Alabama—there is a chill outside this morning. It’s cold. Even my bones are cold.
I’m in a hotel elevator with two big, black men. Very big. I’m talking six-nine, maybe. They must be four-feet wide, wearing size-fifteen boots. They’re carrying luggage.
It’s not every day you ride the elevator with two NFL defensive-tackle lookalikes.
I ask if they’re famous.
They aren’t famous. But, they ARE biological brothers who had never met one another until a few months ago.
“I’m from Cali,” says one man.
“I’m from Birmingham,” says the other.
Their mother gave them up for adoption thirty-eight years ago. They found each other on the internet. Then, they tracked down their birth parents.
Their biological mother lives in Atlanta. Their father is deceased. They visited his grave yesterday.
“It was emotional, man,” one brother says. “You don’t think a dude you never met will mean that much to you, but… He was my dad.”
“Yeah,” the other adds.
Today, they’re going on an old-fashioned road trip together. They’re heading to Georgia to meet their birth mother before Christmas. She has no idea they’re coming.
One brother says, “I’m ready to facilitate healing to my family.”
I ask if he’d be gracious enough to spell “facilitate” for me.
We say goodbye, they waltz through the lobby. Every eye is on them because they are giants.
In the breakfast room of the hotel: a family. The back of the mother’s T-shirt reads: “Autism is not a disease.”
They are eating. The oldest boy screams at his younger brother. He is pitching a fit, making a scene. Hands flail.
The room gets tense.
She snaps into action.
She says, “Oh my! Would you look at this? It’s past nine, and you haven’t fed your toy frog.”
The kid furrows his brow.
“I did too,” he says. “Fed him this morning.”
“Interesting,” she goes on. “Then WHY did he JUST say he’s hungry?”
The boy takes the toy and observes it closely. He sniffs it. “That’s strange, he never talks to me.”
And just like that, all is calm.
Outside in the parking lot: four men dressed in jeans and boots. They’re standing in a semi-circle, heads bowed, cigarettes in hands.
I can’t hear what they’re saying, but I overhear whispered words:
“Lord,” says one. “Guide the surgeon’s hands…”
And even though I don’t know who they’re talking about, I imagine it has something to do with the man who holds his face in his hands.
I walk past them. I crawl into my cold truck and I’m thinking about people I’ve never met.
I can see my breath. My windshield is frosted over. And you’re probably wondering why I’m writing about strangers.
Well, I don’t know.
Maybe it’s because I’m nosy. Maybe because I have nothing better to do while my truck defrosts. Maybe because I’m a frustrated, wanna-be columnist who never got his big shot.
Either way, I want you to know that I’m grateful. Grateful to be here.
I don’t mean “here” in this hotel parking lot. I don’t mean “here” in Alabama. I mean HERE. With you. Right now.
Life is short. Too short. It’s people that make it precious to me. And that means you.
Guide that surgeon’s hand, Lord.
Suzanne Wright - December 20, 2018 6:38 am
Sean….always remember you are loved & special. Very special!
Mike land - December 20, 2018 3:10 pm
Sean, I have become a huge fan of yours reading your column in the daily leader in Brookhaven ms. This is the first blog I’ve read and it touches me deeply. I have a 13 yr old grandson in Bham who is on the autism spectrum. Thanks for sharing that beautiful experience of another incredible ASD mother. God bless you .
BTW where can I get your books?
Sandi in FL. - December 21, 2018 2:12 am
Amazon.com has all of Sean’s books for sale.
sparkerlpc - December 20, 2018 7:01 am
Sean, I read your blog daily and share it on my FB page. You are impacting more people than you know. You matter enormously. Not only because of what you do to make others know THEY matter, but because you matter to God. Not because of anything you do, but only because He loves your regardless! Hugging your neck from way over here on the Texas Gulf Coast!
Keith Turk - December 20, 2018 8:17 am
How do you share it on Facebook?
liz1workinprogress - December 21, 2018 11:20 pm
Keith, I get Sean’s articles in my email. When I want to share, as I just did, I click on the heading of his article, which takes me to his website. From there, I scroll down the page to find the Facebook logo, and click on that. Then a version of the “share this on Facebook” option appears, allowing me to introduce the article to my Facebook friends. Hope this helps!
