Nice Guys

I’d like to make my mama proud. That’s one of my main goals in this world. If I’ve made her proud, well, then I’ve really done something.

My mother, you see, is the kind of woman who taught me how to be nice, and how to have manners.

Long ago, she would make me sit with my cousin Myrtle at covered dish socials, so Myrtle wouldn’t be sitting alone. Mama would say things like: “Be polite, and make sure you ask your cousin how her baton twirling is coming along.”

Admittedly, Myrtle was about as interesting as watching ditchwater evaporate. But like I said, I want my mama to be proud.

Maybe I should back up and tell you where all this is coming from.

Earlier this week, I spent some time with people who were—how do I put this— not very nice. Now, they weren’t MEAN people, per se, but you don’t have to be “mean” to be un-nice.

I hope I am never an un-nice person. What would Mama think?

Mama is a woman who says things like: “Don’t talk about yourself too much, it’s like passing gas in an elevator; people will smile, but they don’t mean it.

And: “Be a good listener, your ears will never get you in trouble.”

I don’t aspire to much in this life, but I know that I want to be the kind of man who listens.

Also, I want to be the kind of man who dogs follow for no reason. I want to be the guy who does magic tricks for toddlers.

I want to go around reminding teenagers how important they are. I want to listen to the jokes old men tell when their wives aren’t around.

I want to hear long stories on porches, and I want to be the first to respond: “Well, I Suwannee.”

A good Suwannee is hard to find.

I want the “little guys” to be famous. I want the overlooked to be looked at. I want to clap for the kid who dreams of singing on the Opry stage one day—like Mama clapped for me. I’ve never been on the Opry stage, and never will, either. But Mama really believed I could have been.

I want to believe in people like she does. I want to watch sunsets with friends and convince them that they are the most SPECIALEST people in the world. And I want to use words like “specialest,” even though that word is English blasphemy.

I want cheap beer in the bottle. I don’t need a New York strip, just give me a hamburger and onion rings as big as hula hoops. Then, I want you to know that you can hug me whenever you want and get a hug in return.

A good hug is harder to find than a good Suwannee.

And if I live long enough to see my own white hair, I want to be a man who is proud of people who don’t have someone to be proud of them.

I want my friends to succeed and surpass me. I want to be the one cheering for them in the bleachers. I want my funeral to be filled with people who say things like, “Sean Dietrich, wasn’t he a mess?”

And I want you to know you are magnificent.

Everyone and anyone. Landscapers, meter-readers, garbage men, abused spouses, ex-convicts, divorcees, jewelry artists, single mothers, lonely fathers, Mexican immigrants, nurses, attorneys, Waffle House waitresses, concrete layers, Baptists, insurance salesmen, and even my cousin Myrtle.

I hope I am the sort of guy who is kind.

But most of all, I hope to make my mother proud.


  1. Sandi in FL. - March 24, 2019 6:53 am

    The consensus of popular opinion says you have already made your dear mother proud, Sean!

  2. Karen Greatrix - March 24, 2019 7:31 am

    I agree

  3. Brenda - March 24, 2019 7:37 am

    Sean, I know you have made your mama proud. You have made me proud also. I could not be more proud, and I don’t know what I would have done, if I hadn’t found you. Thank you

  4. Nell Thomas - March 24, 2019 7:54 am

    Some of the best things in life are free. One of them is to make other people happy. Just a smile and a Hello- How are you? – can go a long way.

  5. Leslie in NC - March 24, 2019 9:44 am

    Sean, you often tell us, your dear readers, that we are beautiful, worthy and loved. The days I read those words from you are more often than not, days I really need to hear them. I’m sending a big virtual hug your way. Thank you for your tender heart and for making us feel magnificent!

  6. Karen - March 24, 2019 9:57 am

    You already are that guy. Thank you for bringing some kindness to all of us.

  7. Carol Heidbreder - March 24, 2019 10:15 am

    Sean, you hit this one out of the park! Human kindness…so easy to give. We all benefit …the giver and the receiver! You are over flowing with this and such a great role model for your readers. Hugs to you this early Sunday morning! Sun not even up yet and you have made my day!

