I left a funeral. I was driving through the North Florida rain. My dogs were in the seat behind me.
It was a monsoon on the highway. I’m talking puddles the size of Lake Gertrude. Raindrops the size of Coke bottles.
Cars ahead had hazards flashing. Traffic was crawling. I held the wheel with both hands. A man in a truck sped around my vehicle. He almost amputated my side mirror.
The man’s tires kicked up a waterfall. I almost lost control. I couldn’t see. Horns honked. Tires squealed. I pulled onto the shoulder. I was rattled.
I loosened my necktie.
I don’t often wear neckties. But my mother would rather have her toenails removed with tongs than discover her son attended a funeral with an open collar.
My hands were shaking. My stomach was sick. I was lucky to be alive.
I spotted a dirt road ahead—off the main highway. A small pathway, running into the woods. Against my better judgement I took the forest road.
It ran me through the acres of pines, over bumps and rocks. There were deep ruts in the road. Ruts which had turned into miniature rivers of orange mud.
Thelma Lou (bloodhound) and Otis (alleged Labrador) sat at attention. They are like most dogs; they are connoisseurs of mud.
The desolate roads were unmarked, and I was in no hurry to get back on the highway. So I drove. And drove.
And it hit me: this was fun.
Furthermore, this was high-quality mud. Not that thin stuff that passes for mud on TV. This stuff was top shelf. I started smiling more than a grown man ought to.
That’s when I stumbled upon it. The Mother of All Mud Holes.
It was an empty lot, pristine mud, without tire tracks or obstacles. Only flat, sprawling soup. It called to me.
Thelma howled—which is dog-language for, “Do it, Daddy-O! Do it!” It is a well-documented fact that all dogs call their masters “Daddy-O.”
I don’t know what came over me. I’m middle-aged, with a back surgery and arthritis in my feet. Nevertheless, life is short.
I threw my truck into low gear. I hung my necktie on my rearview mirror. We zipped down a hill, then up another. Then we turned circles, like kids on a merry-go-round. A big, fast, Ford-manufactured, V6, fuel-injected, muddy merry-go-round.
I fishtailed, slinging mud. I whooped and hollered. Long ago, I did this very thing as a teenager. And I forgot how glorious it was.
Finally, I shut off the truck. I kicked open the door. My canine fugitives ran free. Two dogs bolted, full speed. And in only moments, they were covered in slop. A lot of wrestling happened. And laughing. I had the time of my life.
When I got home, my wife saw me step out of the truck. My nice clothes were covered in brown. My dogs looked like crud-covered demonic footmen. She almost had a heart attack.
“What happened to you?” she said.
“We took a shortcut,” I said.
I washed the dogs with a hose. My wife sprayed me with a hose. We ate cornbread and pinto beans for supper. We played cards.
I don’t know why I even told you this. Who really cares? So I played in the mud. Big whoop.
I suppose I am thinking that life is short. And one day it will be my funeral. And I know that on that day, people will probably attend with sad faces—like the service I visited this afternoon. Maybe it will even be raining.
But if you come to my last goodbye, do not cry for me. Because I will be in a big, muddy place. With my dogs. And loved ones. And my truck will have a new body, and a new transmission.
I am grateful for my family, no matter how small we are. For my wife. And for our little trailer home—with an antenna poking from the top, and a microwave that almost electrocuted me yesterday.
I am grateful for rain. And mud. And every miniscule thing I don’t always notice.
I am grateful for fun. For laughing. And for the way a simple feeling can be so good it makes you cry. You might be wondering what the point is to all this. Here it is:
Thank you for letting me live another day, Lord.
Also, do not wear a necktie to my funeral.
Karen Greatrix - September 6, 2018 5:29 am
Don’t wear one to mine either, in fact skip it and go play in the mud.
Denise - September 6, 2018 5:31 am
Another good one. Playfulness is important.
Pamela McEachern - September 6, 2018 5:33 am
Dear Sean thank you for this piece, people are so uptight it is pitiful. I loved your pure joy with your pups. That’s what I think Heaven will be.BTW I have a new microwave in the box in my basement…don’t ask why just come by and pick it up with your sweet family. I have a huge yard that is fenced.
Peace and Love from Birmingham
Rebecca Kinard - September 6, 2018 5:35 am
I don’t want a funeral, there is no need for one, nobody will come. I just won’t to go to heaven today! Sooner the better.