Mary Kate Crawford - December 20, 2018 7:03 am
I’ve started reading your posts every morning and my co-worker and I usually talk about how much the post either made us laugh or cry- no matter the response, we both talk about how much we love the articles. You make such a difference in so many peoples lives- thank you for being such an beautiful writer and you for being my morning coffee companion- even though you never knew you were! I’ll see you in the morning.
Patsy - December 20, 2018 7:12 am
Brenda - December 20, 2018 7:24 am
I’m so glad to have you Sean!! Your my personal inspiration! I count on you everyday!
Ann Marie Bouchet - December 20, 2018 7:31 am
You are really the best. I love getting your column in my email eveyday. I always stop what I am doing to read it and afterward feel like I just had a conversation with an old friend who just “gets me”. You are absolutely an inspiration……keep on keepin’ on!!!
Mary Burns - December 20, 2018 8:48 am
I love that you care about people you don’t even know. Merry Christmas, Sean and Jamie!
Melanie - December 20, 2018 9:59 am
And guide this man Sean’s hands so that he may write and fill readers with hope and joy. ❤️
Karen - December 20, 2018 11:57 am
I live in Alabama. I didn’t want to come here. My daddy moved us here from Texas in the 70s. It has become my home. I raised my children here. It is the home of the Muscle Shoals Sound, the Singing River, and the Crimson Tide. Designer Billy Reid moved his business headquarters here. You can drive a few hours south, and find the most beautiful beaches in the world. You can drive a short distance north to find the mountains. New Orleans is a day’s drive to the west, and Atlanta is a half day away. This state is rich in art and history.
I live in a beautiful small town, where the traffic is light and the neighbors take care of each other.
If you look, you will find good people wherever you are. If you want to see the goodness, you will.
I hope everyone can find the goodness around them this Christmas, whether it is in an elevator, a parking lot, or their own living room.
Thank you for helping us to see it every day.
Connie Havard Ryland - December 20, 2018 11:59 am
Joy comes in little pieces. We have to see it and grab it and hold it close. There are days when we need the comfort of those bits of joy. Thank you for bringing us these glimpses into other people’s lives. I’m nosy too, I guess, because I love reading your column. And YES, you are a real columnist. Love and hugs.
Beth Ann Chiles - December 20, 2018 12:16 pm
The extraordinary in the ordinary -that is what you see in every situation and you bless all of us with those words. Thank you.
Robert Chiles - December 20, 2018 2:39 pm
I’m a Chiles. Maybe we’re cousins or something. Merry Christmas!
Sheila - December 20, 2018 12:30 pm
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I look forward to reading them each day. Bless you
Susie - December 20, 2018 1:00 pm
You are a talented and gifted writer who God uses for his purposes. Thank you for the smiles and emotions each day.
Sherry - December 20, 2018 1:04 pm
It’s those who are curious and look closely that help us to know that there is kindness and love in this world…if you weren’t willing to share what you see and hear with us, we might never realize there is true grace to be found if we keep looking and listening. Thank you, Sean, and have a blessed holiday!
Linda Brannen - December 20, 2018 1:09 pm
Very interesting read!!! Thanks!
Rhea Wynn - December 20, 2018 1:44 pm
Every day when I read your posts, I am reminded that I need to slow down and really look at people around me. I am so blessed. Thank you for your daily reminder to be more human and involved. You are an amazing person. Really!
Jan - December 20, 2018 1:45 pm
You are so observant and such a wonderful people watcher … you take time to see what we often overlook. You won’t allow us to ignore it – the beauty and love all around us. All we have to do is open our eyes and our hearts to see! Thank you, Sean.
Carol - December 20, 2018 1:47 pm
Thank you Sean for all your stories!
Today I have to have Epidural, nothing they say , but to me Big Deal. , I have COPD and every nerve makes me anxious !
So just hearing your prayer is such a comfort
I know I’m being selfish thinking of my little procedure, but what’s little to some is Hugh to others!
Thank you everyday for you !
Prayers for that man also!!?
Glenn Myers - December 20, 2018 3:24 pm
If it matters to you, it matters to the Master.
Norma Norton - December 20, 2018 1:48 pm
Such wonderful description of life as it is
Sara - December 20, 2018 1:49 pm
Just…thanks! And Merry Christmas!!
Nancy Wright - December 20, 2018 1:53 pm
Sean, you’re not a “want to be”! You’re the Real Deal! I love to read your column every day!
cobernjudymsncom - December 20, 2018 2:11 pm
Thank you, Sean. I love to start my mornings with you
Shelton A. - December 20, 2018 2:42 pm
Thanks for another touching column!
