Hey, Jackie. Congrats on being born last Tuesday. Welcome to Earth, kid. Your mother says you tipped the scale at nine pounds and nine ounces. Please allow me to be the first to say: Dang.
You’re a big boy and you haven’t even discovered carbohydrates yet.
Your mother also told me she named you after Jack Roosevelt Robinson, the baseball player who scored 947 runs, had 1,518 hits, and stole 197 bases over 10 seasons. Robinson embodied the American spirit and revolutionized the game. I, for one, think it was a fine choice for a name.
And a good name is important in this world because a name sticks with you. A name outlives you. Sometimes in life it will seem as though your name is all you have left.
But anyway, the reason I’m writing to you, Jackie, is because when your mother emailed yesterday she sounded pretty blue.
Your mom said your family situation is not ideal. Many of your immediate family members have left the picture, and your biological father is absent.
“I feel like I have no family,” wrote your mother. “Like we’re all alone and nobody cares about us.”
So even though you are still in the maternity ward, and have therefore yet to receive a valid tax-ID (EIN) or accumulate any credit history, there are some things I want to tell you. Things I have learned in my short life. So I’ll quit wasting your time and cut to the car chase:
Your mother is wrong.
She is not alone. Neither are you. You both have a very real family. And it’s an exponentially big one, too. You just don’t know it yet.
Listen to me. Family is not DNA and it has nothing to do with your gene pool. It’s not about biological traits, sharing a last name, or having the same predisposition toward high LDL. Your family is people who love you, plain and simple.
I know that sounds like simple logic, but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s easy to believe you’re adrift in the proverbial ocean. All I can say is, think again.
In your life you will meet people who will openly love you come hell or hurricane. And often these people will crawl right out of the wallpaper to find you.
If you don’t believe me, look at your nurses who have been visiting the maternity ward all morning simply to nuzzle and pinch your chubby-wubby little nine-pound chicken thighs. They are your family.
Think of the derelict writer in Florida with a limited grasp on the English language and a significant overbite. I am your family.
Non-blood relatives can love just as sincerely as blood ones. I know this for a fact.
Take me. I grew up without much family. My immediate family was itty bitty. During childhood I had no relatives call to wish me a happy birthday, nobody sent Christmas cards, or attended graduations.
At my wedding I had three biological relatives in attendance. And one of them was distracted, listening to the Alabama game via radio earpiece.
But don’t feel sorry for me, for this would be a mistake. Because before my wedding, while I was in my dressing room, feeling lonely, wallowing in a commercial-sized vat of self-pity, do you know what happened to me?
I’ll tell you.
Visitors, Jackie. I had visitors by the myriads. They never quit knocking on my door. I must have hosted 1,700 guests in my Ken-doll-sized dressing room.
There were church ladies who straightened my collar, kissed my hair, fixed my lapel, and called me baby. There were former coworkers who showed up to the wedding with breath so potent they could have killed houseplants. There were past school teachers who tucked cash into my shirt pocket and left lipstick traces on my forehead. Family.
When you’re an adult you’ll sometimes be tempted to throw yourself a pity party. But if you truly open your eyes you will see a congregation of us standing around you.
We are those who have chosen to be in your life. We are those who do not leave. When the going gets difficult—and believe me it will—we will be the ones who love you enough to make sure you eat right, fill out your W-9s, and get your tires rotated every 7,500 miles.
No, we aren’t much to look at. We aren’t the most handsome kinfolk you’ve ever seen. We are a humble clot of plain human beings who don’t have many material possessions to give you. But don’t underestimate us because although we are meek, we have our PhDs in love.
We have each had our own struggles, we’ve surmounted our own obstacles, much like your mother. Sometimes we’ve mistakenly believed this world was sad and unlovely. Sometimes we’ve doubted the goodness of mankind.
But something wonderful always comes along to convince us that this world is a magnificent place. And while I can’t speak for everyone else, I’ll tell you what finally convinced me.
A night-pound-nine-ounce kid who, simply by being born, made my family a little bigger.
Joe Dorough - June 13, 2021 8:43 am
I might have attended your wedding but it occurred during an Alabama game.
Glenda E Hulbert - June 13, 2021 10:55 am
I love you Sean, you made me tear up way too early, and I was just rejoicing hearing Andrea Bocelli and Matteo Bocelli soothing music. Thank you for your insights, always on point.
Joey - June 13, 2021 11:12 am
Debbie Taylor - June 13, 2021 11:19 am
Beautiful, so so beautiful. Made me stop to say a prayer of thanks for all the people God gave me to be my family. Especially, my husband who became daddy to my 3-year old and over the past 47 years has shown me what real love looks and feels like. I’m going to wipe the tears off my face now.
joan moore - June 13, 2021 11:27 am
Sending a long distance hug and kiss for the little one and his Mother, don’t give up!
JILL D ECKENRODE - June 13, 2021 11:43 am
Hey, Joe. I wasn’t there either. Must have been AL vs GA that day. (wink) In all seriousness though, WELCOME TO THIS WORLD, JACKIE! You have just become my 12th grandchild. Forever and ever!
Carol Miller - June 13, 2021 11:47 am
Love your love and wisdom!
Nancy Crews - June 13, 2021 12:24 pm
❤your writing. Welcome to the world young man! Hello mother of this young man. I will be your family.
Sandi. - June 13, 2021 12:30 pm
God’s abundant blessings on Jackie and his mother! I’m sure he is an adorable baby boy and will grow up to do great things in his lifetime.
Jan - June 13, 2021 12:45 pm
Welcome to the world, Jackie. May God bless you and keep you, Jackie and Jackie’s Mom. May His face shine upon you and give you peace.