Marsha Wigren - September 6, 2018 6:55 am
So many reminders today that happiness does not have a retail value and we can all afford it if we open our eyes and heart to them. From my beautiful curly haired red- headed granddaughter’s giggles to the stray cat I’ve been feeding who really belongs to someone and showed up at the food dish sporting a brand new shave haircut. These are the things I love and I’m happy someone else sees the value in them, too. Thank you, Sean
James E Godwin - September 6, 2018 7:15 am
Good one Sean, and I LOVE the ending!
GaryD - September 6, 2018 9:35 am
Dogs at a funeral? Whoever the guest of honor was must have been a mighty fine person! Thanks for a great story. Now I’m gonna go find me a dirt road to ride on.
Kelly - September 6, 2018 10:06 am
Great story, Sean. Thank you once again for early morning smiles!
Debra GAMBLE - September 6, 2018 10:15 am
Thanks for reminding us to remember to play ☺
Linda - September 6, 2018 11:16 am
Thank you Sean, you are a blessing to so many…
I hope you know that …..
Connie - September 6, 2018 11:28 am
For me the point was take the backroads and savor the moments…?
Cathi - September 6, 2018 11:40 am
Dogs without neckties at funerals??? I think that’s a great idea! Sean, maybe your next career could be funeral director! ? Life is so short, anything fun is important!
Rhonda Howell - September 6, 2018 11:50 am
Any day you have to get a hose bath is either a good day or a heck of a story! And you can always blame it on the dogs. They don’t even care! Mud is legal in a dog’s world. My Granny Grunt who raised 10, and helped raise 28 grands would tell us all the time….”When I go, Want ya’ll to have a big ole party and shout it loud, That woman is finally gonna get some rest!” By the way we hold the Georgia State record for the number of people in a mobile home at Christmas….. 52!
Rhonda Howell - September 6, 2018 11:53 am
Oh I almost forgot! Happy Birthday Granny! I miss your hugs most of all. 9/6/1925
LARRY WALL - September 6, 2018 8:50 pm
Happy Birthday to your beautiful Granny Howell. She must have been a good woman and very deserving of Heaven.
Patricia Schmaltz - September 6, 2018 11:53 am
Sean, I have been told that to be able to enjoy the simple things in life is a great gift. You are certainly gifted in more than one way. Enjoy the rain! I’ll be having fun watching the hummingbirds swoop.
Mary K. Allen - September 6, 2018 12:09 pm
You’re just a big ole kid, Sean, or maybe you were a dog in another life. I love you for it!
Rebya Falk - September 6, 2018 12:11 pm
Sean, Just found you yesterday! Thanks for the laugh!
Dianne - September 6, 2018 12:39 pm
Thank you for reminding us all that we’re never too old to enjoy playing in the mud. What a great stress reliever and reminder of the gift of fun.
Brenda McLaine - September 6, 2018 12:49 pm
Laugh and play while you can and there is still time.
Jackye Thompson - September 6, 2018 12:59 pm
Amen Sean .Loved your mud hole story.Wish I hAd one.My dog,Tiim would love to run and play in one.me too.
Carol - September 6, 2018 1:09 pm
AMEN! You’re a Blessing and thank you for your wonderful stories. You come right after my devotional’s!!
Keep being a child playing in the rain & mud!!
Marcia Miley - September 6, 2018 1:24 pm
I loved this. It really touched me. I lost one of my dearest friends back in May to cancer. It has made me realize that life is short . So I’m trying to laugh more, enjoy life more and be sure to let those I love know what they mean to me. Most of all when I think of my sweet friend, I want cry I’ll be happy and remember all our great times together. The best part is… I’ll see her again.
Heidi - September 6, 2018 1:28 pm
Dang….what a great adventure. I haven’t played in years…..am thinking I need to find a good mud hole or something.
Connie Havard Ryland - September 6, 2018 1:37 pm
Awesome story this morning. Thanks for the smiles. Love and hugs.
Peggy Savage - September 6, 2018 1:57 pm
Sitting here in my favorite coffee shop in Mobile reading your great story. Funny thing is this coffee shop is named Carpe Diem, meaning seize the day. That’s exactly what you and your furkids did. You seized the moment and lived it fully. Good job. Thanks for sharing…
Kathy Daum - September 6, 2018 2:34 pm
My grandson Emmet and I walk through puddles when it rains. And play in Mud! We definitely seize the moment.