  8. Jean - March 24, 2019 10:27 am

    I must agree with the others. You make your mama proud every day! We need a gazillion more like you…or similar since we have so much ugliness in this world now. If i could hug you…i would and be thrilled to do so. Remember this, if I ever get close enough to hug you…look out here comes a bear hug!

  9. Sue - March 24, 2019 11:02 am

    Yes, thank you. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
    I’m sorry you ran into a few people that forgot how to act nice. I hope they lost sleep for their unkindness.

  10. Jones - March 24, 2019 11:56 am

    Good one!??

  11. Cathi Russell - March 24, 2019 12:09 pm

    Sean, you ARE a mess. And your mama is proud of you. And I adore you too!

  12. Mary C. Sirmon - March 24, 2019 12:13 pm

    Because I was that fat kid growing up I wanted to be that person to make the fat child feel good.
    You say it best. I want to make people feel good
    and fit in with all the rest.

    Everyone belongs to somebody that loves them and they are important to them. We are all God’s
    Children. We all have a perfect place to be and I want to help those people who have no purpose.

    Thank you for saying it better than I can. Your mother did well. God’s blessings to you and to
    your mother.

  13. Norma Norton - March 24, 2019 12:22 pm

    Sean- your mother would be very proud of you. Spreading joy is truly a ministry

  14. Debbie Taylor - March 24, 2019 12:32 pm

    Sean, you’re doing a fine job making your mama proud. I was very lucky (really, the angels brought him to me) to marry a nice guy who’s mama is proud of him, too. ❤️✌️❤️

  15. Patricia Pope - March 24, 2019 12:40 pm

    Sean, again the best!!! Today you remind me of an American St. Francis of Assisi who wrote one of my favorite prayers, “Lord make me an instrument of your peace…” You bring joy wherever you go, because you really like people! May much love fill your days!!! And may many mothers take lessons from yours!!!

  16. Paul E. Click - March 24, 2019 12:54 pm

    Well, I Suwannee, you are a mess! And, our Mothers were a lot alike! The first Bible verse I remember her trying to teach my brother and I was Ephesians 4:32. “Be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” It took us a lot longer to get it than she intended!
    Keep telling the good story!
    Paul E. Click, DVM
    Cullman, Al

  17. MermaidGrammy - March 24, 2019 1:08 pm

    You precious child, you make ALL mothers proud. We all love you. You are The son to all mothers

  18. Meredith Smith - March 24, 2019 2:12 pm

    Sean, my Mantra has always been “Be Kind.” You couldn’t have said it any better.

  19. Linda Moon - March 24, 2019 2:56 pm

    A Good Man is hard to find. You are one.

  20. joyful reader - March 24, 2019 3:12 pm

    Forwarded this to my friend David in Ga. His Mama is most proud & rightfully so of her fiddle playing, kind hearted, cat loving son. I’m graced having him for a friend. Your Mama’s beaming proud Sean.

  21. JANICE R TAKASHIMA - March 24, 2019 3:30 pm

    You do your Mama proud.
    My dad’s business partner passed after he did. Leo’s Mama died when he was born and he spent his babyhood and early years in an orphanage until his dad remarried and came to get him back. Somehow, someone taught him because he was exactly that kind of kind person that you describe. He had his flaws. At his funeral what impressed me was all of the men who showed up to swap yarns about what a screw-up Leo was. They loved him. He was like my dad’s younger brother and Leo’s son, Kenny, is like a younger brother to me now.

  22. Chris Cook - March 24, 2019 3:34 pm

    Sean- every time I read one of your posts, it warms my heart, and just when I think the world is getting a little too “mean” and would love to run into some truly nice people- along comes Sean and all the wonderful readers who comment on your wonderful insights and who feel just like you do. The world needs more people like you and your Mama. God Bless her for raising she a wonderful person- you are doing your Mama proud.

  23. Edna B. - March 24, 2019 3:38 pm

    I think you’ve reached your goal. Have a wonderful day Sean, hugs, Edna B.

