My mother claims I never slept in a bed until I was three weeks old. I mostly slept in his arms. He would talk to me all night long in a whispered voice.

Alabama is playing Oklahoma University, and it is my birthday. And I am writing you.

As it happens, I was born during an Alabama game. Coach Bear Bryant’s final match. The Liberty Bowl was playing on the television in the corner of the delivery room the moment I drew breath.

The fighting Illini and the Crimson Tide were locked in heated battle. And by the third quarter, the doctor was holding me by the feet, swatting my white hindparts.

The score was 12 to 14. The University of Alabama was barely ahead.

They tell me that my father almost dropped me when Oliver Williams scored a touchdown for Illinois that nearly tied the game.

He was so upset that he removed his surgical cap, threw it on the ground, then shouted.

My mother says the first thing my infant ears heard was the voice of my father saying…

Well, use your imagination.

The truth is, my father hadn’t wanted kids when he was a younger man. That’s what my mother told me.

He’d had such a lousy upbringing that he wasn’t going to have children. The details don’t matter, but his childhood was no cakewalk.

But, his best friend’s three little daughters changed his mind. My mother says he came home one night from a barbecue and announced, “I wanna have a baby.”

My mother answered, “Great. Let me know if you need any help.”

They tried, but nothing happened. My mother had a two miscarriages. The doc told her she was barren.

Then, one day my mother saw a greasy televangelist on TV who hollered:

“There’s someone out there who wants a baby, God hears you! Believe, and ye shall have a child!”

That’s all it took. My mother learned she was pregnant with me shortly thereafter, and the televangelist went down in history for being a notorious larcenist.

After she gave birth, she handed me to my father and we became friends.

He carried me all over creation. She said he was so smitten with me that she only got to hold me twice during my first six years.

My mother claims I never slept in a bed until I was three weeks old. I mostly slept in his arms. He would talk to me all night long in a whispered voice.

Somewhere in my brain, those conversations are recorded.

When I was in third grade, I wrote my first book report on lined paper. I’ll never forget it. The report was about the Three Musketeers. My father was the first to read my words.

When he finished, he slapped the paper on the counter and said, “By God, you’re a writer! My son’s a writer!”

I got a ‘B’ on the report. My mother tells me that my father wanted to march into the school and raise Cain.

“That paper deserved an ‘A!’” he was shouting. “Why I oughta give that Methodist woman a piece of my mind!”

She also tells me that he took my book report to his jobsite and waved it around to all his friends, saying, “My son’s a writer!”

I don’t know if that’s true or not. But I like to think it is.

By my seventeenth birthday, my father had already been dead for five years. It was a dark birthday.

But my mother wasn’t about to let it stay that way. She made me call in sick for work. She took me to see a movie, then to a Mexican restaurant called Pepito’s. We ate chips and salsa until I almost passed out from a food coma.

I ordered the chimichanga. She ordered the fish. We ate, we laughed, it was a wonderful day.

When supper was over, I heard a sound from the back of the room. It was singing.

A group of cooks, waiters, waitresses, and dishwashers were marching toward me, clapping, singing in Spanish:

“Feliz cumpleaños a ti, feliz cumpleaños a ti!”

They placed a sombrero on my head, and a bowl of fried ice cream before me. When they finished, the whole restaurant applauded a redhead in an oversized hat.

My mother gave me a three twenty-dollar-bills in an envelope with my name on it.

She managed to turn a dark day into one of the highlights of my year.

When we got home that evening, there was a package, wrapped in a red ribbon, sitting on our kitchen table.

“What’s this?” I said to her.

“Open it,” she said.

It was an portable Olympia typewriter, in a black leather carrying case.

“It used to be mine,” she said. “A long time ago, but now it’s yours, since you’re a writer.”

We hugged. I cried, even though I didn’t mean to.

“Don’t cry, Sean,” she said. “Just promise me that one day, you’ll write something for me.”

And well, you just read that something.

48 comments

  1. Connie Havard Ryland - December 30, 2018 3:10 pm

    Happy birthday Sean. Your mom sounds like an amazing woman. Love and hugs to you all.

    Reply
  2. Peggy Savage - December 30, 2018 3:11 pm

    Have a wonderful day. Happy Birthday. …

    Reply
  3. Jack Quanstrum - December 30, 2018 3:11 pm

    Nice!

