ANDALUSIA—My wife and I got our picture made with Hank Williams Senior.
The broad side of a brick building bears the painted portraits of Hank and Audrey Williams. It is the exact spot where they were married in ‘44.
I sang “Hey Good Lookin’” to the spitfire brunette beside me.
She said, “Hush, people’re gonna think you’re out of your mind.”
I am out of my mind. I’ve been a Hank fan since I was knee-high to a beer bottle.
Not long ago, I played an eightieth birthday party with my band. The birthday boy’s wife hired us to play four hours of Hank Williams music.
After driving miles of dirt roads into the sticks of Conecuh County, we set up in a sheet-metal barn with a rusted roof, and concrete floors.
The smell of horse manure was offset by the aroma of barbecued ribs.
If I live long enough to be eighty, I will barbecue ribs at my barnyard shindigs.
There was a table with all the usual fare. Pimento cheese, potato salad, devilled eggs, raw tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, okra, white peas. Coolers of cheap beer.
A few young folks danced. The birthday boy wore a ten-gallon hat and made his way to the dance floor. He dosey-doed with his wife of sixty-some-odd years.
They were something to see.
“Saw Hank play once,” said Birthday Boy. “Was the biggest fun of my life, my daddy and my best gal was with me.”
He removed his hat and kissed his best gal. To watch the elderly lock lips is a blessing unmatched.
“You’re the best damn present God ever gave me,” he said to her.
Hank couldn’t have said it better.
I drove home that night, thinking about that couple. Sixty years is a long time to share a master closet with someone. I thought about my own best gal.
I didn’t dance with her at our wedding—I was too afraid of making a fool of myself because I can’t dance worth a cuss.
Funny. When doctors found an irregular growth in her breast, my first thought was about dancing. I wished I would’ve two-stepped on our wedding day.
When doctors said the tumor was benign, I swore to myself that one day I would.
I pulled into our driveway at two in the morning. I found my wife at the kitchen table.
“You’re up late,” I said.
“Just wanted to make sure you got home safe.”
I turned on the stereo and cranked Hank Williams. I asked her to dance.
We tried. I was god-awful. I nearly broke her toe. So we slow danced—teenage style. She rested her head on my shoulder.
My coonhound tried to nose between us.
“This is silly,” she said. “I’m ready for bed.”
She was right. It was silly. God knows I’m no dancer, and nobody in this world can change how they’re made. You are who you are. And I’m more comfortable with words.
So I said the first ones that came to mind:
“You’re the best damn present God ever gave me.”
Lisa Egstad - June 17, 2017 1:23 pm
I would like to invite you and your bride to a free dance lesson at Luna Ballroom in Destin. They have private classes for guests who are beginners on most Wednesday nights so just let me know when y’all want to come as our guests. Also, they teach everything from waltz to line dancing. My husband wasn’t a dancer either when we started, and he is in his 60s! but now he enjoys it so much. I’m sure you would too!
Marty from Alabama - June 17, 2017 1:24 pm
Now this one really bring tears to my eyes. You are a master with words and your little present from God is one lucky lady.
Elizabeth May - June 17, 2017 1:37 pm
I turn 80 next Thursday. My husband of 61 years passed away last September. Thanks for the memories!
Sam Hunneman - June 17, 2017 1:40 pm
Nicely done. And about that dancing… maybe if you were to watch Kevin Bacon’s FOOTLOOSE for a day or two…
(suggest that you maybe leave out the backflips)
Linda - June 17, 2017 4:08 pm
LOL! Great idea, Sam!
Donna D - June 17, 2017 1:42 pm
Today is our 50th wedding anniversary…lots of good years, a few not so good, but we are blessed by them all. Your blog today said it all. Thank you for your writing, your spirit and your love for folks of all sizes, shapes and mindsets. Love, love, love your work!
Cheri - June 17, 2017 2:08 pm
So real it made me cry!
Susan in Georgia - June 17, 2017 2:34 pm
Ohhhh, this made tears trickle down my cheeks…I am crazy ’bout your writing. The way you put together words about relationships is nigh unto perfect.
Marisa Franca @ All Our Way - June 17, 2017 2:38 pm
Doggone it, but I get choked up every time I read your posts!! God may not have blessed you with dancing feet but He sure blessed you with words!
Jan - June 17, 2017 3:14 pm
Mark - June 17, 2017 3:49 pm
Mobile, mid 1950’s my mama dancing in the kitchen with me she’s singing “Hey good lookin…” it’s the first song I remember hearing.
B.D. Thrasher, Orange Beach, Al. - June 17, 2017 4:01 pm
We now live in a drive through world. Give me what I want, and give it to me now, or I’ll go somewhere else.
This includes; a job, a wife/husband, a community, and a congregation.
Master closets change every 7 yrs. now.
Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - June 17, 2017 5:10 pm
”Tis one gave me chill bumps!
Janet Mary Lee - June 17, 2017 5:26 pm
This one left me with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I think your best gal appreciated those words far more than any dance at that moment. Saying is important! The dance you two do through life is the important thing….
Carol van Peelen-Cosper - June 17, 2017 5:41 pm
Tears abroad and wondering why you hit the chord inside my heart (everytime!!). damn you are good! keep writing!