Cindy - September 6, 2018 4:45 pm
Love your posts. This one is very special to my heart ❤️
Shelton Armour - September 6, 2018 4:50 pm
I do not share your joy of mud but I’m glad you do and got to enjoy it with Thelma and Otis, I do not blame Jamie for using the hose on you. I get that. The dogs probably enjoyed getting hosed off. No tie-got it. What a relief that is. I hate those things-but I also had a mom and do have a big sister) who would whomp me a good one for no tie. But you’ve excused me, so I appreciate that. What about jackets?
Gwen - September 6, 2018 4:50 pm
O,I’m so glad I’m not the only one that has this feeling after a funeral!!! I’m still living!!! Make it good!!! Thanks Sean
Betty F. - September 6, 2018 4:53 pm
Another good reminder for the perspective we all seem to have lost- on both sides of the political aisle.
Edna B. - September 6, 2018 5:45 pm
Awesome story!! We all need to play more. Wen we were little kids, we all went out to play in the warm rain and sometimes with a bar of soap and a wash cloth. Your wife is an angel. You have a super day, hugs, Edna B.
dj - September 6, 2018 5:54 pm
Susan Swiderski - September 6, 2018 6:38 pm
Sometimes, the greatest joy is to be found in the detours. Thanks for taking us to the mudhole with you.
Linda Chipman - September 6, 2018 9:41 pm
Sometimes taking the road less traveled is the right thing to do.
Judy Broussard - September 6, 2018 10:27 pm
Loved this article. I am 78 years and sometimes you just need a good mud ride
Jack Darnell - September 6, 2018 10:45 pm
You ain’t right………… there I just said it. 😉 I am nearly 80, I wasn’t planning to wear a tie to your going away, anyway! just sayin!
Janice Andrews - September 6, 2018 11:03 pm
Keep having fun and taking those off the main road pig trails.
Jack Quanstrum - September 7, 2018 1:15 am
Great story! Thank you. Great message. Whatever one’s mud is just do it. Live each day to fullest!
Kitty D - September 7, 2018 3:29 am
Great story with a timely reminder to stop and smell the roses, mud, whatever makes us feel like the carefree kids we once were. And by the way… I love your description of Otis, “alleged Labrador”. I keep chuckling at the thought of him looking at you as if to say, “What do you mean, ‘alleged’?”
Stuart - September 7, 2018 4:12 am
I lived most of my life on a dirt road and have a great fondness for old trucks, dirt roads and good dogs. But we won’t want, need or have any of those things in heaven. We’ll have it far better than that. We’ll have our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is all we will need and we’ll be satisfied.
Beth Reed - September 8, 2018 6:17 am
Oh Sean I am so glad that you told us this story. Your life is just as important as the others you write about and it makes you seem more human when you talk about yourself, Jamie and the pups…
Stopping to smell the roses or in your case to play in the mud is FUN…. You have to let go and just give in to life or it will leave you behind.
Pinto beans and corn bread. Ohhh YUM I’m putting a pan of pintos on the stove tomorrow. It’s been so dang hot here I try not cook but geeze I want some now.
Keep writing about your life. We love getting a glimpse of how you live. Beth Reed
Roxanne - September 8, 2018 8:08 pm
When I was a kid, my Daddy had a new oxidation pond dug for the septic system. It was naturally lined with Louisiana buckshot clay, and it wasn’t in operation yet, so my brother, sister, and I spend a very fun day sliding down the sides to the bottom in the rain. We were covered in red mud from head to toe, and Momma hosed us all down before we could go inside, but I still remember that day!
Melanie - September 9, 2018 2:00 am
Dirt roads, rain, old trucks, dogs…sounds like heaven to me. ❤️
unkle Kenny - November 2, 2018 2:34 pm
i miss a good mudding road , in the name of civilization aka stop kids from having fun with mud , they have paved the roads of my youth . our gang of 3 was crusing down a field road which is the dirt trail the tractors use . my buddy dared me to get off the road , bam we were jipping along in the thin mud sheet that had been a peanut patch……untill we spun to a stop. a mile walk back to get a trator only resulted in us bringing back a shovel and rake. one fellow would dig a groove in front of tires , other one raked peanut straw in front of tires ..then they pushed from behind till we got moving , then i sprayed them head to toe with mud as i exited back to field road . it was a glorious day .i miss them when it rains . uk
Gladys R Harris - November 2, 2018 2:50 pm
Soo enjoyed this..Thanks Sean. Your writtings are wonderful