The little girl talked too much. That’s what teachers said about her. On the first day of class, they moved her to the front of the room because of this.

It wasn’t that she wouldn’t stop talking. It was that she couldn’t. It was involuntary. A reflex. A superpower.

Her smile is another of her gifts. It’s a quirky smile passed down from her mother. Her mother had a lazy eye and saw double. Whenever her mother smiled for cameras, she tilted her head to correct her vision.

The little girl picked up this habit. Today, she can’t smile without leaning left.

She joined the workforce at age twelve, waiting tables. By her teenage years, she worked at a nursing home.

In high school, she met this fella. He was wild, he liked to party. His major hobbies included Budweiser and ice cream. And she loved him.

They would marry. And they would make a life for themselves. The young man would work labor jobs until he became a steelworker. She too, would put in long hours to pay bills.

In her early twenties, she was fed up with small paychecks. She wanted to go to school. It was an outlandish idea, but she enrolled anyway.

She passed her classes with flying colors. And when she finished her degree, she decided she wasn’t finished.

“I wanna go into the medical field,” she told her husband.

“Do what?” he said.

She took classes, but they were hard, and demanding, and expensive. The science courses were torture. So, she used her superpower.

She talked. She made conversation with the smart students and the teachers. They helped her through. In a few years, she was a therapist. Bona fide.

Her husband was on the front row of her graduation, clapping hard.

By thirty, she tried to get pregnant. But no luck. After several failed attempts and miscarriages, doctors told her it would be impossible to conceive. The news nearly ruined her.

She was in her kitchen one day, the television was playing. A greasy televangelist appeared on the screen. He said: “Someone out there wants to have a baby!”

She turned up the black-and-white set on the counter.

The televangelist hollered, “Trust in the Lord, and you shall have your baby!”

Then, the preacher instructed his viewing audience to remortgage their houses and send in thousands of dollars to the address on the screen.

The woman collapsed on the floor. She cried. She hoped. She was pregnant three weeks later. She did not send money.

Our heroine gave birth to a son who looked like a frog. He was a quiet baby who liked to eat mass amounts of carbohydrates, and he was lazy, but otherwise a pretty nice guy. She had a daughter a few years later.

By then, her husband was starting to act strangely. He’d been showing signs of mental illness.

She’d gone to the pastor about it, but the preacher didn’t take her seriously. Over time, her husband became worse, and worse.

And worse.

He took his own life. Self-inflicted gunshot. The wake he left was enormous. In some ways, he almost took part of her with him. She couldn’t find sunlight. She didn’t talk much.

Soon, money became tight. And by “tight,” I mean non-existent. Survival was her objective at this stage of life. Her job in the medical field wasn’t panning out, so she made ends meet however she could.

She worked as a cleaning lady, a caterer, a Chik-fil-A cashier, a newspaper delivery woman. And she did it without complaining.

Life became complicated. Happiness became a myth. Her children were everything to her.

Then she got sick.

The illnesses came out of nowhere. Doctors said the disease would kill her. They placed a port in her neck. They filled her with poison. She lost weight. Her adult children cried. She moved in with her sister-in-law in Atlanta.

And one night, when her son was on an all-night drive to Georgia, the young man heard a radio evangelist on the stereo.

“There’s someone out there whose mama is sick!” the preacher said. “Trust! And she shall be made whole!”

Her son pulled over. He collapsed onto his steering wheel. He cried. He hoped.

Then the preacher calmly instructed listeners to cash their Social Security checks and send their insulin money to his home address.

It was a miracle. Doctors still can’t explain how the woman made a recovery.

Today, she is a spitfire. She is healthy. She likes to garden, bake, sing, paint, and babysit her grandbaby. She is trim because she walks all the time. Her dog worships her. And she is a woman who rolls with the Tide.

I had breakfast with her this morning. She still talks more than anyone I’ve ever met. But then, I can’t point fingers.

I was made just like her.

Happy birthday, Mama.


  1. Lindsay Walters - December 13, 2018 6:58 am

    This is absolutely beautiful, Sean. ❤️

  2. Karen - December 13, 2018 6:59 am

    Happy Birthday to your Mama. She’s a saint in my book. ❤️

  3. Sandi in FL. - December 13, 2018 7:36 am

    Sean, this is such a sweet tribute to your wonderful mother. How blessed you are to still have her in your life. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to her and may God bless her with many more.

  4. throughmyeyesusa - December 13, 2018 8:15 am

    Happy Birthday, Sean’s Mama. And God bless you and the wonderful man you raised.

  5. Pamela McEachern - December 13, 2018 8:44 am

    Happy Birthday Mother of Sean! You are the light of his eye and I can understand why. I hope you have blessings all thru this next year. Thank you for sharing this amazing man you raised with us.?

