobbie - September 23, 2020 7:46 pm
You just get better Sean. This was a summer not to be remembered but filed away in a bottom drawer never to be opened again. I lost two dear friends this year, not to the virus, but I’m so thankful they’re blessed not to be living in the nightmare that’s become our beautiful U S of A!!
We will persevere…never give up. I’m sure some good things happened this summer but they’re kinds overshadowed by the bad.
So thankful fall is here! My very favorite time of year. God bless us and shed Your Light on us…thank You for bringing us thru the summer of ’20.
And blessings on you Sean, and all of your dear friends and readers.
Cynthia Russell - September 23, 2020 9:38 pm
AMEN!!!!!! WELCOME AUTUMN… GOING TO POWER WASH SUMMER 7 MOLD OFF MY CONCRETE & ENJOYING THE BREEZES OF AUTUMN !!!!
Mary Ellen Givens - September 23, 2020 11:46 pm
Yes, you have spoken the sentiments of many people in today’s post; in fact, you are quite talented in doing so on a regular basis. However, I still feel as if we have so much to be grateful for in our country, in spite of mounting political strife along with Covid’s dreadful grip on us all. We can be proud to live in the good old USA.
One reason I am thankful? I was able to meet you in Fairhope, AL, just as the virus was making its introduction, but before we were required to lock ourselves away from all that we know as “normal.” So glad I traveled there from Arkansas to share that fun night and create an awesome memory.
Mary Ellen Givens
Robert M Brenner - September 24, 2020 12:18 am
Let’s Go! Goodbye Summerq🤿 hello Autumn ❤️ 🍁
Elizabeth - September 24, 2020 2:29 am
That’s a lot of wonderful memories! We hope for better times and remember we love your writing and care about you and your lovely wife!
Berryman Mary M - September 24, 2020 3:57 am
Yes! At last! A hint of cool, refreshing autumn air! Good riddance to the summer of 2020! May we be looking at you through the rear view mirror ASAP!
Pat McGilberry - September 24, 2020 10:25 pm
Amen, it’s been one we’ll never forget but not in a good way. Maybe we will appreciate good days when they come again. Your book is making me cry. For all of us that didn’t have perfect parents and childhoods.
Brenda - September 24, 2020 10:46 pm
Earle Wright - September 25, 2020 12:11 pm
“I forgot all about the piano keys. I was supposed to be playing, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’, but I think I was playing, ‘Another One Bites the Dust.’ ” Priceless!
Dru Brown - September 25, 2020 6:46 pm
We lost our little black dirt-road-found puppy last week. He had grown into a BIG thirteen-year-old puppy (never grew up) who suddenly got sick and couldn’t get well. Our hearts are broken. Except for the summer after my dad died at age 37 in a terrible accident, and the summer my mother died at age 81 just after my mother-in-law died, 2020 had to be the worst summer. I just keep looking and listening for Bear. Summer was hard on him, but he loved cool weather. We have lost friends to the plague. The news is godawful, and nauseating street violence goes on. So many hate the country I love. Will fall make a difference?
Mary Beth Sasser - September 28, 2020 12:04 am
I am about old enough to be your granny and I love the way you write. Your memories are almost universal for those of us in the Deep South . This bad summer will have its own strange memories one day.
Mary Hicks - October 26, 2020 2:56 am
Yes, you are right, Sean. This summer was not very good. I hate wearing mask!! I hate my great grandchildren have to wear them, but thankful they are able to attend school. Autumn has always been my favorite season!! I look at pictures that people posts on Facebook and it does something to my heart that I can’t put into words. I thank God for all the splendor of the beautiful colors. So many wonderful memories. Thanks, Sean, for the reminders of youth. God is good all the time. God bless you and Jamie and the fur babies!💖💖🇺🇸🇺🇸