Goodness Gracias

NASHVILLE—Nathan is 12. He is on his way to soccer practice. His mother is driving. He is in the backseat of the car. He sees something.

“Pull over, Mom!” says Nathan.

She does.

It’s a family, walking along the shoulder of the road. They are Latino. A woman pushes a stroller, two young boys walk behind her. None of them speak much English.

But this is no problem. Nathan has been taking Spanish in school. Nathan translates. He tells his mother that the family’s car has broken down.

So, his mother calls a tow truck. While they wait, Nathan’s mother treats the family to supper. They carry on choppy conversations in broken tongues. Nathan translates the best he can.

By the end of the night, two families have become friends. And to shorten a long story, today Nathan is a grown man who can say things in Spanish. For instance, Nathan tells me in an email: “Did you know that ‘bondad’ means ‘goodness’ in Spanish? It’s my favorite word.”

Qué excelente, Nathan.

KATY, Tex.—She is an EMT student. She doesn’t know whether she wants this for a career. She’s been on ride-alongs, sitting in ambulances, watching emergency workers. She has seen some terrible scenes. She’s just not sure.

“The first accident I ever saw,” she says, “was so traumatic, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for months. I just didn’t know if I was cut out to be a paramedic.”

One night, she is walking into a movie theater. She sees an old woman leaving the theater. The woman stumbles on the curb and falls onto her face.

Blood. Broken bones. Hollering. It is a mess.

The EMT in her kicks into action. The staff brings her an emergency first-aid kit. She dresses the woman’s wounds, just like she’d been studying to do. She immobilizes the woman’s neck. She keeps everyone calm.

“I was cool under pressure,” she says. “It surprised me. I was like, ‘Hey, I can actually do this.’”

She rides with the woman to the hospital. She calls the family and tells them the lady is all right.

Today, she’s a 10-year first-responder veteran. A paramedical instructor. A mother of three. A hero.

CHANUTE, Kan.—Gary has no high school education, a minimum wage fast-food job, and not much money. He’s dropped out of school to become a full-time caregiver to his older brother, who is in a wheelchair.

Gary’s brother needs help bathing himself, feeding himself, and using the bathroom.

Looking after his brother is more important than textbooks and pencil sharpeners. Doctors don’t know how much time Gary’s brother has left. And as it happens, Gary’s brother doesn’t have much time. He dies when Gary is 24.

A few weeks after the funeral, a man shows up on Gary’s porch. He is a distant cousin. He is a pipe-welder. He tells Gary he is moved by his dedication to his brother. The cousin wants to pay for welding school if he is interested.

“No thanks,” says Gary. “I don’t wanna be a welder.”

“Think it over,” the man goes on. “Welders make good money.”

It is quite an offer from a half-stranger. Gary mulls it over. He takes him up on the offer. And as fate has it, he is a natural welder. He is not only good at welding, today he is an expert underwater welder.

Currently, he has seen almost every state in the Lower 48, and even gone to Hawaii once. And as of last year, he just completed his college education. He majored in English.

“Welding school changed my life,” says Gary. “It’s funny, I wish my brother could see me now, I think he’d be proud of me.”

I have more stories I want to tell you—a lot more—but I don’t have enough energy. I’m still getting over a bout with COVID. Before I go, however, there’s something I received in the mail a few days ago. The letter was from Nashville, from a man who teaches Spanish for a living, and coaches soccer on the weekends. He’s a cool guy.

A man who says his career path all began when his mother gave a ride to strangers once, when he was a boy. Funny how one mother’s split-second decision can make such a lifelong impact on a kid.

The letter reads: “I truly believe there’s more good (bondad) out there than we as a culture allow ourselves to acknowledge.”

I believe that, too, Nathan.



  1. Debbie g - June 11, 2022 7:09 am

    I believe in the good also Sean. That’s why you are getting better we need to hear from our good everyday!!!!! Love to all

  2. Martha Laska - June 11, 2022 9:06 am

    I have been a counselor for 40 years. I can tell you, the world is filled with good, good people.

  3. Ann Thompson - June 11, 2022 9:25 am

    Me too❤️

  4. Kathy Painter - June 11, 2022 9:34 am

    Love your stories. The story about the EMT. That’s totally my granddaughter. I’m sending that to her. She is finishing her Paramedic program but always has doubts. Thank you

  5. Kathy Painter - June 11, 2022 9:35 am

    Oh and praying you feel better

  6. Joy Jacobs - June 11, 2022 10:47 am

    I totally agree with Nathan. ❤️

  7. Leigh Amiot - June 11, 2022 10:48 am

    Was recently in the mountains near Littleton, Colorado, eight more family members were gathered for photos, and my 2-year-old grandson took a little tumble over a large rock. The person closest to him at the time was a man hiking the trail, he squatted and gently picked up my grandson, sat him on his feet and spoke soothingly to him. The man had a toddler about the same size with him and clearly was an expert on such matters. Everyone can definitely benefit by stopping and reflecting on such moments instead of awful things we read online or see on TV.

  8. Sandra Jones - June 11, 2022 11:36 am


  9. Rick Putnam - June 11, 2022 12:17 pm

    Keep it up, Sean. I need this every day. Thank you

    • James Key - June 11, 2022 1:40 pm

      Try to have all of your columns pertain to Hispanics and to top it off print your columns entirely in Spanish.

