A young man sits across from me in a restaurant. It’s a meat-and-three place, with napkin dispensers on the tables.
The young man is with a girl. They’re holding hands. She’s staring at him, he’s staring back. And even though my wife begs me not to, I ask how they met.
It’s my thing. Some folks make conversation about weather. I coerce complete strangers into telling me love stories.
The girl asks me to repeat myself. Her voice is uncommonly loud. He tells me that she is deaf.
“Our parents introduced us,” he explains. “We started as friends, and then…”
They’re newlyweds. He is signing while he speaks.
Dinner arrives. Our food is terrible.
A few weeks ago, I met an older couple in a movie theater. White hair. Steel-rimmed glasses. They were leaning on each other like high-schoolers.
My wife begged me not to make conversation with them.
But their hair was so white.
The man said they’ve been married fifty years. They realized long ago that they couldn’t have children. It was a harsh blow.
But they’re grateful for this today, he told me. Because during their forties, a young woman in their town died, leaving behind a five-year-old.
That five-year-old became their daughter. Today, she has a family of her own.
“Some things are meant to be,” he tells me.
I met a twenty-year-old boy. He was a newlywed. We shared a bench at a mall in Birmingham while our wives shopped. I asked about his wife.
He’s been with her a long time already. Her brother and father died when she was not yet a teenager. She wasn’t sure she’d ever survive it. He made sure she did.
“I’ve loved her since I was nine,” he said.
They eloped last month against his parents wishes.
Parents don’t know everything.
I got an email from a man. He’d been with his girlfriend eight years. She wanted to get married; he couldn’t bring himself to propose.
“I screwed up my last marriage, man,” he admitted. “I didn’t wanna mess her life up, too.”
After eight years, his girlfriend had enough. She applied for a job in her hometown. One morning, she left with a full suitcase.
“I was just sitting there, crying,” he said. “I realized I was screwing up big time.”
He sped through traffic. He even made phone calls to the airport, requesting to stop her plane. But life isn’t a Hallmark-Channel romance movie, and airline pilots aren’t played by Henry Winkler.
He arrived to find the plane had left. No girlfriend.
He walked away with his head in his hands. He found her car in the parking lot. He was going to leave a note on her windshield. He saw her sitting inside the car.
They’ve been married fourteen years.
So I’m leaving the meat-and-three place. I see the deaf girl in the parking lot, she’s signing to her husband. Before I crawl into my vehicle, I wish them luck.
Then, I ask them to show me how to say “I love you” using sign language.
The girl laughs. “Why do you want to know?” she asks.
“I’m a writer,” I explain. “We ask dumb questions.”
She throws her arms around the young man. She hugs him so hard his face turns purple. Then, she kisses his nose.
“Like this,” she says.
Well. I’d better start practicing my sign language.
Bill Henderson - January 2, 2019 8:33 am
I simply sit here and smile.
Estelle Sexton Davis - January 2, 2019 9:12 am
I know how your wife feels. My husband loves meetings people. When we are standing in line for a movie or anything else he will know the people in front of us and behind us. I wish I knew what to say to strangers. I am unsure of myself.
I am so glad you talk to those you meet. Your writings mean so much to your readers.
How is Lucy? Hope the New Year brings healing.
Kelly - January 2, 2019 10:49 am
Good one! ?
Joyce Mullikin - January 2, 2019 1:16 pm
Mary C. Sirmon - January 2, 2019 1:24 pm
I don’t write a column but my opening question, that my children hated all of them having died in their 30’s,especially when I couldn’t remember who they were was to ask,”who do you belong to”? I figured if I knew their mama and daddy I would know who they were. It always led to a lot interesting facts that sometime I forgot I even knew. I love your writings and always feel good after reading them, whether it’s a sad or a happy story. God is still good and is on His throne.
Happy New Year!
Mary C. Sirmon
Granny - January 2, 2019 2:10 pm
Love makes the world go round ! We have been married 60 years -still smiling ?
G-pa n granny
Connie Havard Ryland - January 2, 2019 2:27 pm
Ain’t love grand? Thank you for the joy this morning. Love and hugs.
Shelton A. - January 2, 2019 2:40 pm
Love and caring conquers all…thanks for the reminders.
Edna B. - January 2, 2019 2:41 pm
I love stories like this. We find love in so many different ways and places. It’s just beautiful. You have a wonderful day Sean. Hugs, Edna B.
theholtgirls - January 2, 2019 2:58 pm
Love is a good thing. Thank you for sharing these stories!
Jess in Athens, GA - January 2, 2019 4:08 pm
Sean, man, you make me laugh. I chuckled at the line “My wife begged me not to make conversation with them.” She should have saved her breath. Keep on writing, Sean, and I’ll keep on laughing…..or shedding a tear or two, depending on the story.
William Hubbard - January 2, 2019 4:18 pm
That couple sounds like Shelby Jean and me when we got hitched at 18 for her, 19 for me. Well, we could speak – and she frequently spoke to me about good behaviour – and she tolerated me for 56 years, 4 months and 9 days. It was a MAGNIFICANT journey.
LindaD - January 2, 2019 5:58 pm
Great way to start the year, with stories about love.
Happy New Year to everyone reading here, especially our friends Sean and Jamie.
Mike Guilday - January 2, 2019 8:13 pm
If you are ever in Lucedale MS stop and meet my son, he’s a policeman there. The two of you would hit it off. He can strike up a conversation with a fire hydrant.
Kay Keel - January 2, 2019 8:59 pm
Your columns make me smile! Thank you! How is Miss Lucy? Please keep us up to date. We may never meet your sister in person, but I think we all feel like we know her from your columns and we have her and Miss Lucy in our our prayers.
Jack Darnell - January 2, 2019 11:46 pm
Now dude, anyone who knows me, knows I love that kind of sign language.
Note to my wife: See honey I did learn sigh language and you didn’t even know it. But I love my implants too! 😉
Sharon Dodd - January 3, 2019 7:08 am
Sean, your posts always make me smile.
Libby Smith - January 3, 2019 3:29 pm
Your column makes me smile. I have the husband that talks to everyone and I wish I had that gift. Ours is a second marriage- mine from death his from divorce- either way , we are not fond of the D word. But we’re getting ready to celebrate our 11th year of marriage and only know the years are going by way too fast!
Please keep the columns coming
Janet Mary Lee - January 5, 2019 5:11 pm
The gift of Gab IS a gift. Wish I had it!! But it is even better when accompanied by the gift of your heart like you show! That I can strive for!! 🙂
SuzanneB - January 9, 2019 4:32 am
Reading your stories is always better than watching a Hallmark movie.
Gale Smith - February 2, 2019 9:25 am
I love you and your gift of gab, Sean. And besides, ” my hair is so white….”
Brenda - February 2, 2019 1:13 pm
Just in case you don’t know ? is the sign for I love you. My granddaughter is deaf so we use it a lot. Good post!
Mary Ann Massey - February 2, 2019 1:52 pm
Bill Henderson…ME TOO ?
Nancy - February 2, 2019 5:36 pm
My late husband talked to everyone, hugged them, and told jokes. It rubbed off on me and now I talk to people too! I ask people pumping gas how much it cost when they started buying gas and I talk to people in elevators. Try it. You might make some new friends.
Gloria Rumph - February 2, 2019 11:27 pm