    Peace and Love from Birmingham

  6. GaryD - December 13, 2018 9:42 am

    Happy, Happy Birthday ! And may God bless you with many more.

  7. Caroline Stinson - December 13, 2018 10:22 am

    WOW! Thanks for sharing♡

  8. Nancy Rogers - December 13, 2018 10:31 am

    Happy birthday Mama! I bet you didn’t cash your social security check or send in your insulin money…funny how those messages from God don’t require payment.

  9. Cynthia Harmon - December 13, 2018 10:32 am

    Happy Birthday! Mrs. Dietrich! May God continue to richly bless you. You are an amazing woman whom I admire greatly.

  10. Steven P Bailey - December 13, 2018 10:44 am


  11. Lisbeth Garecht - December 13, 2018 10:56 am


  12. Elizabeth Edens - December 13, 2018 10:59 am

    You got me:-) happy birthday Mama!

  13. Melissa Shanafelt - December 13, 2018 11:12 am

    Your Mama is a special lady. Happy birthday to her

  14. Debbie - December 13, 2018 11:14 am

    That was a “big smile, laugh out loud at the ending” story…..Happy Birthday, Mama! Keep on talking….

  15. Jean - December 13, 2018 11:25 am

    Happy Birthday Mama! You are a wonderful lady who raised a wonderful son! Thank you! You keep right on going!

  16. Carmen - December 13, 2018 11:25 am

    I share a birthday with your special Mama! Happy Birthday!

  17. Annette McClellan - December 13, 2018 11:45 am

    A very happy birthday to your mama! Treasure her!

  18. Marlene T. - December 13, 2018 11:47 am

    Happy Birthday Momma Dietrich. Hope it’s a fantastic day and you have a year of happiness, joy and good health.

  19. Linda - December 13, 2018 11:52 am

    Happy birthday and Merry Chistmas!!

  20. Michelle Glass Stemerick - December 13, 2018 12:19 pm

    Happy birthday, Mama! ??

  21. Trina V - December 13, 2018 12:24 pm

    Happy birthday, Sean’s momma!! What a great present to her.

  22. Debbie Phillips Hughett - December 13, 2018 12:24 pm

    Happy ? to your momma!

  23. Sue - December 13, 2018 12:45 pm

    Happy birthday to your mother!

  24. Sue Tomlinson Baldridge - December 13, 2018 12:53 pm

    I love it that you love your mama. I love it even more that you are proud to tell the world how much you love her!!

  25. Nancy - December 13, 2018 1:02 pm

    Happy Birthday Sean’s Mama! You are an amazing woman who has raised an awesome son! Thank you for the gift of Sean from all who love him. Merry Christmas!

  26. Jo Ann - December 13, 2018 1:25 pm

    Loving Happy Birthday wishes, Sean’s mama

  27. Jackye Thompson - December 13, 2018 1:26 pm

    What a beautiful story .Your Mother is blessed with such a loving family.In God all things are possiable !!! Yours in Christ,Jackye

  28. Karen - December 13, 2018 1:34 pm

    Happy Birthday, Mrs. Dietrich. Your life is inspiring to me and I hope your birthday is full of love and family!

  29. Connie Havard Ryland - December 13, 2018 1:38 pm

    I would love to meet your momma. I know she’s an amazing woman, with a backbone of steel. Happy birthday from small town Alabama. Love and hugs to you all.

  30. Nancy Lane - December 13, 2018 1:42 pm

    My birthday is tomorrow and I talk too much too.

  31. Caleb Halstead - December 13, 2018 1:44 pm

    Indeed, happy birthday, Mama!

  32. Robert Chiles - December 13, 2018 1:46 pm

    Someone out there needs to be cheered up. Trust! Just sign on to Sean of the South

  33. Louise - December 13, 2018 1:55 pm

    This small town Mississippi girl admires you, Sean, and your Mama. Thank you for sharing. Happy birthday Mrs Dietrich.

  34. Sherry - December 13, 2018 1:56 pm

    ?The best writing is writing “what you know”…you know and love your mama…and you know how to touch people….thank you.

  35. Keloth Anne - December 13, 2018 2:07 pm

    Happy Birthday to your dear Mother??
    She raised an amazing son♥️♥️

  36. Carol - December 13, 2018 2:15 pm

    Happy Birthday to your momma Sean!!
    She has been blessed and Thank you Jesus for woman who raise children like you and your sister Sean!
    Love ya!

  37. Sondra - December 13, 2018 2:19 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your family with us!! You are such a fine example of a wonderful husband, amazing son, loving brother, and to be your friend must be one of God’s greatest blessings. Happy Birthday to your Mom. Let her know how much your readers love her too.

