I’m backstage. A small theater. There is a band playing. I am about to go onstage next.
There’s a man in headphones, running a large soundboard which is roughly the size of a ‘62 Buick Skylark. Randy is his name. He will broadcast this on local radio.
I’ll be telling stories to an audience. My goal here is to avoid excessive amounts of audience booing and flying vegetable debris.
I have no idea what the hell I’m doing here.
Six years ago, I was laying a floor for an elderly couple in a single-story house. I was covered in thin-set mortar.
That day, I was cutting tile when my hand slipped. I sliced my index finger to the bone. Blood everywhere. I saw stars.
They drove me to the ER. I sat in a waiting room, holding a blood-soaked towel on my finger.
The doctor was young. He brandished a needle the size of a toothpick.
He said, “You might wanna hum a few bars of your favorite song, pal.”
“Singing,” he said. “Takes the mind off pain, and this is really gonna hurt.”
The nurse gave me a washrag to bite down on. I explained that it wasn’t really necessary, I didn’t need any—
“ALL MY EXES LIVE IN TEXAS…”
Twenty-five stitches. I was out of commission. I was miserable. I was going to have to get someone to finish my work, losing money I didn’t have.
The next morning, my wife woke me.
She was wearing work clothes and boots. “C’mon,” she said. “I’m going to work with you.”
I taught her how to use a wet saw. She cut tile; I laid it. Between us, we had three good hands. You’ve never seen a woman like mine.
After work, we ate supper at KFC. And I’ll be honest with you, I was miserable with my own life.
I hated tile-laying, cleaning gutters, and wiring ceiling fans. And I hated my after-hours job, playing guitar at all-you-can-eat crab joint for two-dollar tips.
After supper, I sped through traffic to the aforementioned all-you-can-eat seafood shack. I held a guitar and wished I could make myself disappear.
My tip bucket had a dollar in it.
There were two customers in the joint. The bartender and waitress were playing tic-tac-toe on cocktail napkins, yawning.
I almost cried. Life was supposed to be happier than this. I stopped playing, since my hand was a purple mess. People looked at me odd.
I set the guitar down and I told a story over the microphone.
It was a story about my deceased father, my hardworking mother, and a woman who had helped me lay tile all day. I closed my eyes. I don’t know who I was talking to.
Nobody listened except the bartender. He clapped. When I finished, he wrapped his arms around me. He dropped two fifties into my tip bucket and said, “Love you, dude.”
That was six years ago. I’m about to walk onto a stage and tell the story of what you just read.
There are friends in the audience. My wife is here. She’s been with me fifteen years. I look at her and still remember a day she wore dusty work clothes.
God. If you can hear me. Thank you. I’m sorry for the times I haven’t loved this life enough. I truly am.
The soundman is giving me a thumbs-up.
I’d better go now.
ccgoesdutch - January 22, 2018 7:15 am
you are one damn lucky guy with that wife of yours ;)!!
Jo Ann - January 22, 2018 1:09 pm
I’m sure glad you started telling these stories, Sean. Sorry about your hand, but it was a blessing to you & all of us, your readers. YOU are a blessing, Sean. Thanks to you & the Lord for pushing you our way.
Linda Dupree - January 22, 2018 1:30 pm
Ever notice how often we have to be knocked down to make us look up? Great testimony, bro.
Sandra - January 22, 2018 1:48 pm
if you could see me, you would see my two thumbs UP
carol0goodson - January 22, 2018 2:19 pm
You are a graced person: God has chosen you to do exactly what you are doing, because you give people hope, and in your own unique way, are bringing people closer to Him–or at least making them think of Him, which is the first step. I am glad to have encountered such a special person.
Susie - January 22, 2018 2:51 pm
Yes, thank you
Cathi - January 22, 2018 2:24 pm
Sean, another home run. You are killin’ it these days!
Marcia MacLean - January 22, 2018 2:38 pm
Jeremiah 29:11. Thanks Sean for another great story and reminder of God’s goodness.
Deena - January 22, 2018 2:56 pm
I assure you that I am among your greatest fans and let me tell you that I am thankful for that night you told your story and for the bartender who encouraged you.
It’s quite evident through your writings that you are much much happier in life and exactly where you need to be; sharing and spreading positive messages and love to folks just like me.
Thank you God, for this man and the blessings he brings to me every single day.
Jack Darnell - January 22, 2018 3:09 pm
Yeah, I know what thin-set mortar is and a tile saw. As I read this I thanked God for my wife. Once I had ‘hammered my thumb’ and couldn’t separate asphalt shingles to continue roofing a house, my wife who hates heights climbed up and helped me finish that roof. That was many years ago. WE have celebrated 61 years of marriage, she would do it today if needed. Great entry DUDE!
Pat - January 22, 2018 3:33 pm
Dude that was a great story, I appreciate and need those who lay tile, clean gutters, and wire ceiling fans!
Jack Quanstrum - January 22, 2018 4:06 pm
Thank you for being a teacher of life!
Pat Byers - January 22, 2018 5:33 pm
you are a lucky man. you have EllieMae and Jamie. and a writing skill that appeals to millions. and me. because i love what you write. how you see the world. yup. you are a lucky man.
Connie - January 22, 2018 5:36 pm
Life is funny. So happy it worked out that you are able to share your path with us.
Pamela McEachern - January 22, 2018 5:55 pm
I love your life stories, you are the DUDE of life situations, I’m hoping to have an epithany of my own one day.But it sure helps me to reflect on yours. Love your honesty and truth.
Peace and Love from Birmingham
LindaD - January 22, 2018 6:18 pm
Can’t wait to hear and (hopefully) meet you in April in Opelika. We are all survivors here in one way or another. You are a powerful voice for all of us, and I thank you. You lift us up.
Frannie Keller - January 22, 2018 7:28 pm
Love you, Dude!
Patricia Schmaltz - January 22, 2018 7:43 pm
You are where you are supposed to be, and would not be there without overcoming those challenges. Thank you again Sean. Keep story-telling. Who is going to play you in the movie? Ryan Goslin can grow a decent beard…
Mignon Croft Watson - January 23, 2018 1:43 am
Loved it Sean. Mignon
Dru - January 23, 2018 3:11 am
My son could play you in the movie! He has a red beard!
Susan Hammett Poole - January 23, 2018 9:01 am
Paraphrasing my sister, Sandi: “A person is either a basement person or a balcony person.” You, Sean, are certainly the latter because you lift people up. You encourage us and cause us to look up, to see the good in others. Thank you so much.
Ralph - January 23, 2018 6:46 pm
bet you did well.
Jerenell Gorbutt - January 23, 2018 7:23 pm
If you tell your stories just half as well as you have written them, you are fixen to be in tall cotton youngun! So proud for you!!!
Judith - January 24, 2018 4:48 am
The gift of story telling is unique and rare. You are definitely blessed with this unique gift. I’m thankful the Devine Cross maker introduced me to your stories.
Sandra Smith - January 26, 2018 11:42 am
Lucretia - January 27, 2018 8:49 am
Thank you, Sean, for the reminder to love living this life enough.
Kathy Grey - April 15, 2018 2:53 pm