    Reply
  4. Darrell Dame - December 30, 2018 3:20 pm

    Very touching , Roll Tide

    Reply
  5. Liz Watkins - December 30, 2018 3:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing these memories! Happy Birthday Sean🎊🎂🎉🎊🎂🎉

    Reply
  6. Bev deJarnette - December 30, 2018 3:24 pm

    Happy Birthday a day late, but still a happy birthday wish even if it’s a day late! My brother and I watched Alabama play Oklahoma yesterday. Great game! Wish we all could have watched it together—-but you were writing a very precious note for your mom. Great job by the way😍❤️

    Reply
  7. Alice - December 30, 2018 3:42 pm

    Happy Birthday Sean God Bless you I love all your stories and especially the ones about your dogs love you and hope you come back to Dothan I would love to meet you❤️❤️

    Reply
  8. Kay Judice - December 30, 2018 3:50 pm

    Happy Birthday! 🎉

    Reply
  9. Edna B. - December 30, 2018 4:00 pm

    Happy Birthday Sean. You certainly were a very loved child! Such beautiful memories. I hope your day is simply awesome! Big hugs and woofs from me and Pogo. Edna B.

    Reply
  10. Marilyn - December 30, 2018 4:03 pm

    Happy Birthday, Sean. Keep on keeping on!!

    Reply
  11. Maureen A - December 30, 2018 4:05 pm

    Yes, you are definitely a writer Sean! Thank you. Happy Birthday! Happy New Year! And of course, ROLL TIDE

    Reply
  12. margefromnaturesgift - December 30, 2018 4:14 pm

    Happy New Year and Happy Birthday, Sean. You make our days better. (Tell me THAT is not a gift!)

    Reply
  13. Kristine Wehrheim - December 30, 2018 4:28 pm

    Happy Birthday Sean!

    Reply
  14. Karen Irby - December 30, 2018 4:35 pm

    Sean, a belated Happy Birthday to you! I guess you got a nice gift from Alabama, along with the rest of us.😊 I love the story of your birth day, and how much your Daddy loved you! I too had a Daddy who carried me around when I was little and I adored him. He’s been gone for 7 years now, and I miss him very much. I hope you and yours have a blessed new year, and I hope to see you again in 2019!

    Reply
  15. Kathy - December 30, 2018 4:57 pm

    Happy Birthday friend! Yes, I count you as a friend though we’ve never met. Thanks for writing. Please never stop.

    Reply
  16. Toni Tucker Locke - December 30, 2018 5:39 pm

    HaPpY, hApPy BiRtHdAy!

    Reply
  17. Shelton A. - December 30, 2018 6:10 pm

    Your Mom is touched and very proud of you!

    Reply
  18. Shelton A. - December 30, 2018 6:11 pm

    p.s. Happy Birthday, Sean, and many more!

    Reply
  19. Kathy Wolfe - December 30, 2018 6:16 pm

    Happy Birthday and many many more. Roll Tide!

    Reply
  20. Dianne Rathje - December 30, 2018 6:43 pm

    SINCERELY wishing you a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY Sean–and thank you for sharing all of your writings!

    Reply
  21. Jack Darnell - December 30, 2018 6:46 pm

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY DUDE! On my 17th BD I joined the USMC a day later I would have given ‘all my tomorrows for a typewriter instead.’ hahahaha
    Loved the read my friend. Keep it u and you will make mama proud! :-0, hahaha
    As always a good ‘un!

    Reply
  22. Judy Tayloe - December 30, 2018 6:57 pm

    Happy Birthday, Sean, and May you have many more!

    Reply
  23. Edith Clark - December 30, 2018 6:58 pm

    Happy Birthday Sean. I hope you have a great day

    Reply
  24. Pamela McEachern - December 30, 2018 7:21 pm

    Happy Birthday Dear Sean! Your Mama, Daddy, Wife, Sister and your big Blog of a family love your writing and hope all your wishes come true!

    Peace and Love from Birmingham RTR

    Reply
  25. Frieda Borntrager - December 30, 2018 7:38 pm

    Happy Birthday!

    Reply
  26. Betty - December 30, 2018 8:37 pm

    Happy birthday, Sean. If my aunt had been your mother she wouldn’t have allowed you to be born during the game. I’m sure she would have crossed her legs & refused to “push”. Thankfully your mother was more accommodating. And I’m sure she is very proud of you & your writing. You have brought such joy to so many people. Wish I had something to give you for your birthday but maybe my appreciation for your writing will be enough.

