Grateful Boys

I like sunny days so bright they make you tired. Black and white movies. Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and John Wayne.

I am on my porch, sitting. The sun is setting. Linus, former feral cat and rodent security patrol, is toying with a mouse. He’s holding it by the tail.

Poor rat.

Two neighbor kids ride bikes down my gravel road. They see me. And since childhood knows no privacy, they march up my steps, uninvited. Heavy breathing.

The conversation drifts toward Thanksgiving. Their teacher has assigned writing homework. They’re supposed to list things they’re thankful for. They’re stuck.

“You’re over thinking it,” I suggest. “Try starting with little things. Like GI Joe dolls.”

“What’s GI Joe?” one asks.

God help us.

“What are YOU thankful for, Mister Sean?”

Well, it bears mentioning, I am thankful for lots. Namely: biscuits. The kind cooked in skillets. Sometimes, I think I write too much about biscuits.

I’m also grateful for baskets of pine cones. The cones on our cofee table smell like cinnamon. My wife bought them at Walmart for a buck.

A buck.

I’m grateful for the fish I caught. After an unsuccessful day, I tried one last cast. I snagged a trout the size of a baby cucumber. Not large enough to eat. Big enough to lie about.

Feather pillows, I’m grateful for those. Synthetic foam is a joke.

I like sunny days so bright they make you tired. Black and white movies. Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and John Wayne.

“Who’re they?” the kids ask.

Somebody, please save America’s youth.

I’m grateful for Baptist hymnals. I have one dated, 1928. Sometimes I thumb through it. And for Daddy’s old guitar. The finish has worn off, it looks like hell, but old hymns sound nice on it.

For the mountains in Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and North Alabama. God lives up there. For our soggy marshes in North Florida—his summer cottage is here.

For the creek behind my house. For the fort I found while walking through the woods—it was made of old plywood. I’m glad kids still build forts.

I’m grateful to be on this porch instead of ICU. I have a friend who died just last night. He had a good life. I’m sorry his wife had to make the god-awful decision to unplug him. I’m sorry his kids will grow up hating Father’s Day.

We weren’t close. But I’m grateful I knew him as a boy.

I’m grateful for boys. Little fellas who play hard, who catch frogs, who own puppies, and think they’ll live forever. Who still cry when they get hurt. Who don’t know sorrow—or hate. Who call me Mister Sean, and make me sorry the stork has passed me by.

But most of all,

I’m grateful for GI Joe dolls.


  1. Debbie W Roberson - November 21, 2016 1:01 am


    • jane - December 9, 2016 4:04 pm

      I’m grateful there are still “Sean’s of the South” who remind us southerners how blessed we are.

  2. Kay Keel - November 21, 2016 2:31 pm

    Your stories always make me smile…sometimes through tears, but smiling none the less. Thank you!

  3. Benita fox - December 15, 2016 4:53 am

    Your writing is beautiful. It is thought provoking, comfortable and familiar and resounds of all things good and bad in the south. It is both humorous and realistic. It recalls the good and bad experiences of life and puts them into perspective. Makes me want to stop and re-think how I spend my days. While it feels as southern as Gun and Garden magazine I think it is not just about things so familiar in south but can translate to the world at large. It is not southern in terms of the old south in the moonlight and magnolias sort of delusion but in a refreshing way that makes us long to be better people and to draw us near to those things of beauty in life.


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