Here’s That Rainy Day

We are getting gentle rain in Northwest Florida. I am on the porch, watching it fall. I love rain. We have been quarantined for 45 days, and I am going crazy. So the rain is a friend.

Maybe I like rain because of what it represented when I was growing up. See, the people I come from never stopped working. Not even on holidays, weekends, or during the World Series. It was always work, work, work. The only time they ever took a break was when the preacher was about to bury them.

Unless it was raining.

And this, I suppose, is why rain will always be special to me. Rain makes me think of days passed on the porch. The only time my father and mother would sit on the porch and refrain from blatant yard work was during a good rain.

My mother would be sewing something. My father would be shirtless, like a hick. He never wore a shirt at home. His people never wore shirts, either. He hated shirts. One time I asked my father what life was like before I was born, and I’ll never forget when he said, “We used to walk around naked all day.”

I don’t think he was telling the full truth because my mother was a hand-raising fundamentalist who did not believe in nakedness. If she could have had her way, I would have showered with my clothes on.

My mother’s fundamentalist food was always particularly good on rainy days. This is because my mother would bust her butt in the kitchen since she couldn’t bust her butt outside.

She had these gospel records she would listen to while she would be frying something. Or a gospel radio show she would have playing, where Baptist quartets sang songs that only men who were castrated could sing.

Her food was legendary. That’s another thing about my family. We grew up breaking all the modern dietary rules. We fried chicken, ate red meat, gluten, cholesterol, flour, butter, cheese. Anything that can kill you, my family has perfected into an art form.

My parents’ view on diet was: “Hey, my great-great granny lived to be 104, and she ate bacon.”

If you were to make a statement like that in today’s world, they’d sic the dogs on you.

But anyway, we always had something on our plates to “sop” with. Once you had eaten all the big stuff, you had to sop your plate clean with a biscuit.

If you didn’t sop, your plate became the legal property of someone who did sop, and you were regarded a family embarrassment thereafter.

Another thing I remember about rainstorms was the whittling. That was a big activity on our porch. The floorboards would be covered in curly white wood shavings.

My father always kept a DEATHLY sharp knife in his pocket. He was obsessed with knives. He always kept his knives honed sharp enough to commit random acts of surgery.

Seriously. He loved operating on people’s splinters with his knife. He enjoyed using the blade dig out thorns, cut bubble gum out of hair, slice rope for a tire swing, or whittling.

Maybe that’s why I love pocket knives so much. Maybe that’s why one of my most prized possessions is his little knife. One that I almost lost once.

But that’s another story.

My father once cut his finger off. His best friend, Ben, told me the story. I don’t know why my father never told it to me. I guess it embarrassed him.

The story goes: Daddy had been cutting something with his knife, the blade slipped, it cut the first section of his index finger clean off. Even the fingernail.

My father, who was as white a sheet, went to Ben and said, “I believe I’ve cut the end of my finger off.” That’s how he said it. No big deal.

The first thing Ben did was find the finger in the dirt, then he tossed the finger into his lunchbox, filled with ice. They left the jobsite and rushed to the ER. When the doc asked for the finger, my father opened the lunchbox and said: “You can have the finger, doc, but leave the ham sandwich. Ben gets cranky when he skips lunch.”

I’m probably screwing the story up. But you get the gist of it. Ben tells it better.

There’s a hole in your gut when someone dies. The hole never fills up. It just sort of gets softer around the edges and scabs over. But it doesn’t go away. Perhaps this is why I have been collecting knives. Maybe I’m trying to fill a hole.

My knife collecting started as a little habit, and then it grew into a full-blown compulsion. I collect antique pocket knives, new knives, found knives, kitchen knives, cheap knives, hunting knives, you name it. Whenever I see a knife I just buy it. It’s as simple as that.

My wife hates this. She always asks, “What’s the point? You already have a bunch of knives?”

I could say the same thing about her shoe collection, but I never do. Because I am a gentleman. And a gentleman would never say in writing that his wife owns enough pairs of shoes to shod a small Haitian village.

The rain comes down harder. My wife is frying a chicken inside. I hear the oil cracking in the pan. I guess she hasn’t heard, we’re not supposed to be eating fried chicken. Fried chicken will kill you.

But I guess we do what our ancestors did. Even when we can’t explain why. That could be why there are a lot of wood shavings on this porch right now. I’m grateful I still have my fingers.

Rest easy, Daddy.


  1. Christina - April 30, 2020 6:57 am

    How the sounds of rain, whittling and frying chicken bring comfort and warmth! Love this

  2. Sharon Lawson - April 30, 2020 8:50 am

    Beautifully done.

  3. Glenda E Hulbert - April 30, 2020 10:09 am

    love this one!!!

  4. leeboyz86 - April 30, 2020 10:31 am

    Yes. Rest easy, Sean’s Daddy. And all the Daddies and Moms – You rest easy too.

  5. Naomi - April 30, 2020 11:56 am

    I like rain also. My mother died in her sleep during the night in 1984 on Father’s Day. The night after she died, I prayed for rain because rain helped me sleep and God heard my prayer. My mother and my brother were Jewish but my sister-in-law was a Southern Baptist. They lived in Birmingham, Alabama, but I lived in metro Atlanta, Georgia. When my mother died, my sister-in-law was in her last days of pregnancy with their 3rd child. She actually started having labor pains the same morning my morning died. I prayed for her labor pains to stop because my brother and I couldn’t deal with planning our mother’s funeral and having a baby at the same time. Jews also like food for every celebration and tragedy. My sister-in-law’s church had already brought her and my brother so many casseroles that she didn’t have any more room in her refrigerator and had to put some of them in their neighbors’ refrigerators. When we got to their home after our mother’s funeral, our family and members of her synagogue started bringing food so we ended up having more food than we could eat in a couple of months. It was so long ago, I don’t remember if we brought some food back with us when we had to go home but we probably did. One time, some years ago, we had a wedding and a funeral at our church on the same day. We had to set up tables for the wedding cake and all of the food in the gym and tables in another room for all of the food that people brought for the family that had lost a loved one.