  10. Ruth Mitchell - June 11, 2022 1:09 pm

    We all have a story. Thank you for finding some of the best and sharing them. Prayers that you soon have Covid only as a memory.

  11. Gay - June 11, 2022 1:10 pm

    I believe that too Sean, gracias …get well soon!

  12. Dale Parsons - June 11, 2022 1:14 pm


  13. Chris Wackrow - June 11, 2022 1:15 pm

    Great inspirational story

  14. Cathy M - June 11, 2022 1:20 pm

    Keep resting but don’t stop writing. Please? We all need more Sean in our lives and yes I believe there are good people in this upside down world and your stories today inspire me to be one of the good people. Kindness has become my favorite word. It is so important. That energy thing was a challenge both times I had Covid. I would make the bed and then sit on the sofa🙃. It just takes time and patience. I bet you have plenty of both. Have a peaceful Sat. We all love you and Jaimie

  15. Sean of the South: Goodness Gracias | The Trussville Tribune - June 11, 2022 1:34 pm

    […] By Sean Dietrich, Sean of the South  […]

  16. Mary M Berryman - June 11, 2022 2:11 pm

    There is so much goodness in people. Always uplifting to read you column for the day and hear the “good stuff”. I only wish there was more emphasis on that. Hope you feel better, Sean.

  17. Anne Arthur - June 11, 2022 2:20 pm

    There’s a lot of goodness in this world. We just have to look for it, or do it ourselves. Lovely life-stories, full of hope. Keep healing, Sean.

  18. bs65 - June 11, 2022 2:24 pm

    Oh, my gosh, Sean, this one gave me goosebumps! I have seen things like this happen in my own life. It helps to read others experiences to strengthen my belief there is, indeed, still much good in the world.

    I hope you are continuing to recover from Covid and will be back on your feet very soon.

  19. robnrockin - June 11, 2022 2:30 pm

    Thank you Sean for every word and column you type. We need more of you in this world. I’m so grateful you didn’t listen to the nay sayers in your life and that you do what you do. You are a treasure!

  20. Maggie Priestaf - June 11, 2022 2:43 pm

    Thanks for the good news, Sean! Sorely needed…

  21. Suellen - June 11, 2022 3:03 pm

    I always believe the good in people until they prove me wrong. Some of the orneriness have become good friends.

  22. Sheri K - June 11, 2022 3:04 pm

    Wonderful and inspiring stories – thank you!! I’m so sorry you’ve been fighting with Covid and I’m praying for speedy and complete recovery! That stuff tends to linger. I’m going to be selfish here and say, life without Sean in the morning would be worse than a day without sunshine! You are sunshine!!! We love you!!!

    • Debbie g - June 11, 2022 3:42 pm

      Amen Sheri !! Me too !!!

  23. Rhonda - June 11, 2022 3:16 pm

    Much more good than bad. But good doesn’t sell papers as they say

  24. Cindy - June 11, 2022 4:19 pm

    Battling Covid too. Tested positive yesterday. This is not fun and probably have the less severe variant. Thank you for writing through your misery. Your column is the highlight of my day.

  25. Brenda from Georgia - June 11, 2022 5:28 pm

    Sean, thank you for always looking for the good! Your columns are medicine for my depression and anxiety!

  26. Jenny Young - June 11, 2022 7:27 pm

    Oh I believe this too…thanks so much for sharing.
    Sean get well…we all love you so much.

  27. Karen - June 11, 2022 9:43 pm

    Thank you for sharing the many good folks that are in this world 💖

  28. MAM - June 11, 2022 9:59 pm

    You are the expert in finding good people in this world and turning their stories into inspiration for all of your readers. We appreciate you. Get well soon! Thanks for your every day messages to us. It keeps our hopes alive!

  29. CHARALEEN WRIGHT - June 11, 2022 11:19 pm

  30. Gloria Van Nostrand - June 11, 2022 11:45 pm

    So thankful you’re writing these moving stories. Do we EVER need to read them!

  31. Jan - June 12, 2022 12:45 am


  32. Brant - June 12, 2022 2:49 am

    I do believe you are correct Sean!

  33. Suzanne Cahill - June 12, 2022 3:52 pm

    Thank you for this beautiful story, Sean. Please take care of yourself and please know that prayers are going up for a speedy and full recovery.

  34. Freda Clarke - June 12, 2022 5:23 pm

    Thanks for sharing the bondad. Get well soon!

  35. Rosemary Mize - June 12, 2022 5:31 pm

    This made my day happier – thank you!

  36. Lynne Pickens - June 12, 2022 11:49 pm

    As usual, your stories went right to my heart. Love them!

  37. Patricia Gibson - June 13, 2022 1:32 pm

    I believe there are millions of good people! The news just seems to focus on the bad. That’s why I love you, Sean❤️

  38. suzi - June 13, 2022 2:41 pm

    🎼🎶 🎸 Think of your fellowman, lend him a helping hand, put a little love in your heart ❤️ 🎶

  39. Vince - June 13, 2022 4:42 pm

    Gracias to you, Sean, for helping spread news of all that good in the world.

  40. Carol Johnson - June 15, 2022 2:02 pm

    Absolutely “Heart Warming” to hear these wonderful stories. I pray that the good people in this world will win over the bad, who want to change our culture and everything about our beautiful country. May God help us all!!!!!

  41. Jannie Bryant - June 15, 2022 2:14 pm

    God Bless You Sean. And all the wonderful people who have touched your life.


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