Debbie g - June 13, 2021 1:00 pm
Jackie and Jackie’s mom. I also love you. / you have lots of loving family. You just haven’t met us yet😀look at Sean. We all love him !!!! We’ve never met. But we are family
Thank you Sean. We do love you and Jamie
Nena - June 13, 2021 1:00 pm
Sean, you do have a PhD in love. May God bless Jackie and his mother.
Bobbie - June 13, 2021 1:41 pm
You have a special gift Sean. Your words come from your soul…I think I’ve said this before, but that’s the difference. Heartfelt meaning. Love in all capital letters!! God bless little Jackie and his mom! I hope they read all these comments from their “family” and know how much they are loved!
BRENDA DAVIS - June 13, 2021 1:54 pm
I SO LOVE THIS !!! AND YOU’RE SO RIGHT !!! I’VE BEEN SO FORTUNATE TO HAVE SUCH LOVING FRIENDS OUTSIDE OF MY FAMILY !! GOD TAKES CARE OF US IN SO MANY SPECIAL WAYS .
Alice-Ann Ferderber - June 13, 2021 2:02 pm
Sean, I can’t help making a comment. You are the sweetest guy. I hope that mama keeps a copy of this column with her at all times. There are days, like today, that it will be her saving grace. There are so many days and so many columns where you lift others and end up lifting so many of our spirits. I had just finished an email to a chosen family member and had said chosen family is terrific and how much I loved all of them. God bless you Sean and Jamie, Jackie and his mama. God bless us all. Thank you Sean, you have a double PhD in love with the ability to spread even more love and hope.
Pam - June 13, 2021 2:25 pm
Welcome to little Jackie!!! You ARE LOVED. And no more so than by the GREAT AND MIGHTY HEAVENLY FATHER who formed you Himself! And that mama of yours is going to do a FINE job! because, if she lets Him, God will direct her in just how to raise you and He will bring just those right people Sean talked about into your life. Welcome!
Christina - June 13, 2021 3:26 pm
Yes, baby Jackie and mom, it’s grace that the love of this big family heals many of the missing and hurting places in us.
Carla Ramsey - June 13, 2021 3:44 pm
I love the way you think !!!
Peggy - June 13, 2021 4:21 pm
Wow! This is beautiful!
Marilyn Brown - June 13, 2021 4:24 pm
Sign me up. I want to be a cheerleader & family member forJackie. I’m with you Sean. I think Jackie Robinson is a great name!
Karen Callis - June 13, 2021 4:36 pm
Bless you! So good at hitting a home run!
Linda Moon - June 13, 2021 5:06 pm
Second “Dang” here for Jackie and his mother…most especially for his birthing mother. I would’ve visited you there in the pre-wedding dressing room, Groom, if I had known you then. I’m choosing right now to be in your life. So far, it’s been mostly through reading your words and memories of LIVE events. If I wrote a PhD dissertation it would be simply “I Love You, Family of Man and Womankind”. But since I won’t ever write one, just take my words here as LOVE from your Thesis-Making Teacher!
Chasity Davis Ritter - June 13, 2021 5:24 pm
Sometimes the nonbiological love you even more….. tell Jackie and his momma they got kin in Oklahoma too. I love adding to my family. I got heart big enough to hold ‘Em!!!
Susan Kennedy - June 13, 2021 7:11 pm
Welcome to the world Jackie. From a Nana in Georgia! 😉
Steve McCaleb - June 13, 2021 7:57 pm
I think it was the great Mark Twain who once said “ the Lord in his infinite wisdom allows a man to choose his friends and it’s a darn shame he didn’t do the same with his relatives.” Smart man. There’s an enormous group of loving, kind and caring people out there (even if the news media denies their existence) and I hope this young fella and his mama fall right in amongst them. Sean, please don’t let that light of hope that burns so brightly inside you go out. There’s a lot of tired lonely eyes out there in the dark….looking.
Lynda Gayle Knight - June 13, 2021 8:17 pm
AMEN and AMEN! Enough said❣️
Karen Snyder - June 13, 2021 9:45 pm
I think one reason I seldom comment here is that I generally can’t see through the waterworks to find the keyboard. Welcome to the world, Jackie, and a big hug for your mama from family in Indiana. ❤️
Anthony Dare - June 13, 2021 10:03 pm
Really Sean! You scheduled your wedding on the day of an Alabama football game??🙄
Ann Pincelli - June 14, 2021 1:00 am
Truly beautiful. Welcome to the world, Jackie!
pdjpop - June 14, 2021 9:30 am
All ya gotta do is open your heart, allow those around to love you and love them back.
It’s a grand place to be, mother of Jackie. Feel the love. Return the love and teach Jackie The same by example.
I love both of you already. Now go out and hit a home run!
nebraskannie - June 14, 2021 12:44 pm
It took me years but the best think I learned is I choose the family of my heart, and they choose me and I could leave all the twisted biological ones behind. It became a blessing. My life is full of love and good stuff today! Best of luck and love to you and your mom.
muthahun - June 14, 2021 2:32 pm
SUCH good thoughts, Sean! But mom should not be afraid to ask for help, particularly with post-partum blues. Those hormones can be fierce, and requiring that one “family member” be a really good and caring doc or clinic.
Connie - June 16, 2021 2:39 pm
I hope this mom and her baby find loving care. They can be my family. I’m in Alabama but wherever they are, I’m sending love to them. Thank you Sean for saying the things the rest of us think but don’t know how to say. God bless.
Katherine D Jones - June 17, 2021 2:11 am
Wow! Once again, Sean, you knocked my socks off! I sincerely hope that dear sweet mother with post partum will be able to safe your Column so that he can enjoy it later. I sure enjoyed it! Keep it up – your column is one of the only things I read that helps me stay balanced and sane. – Take good care of your fine self!