I was offended. No matter how many times I swore that I didn’t destroy the aforementioned flowerbed, she refused to believe me. Then, she told me in no uncertain words that I was a “loser.” This hurt me. So, I said a few ugly things in return.

Point Clear, Alabama—Christmas here is merry and bright. I am in the lobby of the Grand Hotel, writing you. The place is decorated to the nines. Pinery everywhere. Red ribbons. Twinkly lights.

I have always wanted to stay at this elegant place, but I have never been able to get past security. I am here to speak for an Alfa Insurance conference to seventy insurance professionals.

This is the swankiest hotel I’ve ever been in. My room has a wine refrigerator, starched sheets, and complimentary cucumber mint shampoo. The bath towels and bathrobes are so thick you can hardly get your suitcase closed.

There is an older man sitting on a bench across from me. He is sipping coffee and reading the morning newspaper. I notice him. He is well dressed, and slender. He looks familiar.

Finally, the man lowers his paper and glares at me.

He says, “Do I know you from somewhere?”

“That’s funny,” I say. “I was wondering the same about you.”

The next thing I know, he’s sitting beside me. He says, “Wait a minute, are you Sean of the South?”

“That depends. Are you with the IRS?”

“Hey! You used to date my daughter a long time ago!”

Somebody please knock me unconscious with a cold chisel.

Suddenly, I remember him.

His daughter and I never actually “dated,” per se, but we went out once or twice. It was not a love connection. But what I remember most was a terse disagreement we had.

It’s a long story, but his daughter believed wholeheartedly that I ran over her mother’s marigolds with my truck.

I was offended. No matter how many times I swore that I didn’t destroy the aforementioned flowerbed, she refused to believe me. Then, she told me in no uncertain words that I was a “loser.” This hurt me. So, I said a few ugly things in return.

Young people.

We parted ways. I never saw her again. And if I’m being completely honest, I was sore about it. But life goes on, people grow up and get mortgages and forget all about being falsely accused for alleged crimes against marigolds.

“Guess you heard about my daughter?” he says.

“No, how is she?” I say.

He frowns.

“Well, she was in bad shape two years ago,” he says. “Got really bad, doctors didn’t know if she was gonna make it, but she did. She beat it.”

He shows me his cellphone. On the phone are images of a woman in a hospital bed, surrounded by family.

“Know what?” the man says. “We actually read some of your stuff to her on the phone when she was in treatment.”

I feel like the world’s biggest boot heel.

He points to his phone screen. “This is her when her hair grew back.” He swipes his phone. “And this is us at my grandson’s soccer game.” He swipes again. “She’s doing great now. She’s healthier than all us put together.”

His eyes swell. And I don’t know what to say. So I don’t say anything.

“Hey,” the old man says. “I hope this isn’t weird, but would you mind if I took a selfie with you? She’ll never believe it.”

We pose for a picture. He hugs me, then we bid each other goodbye. And it doesn’t get any more humbling that this. In fact, I’m almost too embarrassed to write.

But I have a feeling an old acquaintance is going to be reading this. So, if that’s the case, let me say this very clearly:

Please forgive me. Forgive me for being young and foolish once. For being proud, adolescent, and embarrassingly human. I want to apologize. Life is too short not to say “I’m sorry.” And this year, I want to start saying it more often.

But most of all, please forgive me for accidentally running over your mother’s marigolds with my truck.

Because I ran those suckers flat.

May your days be merry this year.


  1. Janice Takashima - November 28, 2018 7:33 am

    Sean, Sweetie! I loved your human column today. I laughed out loud at the overstuffed suitcase. I laughed at the smashed marigolds. Humility doesn’t have to mean being brought low. You show that humility can mean rising above.

  2. Sandi in FL. - November 28, 2018 7:46 am

    Sean, I agree with Janet. What a loud chuckle I got when reading that the swanky hotel towels barely fit in your suticase! LOL And then the ending about the flattened marigolds made me laugh anew. I’m hoping that your long-ago gal pal does read and then comment on this post. Your readers need to know her side of that flowerbed story! Glad she beat the big C, and glad your path crossed with her daddy’s in the hotel lobby. How was your talk at the insurance conference? My guess is they loved you and your high humor quotient.
    Smiles across the miles.