    Reply
  27. June - December 30, 2018 8:46 pm

    Happy Birthday Sean!

    Reply
  28. Carol Goodson - December 30, 2018 10:08 pm

    Sean! Almost everything you write makes me cry! You are such a gift to the world.

    Reply
  29. Gordon - December 30, 2018 10:15 pm

    Hoping you enjoyed a nice birthday yesterday, Sean. Alabama won, so I’m guessing it was a great day! Thanks for your continued great stories,
    many of them with life lessons. Happy 2019 also.

    Reply
  30. Brian Cardin - December 30, 2018 11:03 pm

    Mamas are God’s way of showing the love He intends us to have……Happy Birthday Sean….Even a Florida Gator appreciates a good Alabama football game….Roll tide!

    Reply
  31. Shirley Northington (Skelton) - December 30, 2018 11:05 pm

    I know your birthday was wonderful…..Jamie would make sure of that! Sorry I missed it, but happy late birthday!!

    Reply
  32. Joan Mitchell - December 30, 2018 11:07 pm

    Yes on your birthday you have given us a gift! And how wonderful that a grateful son can express his gratitude so beautifully.

    Reply
  33. S C Anderson - December 30, 2018 11:18 pm

    Great story!

    Reply
  34. Melanie - December 30, 2018 11:33 pm

    My birthday is Dec 29th. Happy Birthday from one December baby to another. ☺️

    Reply
  35. Linda Allen - December 30, 2018 11:36 pm

    Happy Birthday! I love reading your stories everyday and look forward to them! You are such a talented writer. Thank you.

    Reply
  36. Connie Johnson Brasher - December 31, 2018 12:34 am

    Happy Birthday. Your father was right. You are a writer. A wonderful one at that.

    Reply
  37. Mandy - December 31, 2018 12:46 am

    I’m from Indiana and just happened to pick up a copy of snowbird mag. At Dauphin Island visitor center and read your “Grandfathers and the gift of giving “ which peaked my interest in you. Your good. Your Daddy sounds like a gem and your Mom a jewel. Thankyou for your writings.

    Reply
  38. Debbie Beach - December 31, 2018 1:20 am

    I so love your style and emotions that overflow into my heart. Thank you

    Reply
  39. Janie F. - December 31, 2018 3:28 am

    Happy Birthday Sean! Your daddy knew you were a writer before you did. I love that! Also thank God for mama’s who believe their babies can do anything and encourage them to follow their dreams. That is truly PRICELESS!

    Reply
  40. Diana Sarafin - December 31, 2018 5:05 am

    Happy Birthday Sean! Thank you for fulfilling your daddy’s dream of you being a writer.

    Reply
  41. Sandi. - December 31, 2018 11:50 am

    Happy belated birthday, Sean, and may God bless you with MANY more. Also, happy 2019 as the new year unfurls. Looking forward to reading more of your daily posts, as always.

    Reply
  42. Barbara Mc - December 31, 2018 3:55 pm

    I enjoyed reading this so much better than watching Alabama beat Oklahoma. Happy birthday!!🎂

    Reply
  43. Barbara Bray - December 31, 2018 4:15 pm

    Happy h , Sean….you were destined to be a writer ..and you are ! Not many people can say they are fulfilling their destiny. Happy New Year, too .

    Reply
    • Barbara Bray - December 31, 2018 4:18 pm

      (see previous comment ) …..that is suppose to be BIRTHDAY ! ….you get the picture LOL…hope it is a Happy One ..!

      Reply
  44. Edy - December 31, 2018 4:49 pm

    You have a tender way with words.

    Reply
  45. Sheila - January 1, 2019 2:58 am

    Happiest of birthdays Sean!

    Reply
  46. Mary Ellen Hall - January 1, 2019 3:49 am

    HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, DEAR SEAN!!🎂
    HOPE your day was SPECIAL TIME spent w/ your SWEET WIFE, & FUN TIME spent w/ your PRECIOUS PUPS!🐶🐶

    Reply
  47. rantsandravescom - January 2, 2019 1:18 am

    I hope your birthday was a grand and that you have good health and fortune in the new year.

    Reply

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