  24. Steve Scott - March 24, 2019 5:37 pm

    Hi Sean. Yep. Goal reached! I look forward to your column every day. It is better than a One-a-Day vitamin and gives people hope. I am asking – could I have a 5 minute phone call with you some time? No agenda, no topic, no favors asked, no gripes given. It’s just that I come from down your way and your writing resonates with me, that’s all. It would mean a lot to me. Steve Scott (706) 315-9117. Thank you.

  25. Carol - March 24, 2019 10:08 pm

    You make all us mother’s proud!!
    Because we wish our son was like you.
    I’m not your momma. But can I tell you how proud of you I am!! One day I hope I get to get that hug from you and I sure will be a proud momma!
    Love ya!

  26. Ingrid W - March 24, 2019 10:35 pm

    I know your Mama is “busting her buttons” she’s so proud. By the way, don’t give up on Nashville yet!

  27. Cathy Zmoss - March 24, 2019 10:37 pm

    There is no doubt your mama is proud as a peacock. She taught you all the right stuff and as a mother I can tell you that all a mother ever wants is for her children to be happy and know how to treat people with courtesy and respect. I think she nailed it, big time. Pls let your readers know if you read our comments. I put slot of thought into mine and I need to know that you read them. By the way, knowing how to hug is an art form. Not like someone is on fire but a good , soulful hug. That’s good medicine for anyone. Happy Sunday to you and Jaime and pls , give your mom a hug for me. ?

    • Sandi in FL. - March 25, 2019 12:19 am

      I agree with Cathy 100%, Sean. Please let us readers know whether or not you read our comments on your stories/posts. We certainly hope you do! I noticed that one person requested a 5 minute telecon with you and gave his phone number. Others often ask a simple question which we all would like to know the answer to! Perhaps in your next post you can tell us if our remarks are read by you soon after we add them to a story. Sincere thanks and a warm hug from south Florida!

  28. Shelton A. - March 25, 2019 12:08 am

    You’ve made your Mama very proud and people like me, you make me proud that I read and appreciate you (me and a whole lot of others).

  29. Jennifer Whisenant - March 25, 2019 3:47 am

    Sean, Does it really irritate you when you are in a group and realize that everyone is “shunning” someone. They always think it is not obvious but to those of us that like watching you can see it happening before your very eyes. They engage in a little small talk with the person and then they begin to look above and around them for someone they feel is more “important.” I was just with a group of Presbyterians ( I confess to this affiliation) and watched this happen to a young lady. Now I know this does not just afflict the Presbyterians but it seems to occur quite often although they are usually droning on and on about helping the poor and oppressed and encouraging me to be more in to diversity. Glad your mother raised you like my parents raised me. It makes me just decide that the shunned person will become my good friend and we will be hugging goodbye like cousins before we part company. Under dogs of the world unite and lets spread real love and concern for people not the artificial kind that is being spouted. Real hugging and uplifting kind of concern. I teach Sunday school and I think today when I was trying to explain my actions they thought I was a bit “off my rocker” but you have send me a hug this evening. Thanks Jennifer

  30. Barbara Wells - March 25, 2019 5:08 am

    Sean, I’m sure you made your mother proud by your kindness in entertaining last night at Dazzle & Dine in Panama City. Thank you!

  31. Charaleen Wright - March 25, 2019 5:31 am

  32. Lori Brown - March 25, 2019 3:10 pm

    Oh, wow! You took me back to my grandmother and granddaddy’s front porch and my grandmother’s laugh and “I’ll Swannee!” I never knew what that meant, but I loved it and her. Thank you for the reminder!

  33. Janet Marie Beech - March 25, 2019 3:16 pm

    You and my Mama are the only people I have heard use Suwanee! I Love it.

  34. Luis - March 26, 2019 1:35 am

    Just wondering if Myrtle has read this…..

  35. Gale Smith - April 22, 2019 1:15 pm

    Sean, you are one of the most specialest people in our lives. We love you and your Mom is proud of you….we all are!

  36. Brenda McLaine - April 22, 2019 4:25 pm

    Words of wisdom

  37. Mignon craft watson - April 23, 2019 2:01 am



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