Bobbie - June 17, 2017 7:11 pm
I betcha she thought, if she didn’t actually say it, “ditto”!
Natalie - June 17, 2017 8:37 pm
“You’re the best damn present God ever gave me.” Now that brings a smile to my face and a tear to my cheek. Blessins’
Rosemary Wright - June 17, 2017 9:15 pm
Marilyn - June 17, 2017 9:17 pm
You got married in ’44?!?!? You don’t look like someone who’s been married 73 years!
Debbie Galladora - June 17, 2017 9:21 pm
Sandra Lee Van Dam - June 17, 2017 10:02 pm
Sweet. Here’s hoping that good wife never has another lump anywhere, ever.
I’m facing my second cancer after 25 years. My hubby can’t dance either, but he is my rock. 36 years married.
Dolores Fort - June 17, 2017 10:32 pm
“You’re the best damn present God ever gave me,” he said to her.
This one really got me, Sean. My husband of 50+ years said that to me many times. I lost him January 8, 2016. He was the very best thing that ever happened to me. And, oh, how I miss him! Thank you so much bringing up such wonderful memories!
I look forward to reading your posts every day.
God has definitely blessed you with a special way of putting words together!
Kay Keel - June 18, 2017 3:15 am
“The best present God ever gave me” and I celebrated 33 years yesterday. Thanks for every. single. one. of your columns! You are a fabulous artist of word pictures.
Jack Quanstrum - June 18, 2017 6:22 am
Your story put a smile on my face. How beautiful you and your wife are along with the first couple. Great story telling ability. Your words as usual swallow me up easily and I am whisked away as I read a real reality. Thank you!
Jo Brooks - June 18, 2017 5:12 pm
Thanks for this. in November we lost my Dad and my Mom lost her best friend of 67 years. They had a great run, and held hands and kissed to the very end. I am reading your article a day late, on Fathers Day. I know Mom is missing him particularly much today, as do all six of us kids.
Bob McGhee - June 18, 2017 6:20 pm
Way cool! I’ve happily had MY gift for 46 years.
To you who’ve lost someone you love, my sympathies. Perhaps you can take heart knowing that ‘Hey Goodlookin’ lives. My water aerobics group sings it three times a week with one of our exercises. Now it will have new excitement!
Sharon - June 19, 2017 2:43 pm
Our daughter and son-in-love were married 17 years June 17. I remember her Daddy having the first dance. I bawled like a baby.
Judy Klug - June 20, 2017 2:39 am
Please add me to your email list. Thanks!
Annette Bailey - August 12, 2017 8:44 am
Sean…as an Andalusian girl for 38 yrs., married to an Andalusian of 71 yrs, ( all his life), I was up reading this “Hank” story of yours. My husband cant dance a lick either but I went to the bedroom, woke him and said, “even though you can’t dance….you are the best thing God ever gave me.” He looked at me with one eye closed because I had turned on the light, and being a retired pharmacist, he asked me, “honey, did you take too many happy pills again?”
That’s a joke. I wish I had some happy pills! It will be 38 years this month that we celebrate our anniversary and goodness knows, I couldn’t even see myself with anyone else! Looking forward to seeing you in Greenville,Al. If you need a back up acoustic player, I know all of Hank’s songs and then some! Lol ☺️
June Phillips - August 12, 2017 10:01 am
Dance like no one is looking. Make a memory.
Davey Sessions from LA - August 12, 2017 11:02 am
I’m not the wordsmith that you are; I will just say thanks for your writing they are a blessing?
Sandra Simpson - August 12, 2017 2:29 pm
Your writing touches me every time.
Marie Wilson - August 12, 2017 3:53 pm
Because of your stories my heart is again full every day. Sean, for that I thank you.
Melodie - August 15, 2017 4:23 am
The only lump one should experience, is in their throat when they hear those beautiful words from their spouse, ‘You’re the best gift God ever gave me.’
Thank you for sharing this great story.
♫ And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance….I hope you dance. ♫
Tom R. - February 12, 2018 7:23 pm
Any man who doesn’t think his wife is the best gift God ever gave him doesn’t know his butt from a hole in the ground.
Mignon craft watson - January 31, 2020 2:05 am
Loved the story!!!!
Cissycis Lamb - January 31, 2020 3:43 am
Steve Winfield (Gus) - January 31, 2020 5:44 am
Sometimes when I read all the comments everything that I wanted to say has already been said in 10 different ways. So…
I love you friend.
Roger - January 31, 2020 5:45 am
I saw Hank Sr. in San Antonio in 1950, I was in my father’s arms and remember nothing but the story. We use to play and sing his music at our at house when I was at the University of Florida in the late 60s. The South Florida girls usually didn’t know Hank but they learned and loved, ‘My hair’s still curly, and my eyes are still blue, so why don’t you love me like you use to do?” Girls feel good listening to Hank! Always enjoy your beautiful love stories.
Martha Martin Black - January 31, 2020 10:46 pm
Sean please take the invitation to the Luna ballroom in Destin and don’t forget to write us the tale about it. What fun!