  6. Ann - April 30, 2020 12:21 pm

    What a comforting rainy day story….it sparks a lot of wonderful memories, different of my growing up, but sweet nonetheless…..thank you for the “ trip”…..and do be careful with that knife…. “ walk with the point down” ❤️❤️

  7. Molly - April 30, 2020 12:31 pm

    I miss my daddy too. I hear ya.

  8. Phil S. - April 30, 2020 12:53 pm

    Ah, those lazy, hazy, crazy days…and the rainy ones, too. While your dad worked with metal, mine was a brickmason. Each was a craftsman in his own right, and each took tremendous pride in his work. Although Daddy is long gone, I still have some of his tools – the big, old, heavy wooden level,
    a few trowels, and a brick hammer. Like your dad, he always carried a razor-sharp pocket knife, and he liked to whittle, too. He kept that old steel honed to an edge that would make the Barber of Seville proud, and he used an old-fashioned sharpening stone, not any fancy electrical gadget that eats your blade and shoots sparks everywhere.
    But, I digress. Think I will grab my Buck knife and go find some good chunks of wood.

  9. Cathi Russell - April 30, 2020 1:23 pm

    Sean, I hear you loud & clear. When both your mom & dad are gone, you’re an orphan again. This orphan knows your daddy’s so, so, proud of you. ❤❤❤

  10. Robert Chiles - April 30, 2020 1:26 pm


  11. Elaine DiRico - April 30, 2020 1:53 pm

    My husband is the same way- I adore knives and have a bunch. When he sees me putting a new one in the rack, he has said: ‘Why do you need so many knives?’ My response now is: ‘Why do you need so many screwdrivers?’

  12. Janice morgan - April 30, 2020 2:24 pm

    You always invoke warm memories of times gone by…keep writing!

  13. Linda Jo - April 30, 2020 3:04 pm

    You are our calm during this time of unknown. Thank you.

  14. Amanda - April 30, 2020 3:16 pm

    You write so well that I can smell the rain, the wood shavings, and the fried chicken!

  15. Larry Kessler - April 30, 2020 4:08 pm

    But do you have yer shirt on???

  16. Patricia Gibson - April 30, 2020 4:33 pm

    Love the rain too. Something cleansing and calming about it❤️

  17. Renee Kelly - April 30, 2020 4:51 pm

    I thank God every day for you when I read your words. Your memories are my memories too and fill my Southern heart with sweetness.❤️

  18. Linda Moon - April 30, 2020 4:59 pm

    I knew and loved a Baptist quartet who were thunderous sons. Really…..the “Sons of Thunder”. If it thunders near your porch on a rainy day, go inside because lightning might follow. I got the gist of your dad’s story because you’ve always told his stories as only only a son (or daughter) could do. I’m grateful for your fingers because they type words for us to read. Keep filling that hole in your heart, Sean, and keep sharing it with us. And maybe some of us can help you fill it up because we loved our flawed daddies, too. You were once very close to my daddy’s easy resting place….and it was so very kind of you to think of him there!

  19. Linda Moon - April 30, 2020 5:28 pm

    P.S. Before some meteorologist calls me out on my poor weather advice, go inside BEFORE you hear thunder, not after. I got sidetracked thinking of that old quartet!

  20. Linda Clifton - April 30, 2020 6:46 pm

    I’ve been debarking some hemlock trees limbs & making wall hangings from them . I sliced my thumb good the other day. Blood started pouring everywhere ! Didn’t stop me, washed it good, put a big bandage on it & went back to my debarking! I love debarking ! It relaxes me & I think of nothing except watching the lovely grain of the wood transform before my eyes. Nice not to think these days!

  21. catladymac - April 30, 2020 8:07 pm

    Not only was I lucky enough to be raised before the invention of cholesterol but also before the discovery of the soybean as a cash crop.

  22. Bkr - May 1, 2020 3:38 am

    Yet another one that made me cry a bit. You have that knack of stretching out my emotion and then poof! It snaps and I cry and I like it. Crazy. Crazy good. Thank you.

  23. Elizabeth LeDuc - May 3, 2020 12:58 pm

    No words except beautiful and thank you

  24. Melanie - May 3, 2020 9:01 pm

    Yesss Jamie! We love our shoes! 😄

  25. MrsDianne Kirkwood - May 3, 2020 11:35 pm

    I agree, very well written, I feel the love of the family that he inherited

  26. Mignon Croft Watson - June 10, 2020 12:48 am

    Loved that story!!!!

  27. Jessie Lawrence - June 10, 2020 2:22 am

    Reminds me of my childhood, laying in the swing on the porch and watching and listening to the rain come down. That was back in the late 40s and early 50s. Before we had air conditioning and the rain always brought a breath of fresh air. Til the rain stopped and the steam started to rise from the pavement. I can still smell it if I try. Really enjoy your stories, YouTube posts and podcasts. Even though I’m an old granny in Ky. We have a lot in common. Keep up the good work. Granny


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