  3. Pamela McEachern - November 28, 2018 8:00 am

    I loved this, sometimes we get second chances to make things right. I know this made you feel better and I am sure your past friend enjoyed it too. Life is special like that. Hope your new robe is comfy…
    Peace and Love from Birmingham

  4. Karen - November 28, 2018 9:22 am

    You are so honest and authentic. So human. I love this.

  5. Kelly - November 28, 2018 10:41 am

    Great stuff! God is amazing sometimes with the people he puts in our path. Enjoy your fluffy robe and the peace of connecting with a past friend and making them smile!

  6. Elizabeth Edens - November 28, 2018 11:43 am

    Oh, I wasn’t expecting that or the suitcase. Awesome, I laughed out loud. What a great start to my day. Thank you!!!!

  7. Jean - November 28, 2018 11:48 am

    I laughed out loud at the suitcase bit….and I think we all have things like that in our past we would just soon forget about. You were given another chance…marigolds and all. Karma?

  8. LeAnne Martin - November 28, 2018 12:28 pm

    I laughed out loud too–like all the other commenters. What a great apology. Thanks for showing us how it’s done. 😉

  9. Lydia - November 28, 2018 12:47 pm

    Love this one,Sean!

  10. MermaidGrammy - November 28, 2018 1:04 pm

    True redemption only comes after true confession. And apology. You’re much better for it. What a hoot!
    Do you know the Grand was used by the Army during WWII? Check it out

  11. Liz Watkins - November 28, 2018 1:45 pm

    OMGOSH!!! I didn’t think the overstuffed suitcase would be beat by running “those suckers flat!”
    Hysterical! So human and so eloquently written!
    Thanks Sean!

  12. Edna B. - November 28, 2018 1:52 pm

    I have a busy day today, and you’ve just brightened it all up with lots of giggles. Thank you Sean, and you have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  13. Roy Parker - November 28, 2018 2:04 pm

    Thanks, Sean. My wife works for Alfa but was not at the conference. She reads your column that is printed in their company newsletter/magazine. I keep her updated on your whereabouts and activities. She’ll get a kick out of today’s story. I’m a 63 year old man and you bring me to tears daily. I live in Mobile and have stayed at the Grand Hotel a few times, including my honeymoon. That was 35 years ago and I’m sure it is even more grand after several remodels and upgrades. Thanks again.

  14. Ron Coppock - November 28, 2018 2:12 pm

    man-bad break ups at a young age somehow just stay with us–glad this worked its way through time and found a proper resolution—

  15. Rickey In Nashville - November 28, 2018 2:17 pm

    Maybe the funniest post ever…with a great lesson in regards to forgiveness.

  16. paula jones - November 28, 2018 2:45 pm

    Nothing is sexier than a man who can admit he is wrong except a man who is loading the dishwasher. 😉

  17. Jack Darnell - November 28, 2018 3:56 pm

    Great line about the towels! BUT are you just trying to be nice in apologizing about the stinking marigolds or or you lying in a ‘nice’ apology? Just wondering…….. As usual, I love the visit here!

  18. Pat - November 28, 2018 4:01 pm

    Sean you got BUSTED…Karma, well you know what they say about it!
    Loved the story!

  19. Lisa Perkins - November 28, 2018 4:05 pm

    Laughed out loud…..and I REALLY needed a laugh today. THANK YOU for always being an authentic person who makes my soul feel warm and lighter every day!

  20. Terri C Boykin - November 28, 2018 4:28 pm

    Love you much Sean! Too funny!

  21. Shelton Armour - November 28, 2018 4:32 pm

    Way to ‘fess’ up…and to apologize. Good story-glad it had a happy ending (except for the part with the marigolds).

  22. Barbara Pope - November 28, 2018 4:44 pm

    She obviously planted those marigolds to close to the driveway. Sounds like you might owe the Grand Hotel an apology today.

    • theholtgirls - November 29, 2018 6:46 am

      Don’t worry – the robe and any wine consumed will be on his bill! 😉

  23. Bob Chiles - November 28, 2018 9:18 pm

    “Fessin up” does the soul a heap of good.

  24. suzanne - November 28, 2018 9:29 pm

    A good piece of humble pie!

  25. Janet Mary Lee - December 1, 2018 5:54 pm

    Read this aloud to my dog, May May, and we both got the giggles!!! Sweet apology Sean! I would think you are forgiven!!

  26. Cheryl Hatter - January 1, 2019 1:57 am

    You are the best Sean! A very nice apology from your heart.


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