  38. Valerie Fraser - December 13, 2018 2:22 pm

    Absolutely beautiful! Really, really proves the power of God. What a wonderful gift your writing is, and what a wonderful grasp on life you’ve got. I haven’t read your blog long but I haven’t been disappointed in a single one. Thank you for your inspirational messages. Valerie Fraser

  39. Susan Swiderski - December 13, 2018 2:26 pm

    Today’s my birthday, too. (And I’ve always talked too much, too.) If my children and grandchildren have even half as much esteem for me as you have for your mother, I’m a blessed woman. A very HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your mom. She’s gotta be a very special woman to have such a loving son and person as you are.

  40. Toby - December 13, 2018 2:34 pm

    Happy Birthday to Sean’s Mom !!

  41. Marcia MacLean, Lynn Haven - December 13, 2018 2:44 pm

    What you wrote is better than any award, prize or gift your mother could receive. I like you for the way you notice the un-noticeables….but I admire you for the way you love and treat your mother.

  42. Pat - December 13, 2018 3:02 pm

    Happy birthday to your mama Sean…I’m kinda missing mine today…………………..

  43. Kristine Wehrheim - December 13, 2018 3:13 pm

    Happy Birthday to your Mama! She shares a birthday with my daughter ❤️!

  44. Edna B. - December 13, 2018 3:30 pm

    Happy BIrthday to your Mom. What a beautiful tribute to your mom. Sean, you have a blessed day, hugs, Edna B.

  45. Cathy Davis - December 13, 2018 3:32 pm

    Happy Birthday, Mrs. Dietrich! Your son just made me cry by showing his love and admiration for you. You are blessed!

  46. Peggy Savage - December 13, 2018 3:51 pm

    Happy Birthday to a special lady who is the mama to a very special man. Ya’ll both have a wonderful day and a Merry Christmas. …

  47. Steve Welch - December 13, 2018 4:13 pm

    Your Mama should be proud! I can think of no better birthday present than having your son or daughter write such a beautiful tribute!

  48. Suzette Allen - December 13, 2018 4:22 pm

    Beautiful! My mother’s birthday is Sunday. She didnt get her miracle but i am so happy that your mother did. God bless and Happy birthday to your mom!

  49. Sandi in FL. - December 13, 2018 4:34 pm

    The Golden Rule says to treat others as you want to be treated. The Platinum Rule says to treat others as you would want your mother to be treated. Sean, I hope and pray that your mother is always treated as the wonderful woman she is!

  50. Patricia Gibson - December 13, 2018 4:53 pm

    What a blessing!

  51. Tammy Moody - December 13, 2018 5:29 pm

    Oh Sean… Thank you so much for sharing this part of your MaMa with us! Such a special lady, along with her amazing children. Christmas Blessings to you and yours!

  52. Shelton A. - December 13, 2018 6:16 pm

    Happy Birthday and God bless you.

  53. Connie - December 13, 2018 7:15 pm


  54. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way - December 13, 2018 8:07 pm

    All I can say is I loved it!!

  55. Betty - December 13, 2018 8:47 pm

    Give your mama a hug from me & wish her a very happy birthday. She was blessed with a great son.

  56. Liz Watkins - December 13, 2018 8:51 pm

    What a sweet Mother you have and she has a great son?Happy Birthday to your Mom??

  57. Becky - December 14, 2018 1:26 am

    Wow. Just wow.

  58. Emily - December 14, 2018 1:58 am

    So very sweet! Happy birthday!!

  59. Elaine Watson - December 14, 2018 3:22 am

    I wish your Momma a very Happy Birthday. I share this magical birthday with her and wish she, you, and your beautiful family the best. Keep writing for us Sean, your eyes see the best in humankind. Thanks. Elaine

  60. Minnie Tate Bourque - December 14, 2018 11:32 pm

    Delicious and beautiful, Sean!! Merry, Blessed Christmas to you and yours!!?☺?

  61. that's jack - December 15, 2018 2:40 am

    Sweet tribute to your mama, dude. YOu done good. You also do good!

  62. Judy - December 15, 2018 5:32 am

    Sean, you’re have a beautiful heart and I know who you got it from. Happy Birthday mama Dietrich

  63. Judy Tayloe - December 15, 2018 11:16 pm

    Happy Birthday, Mama, and many more!

  64. ELLEN - December 16, 2018 8:36 pm


  65. Cay Weaver - December 18, 2018 3:11 pm

    Oh, Sean, you make my heart sing! This has been a tough year for us and the spirit of Christmas has been a little slow at coming over me this year. I’ve saved your columns for the last couple of weeks and just sat down to read them. With every one, my heart has become a little lighter. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  66. Kathy Grey - December 20, 2018 12:27 am

    Sean, your mom is an amazing and wonderful woman. ❤️


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