Debbie Phillips Hughett - December 20, 2018 2:43 pm
So good. Thank you.
Jess in Athens, GA - December 20, 2018 2:45 pm
Sean, you do have keen observation of people and things. My wife is a bit like you, I think, then again maybe she’s just nosy. We can be eating at a restaurant and she can hear the conversations of people around us. I’m usually concentrating on eating my food trying not to get any of it on me, while she eavesdropping on other folks’ business. Maybe I can get her to start writing stories kind of like you do. Nah, that would never work…she’s not humorous like you. Sean, just keep on writing because you’re reaching a lot of folks that enjoy what you’re doing.
Kathy Daum - December 20, 2018 3:10 pm
John E Brewster - December 20, 2018 3:20 pm
There is a fundamental kindness buried in your writings, sometimes hidden underneath sarcasm, humor, and the occasional criticism. The posts about your father, your wife, and mostly your dog, often invite tears of joy. Keep doing what you do and know that many of us are sharing your insights, hopefully expanding your fan base.
Karen Grant - December 20, 2018 3:46 pm
I’m glad you never got a shot as a columnist. They would edit your words and it wouldn’t be as good. Of course, you would get a paycheck. You could monetize your blog. I’m hooked on reading your blog every day. You help me remember not to honk at the person in front of me who is checking her phone and ignoring the green light. I started carrying cash again so I can give a little here and there instead of only writing checks to charities. You help me remember to look around and see who’s in need.
Pat - December 20, 2018 3:50 pm
Dear God, I pray for the brothers who have/will meet their biological mother. I pray for the autistic child and his family. I pray for the man who is facing surgery. I pray that this is the best Christmas evah for them!
Bev deJarnette - December 20, 2018 4:00 pm
Your “column” reflects a tender, gentle and caring heart. Your stories help us all, I’m sure, to see the world around us with more clarity than we might. Your sensitivity is infectious and I pray all of us who read your words each day can spread that caring heart everywhere we go- just like you!!
You have such a precious God given gift, please continue to keep your heart, eyes and ears open to share your world with us!!
Much love and many hugs to you, Jamie and your furry babies this Christmas ❤️
dogsdolls - December 20, 2018 6:10 pm
and I am grateful that YOU are here with us…You sir are a blessing.
Marty from Alabama - December 20, 2018 8:22 pm
Sean, I’m so thankful you chose to start writing your blog, post, whatever you want to call it. I haven’t been as consistent in reading like I was. Spent a lot of time either visiting with my husband in hospital or nursing home physical rehab or taking care of his needs at home. Thank God He is improving and I’m able to get back on track, somewhat. So don’t get some crazy idea that you are not talented enough to write good, helpful and much needed stuff. You meet many needs, even just a reprieve from day to day stuff (like that word – stuff.)
Merry Christmas to you, Jamie, Thel and all others.
Judy Matone - December 20, 2018 10:10 pm
I think you are getting your shot as a columnist Sean. You are being read. Every day by me and others like me.
Liz Watkins - December 20, 2018 11:48 pm
I love talking to people I do not know! I find them very interesting and always try to leave them with a compliment!
Oh you are a columnist! Hmm can you spell that for me??
Merry Christmas Sean??????????
Nancy Lane - December 21, 2018 2:02 am
You SEE people everywhere, I love following your journey
Judy Broussard - December 21, 2018 3:16 am
I say thank .God that you are not a columnist. You are so much more. We all wait for your blog everyday—you show us that are still good people in this crazy world. Keep up the good news. Wishing you and your wife a Very Merry Christmas.
Jack Darnell - December 21, 2018 5:45 am
I like it. Of course we all like to know about strangers but seldom ask or know. We do appreciate you giving some insight. some things are best not known, but somethings just give us joy to know. Keep ’em coming dude. And I hope the big guys mama can take the whole REASON in!
Melinda johnson - December 22, 2019 3:57 am
You are so Wonderful Sean. God Bless you and Jamie!! And of course your Pups!!! Love ya Melinda From California.
Cece Garrison - December 22, 2019 12:51 pm
I’m glad to have you in my life.
Martha - December 22, 2019 3:56 pm
Sean I’m so happy you’re here with us! Life without you would be so thin! Joy to you & yours & Joy to the world!