The sun is low, the gnats are out. A barbecue grill is smoking with pecan wood. My wife is asleep in a lawn chair. She is out like a porch light.
Thelma Lou, the bloodhound, lies beside me, chewing on a two-by-four she found.
I’m cooking Chicken à la Beer Can for supper. I’m using my uncle’s secret recipe.
I remember when he would cook this chicken dish long ago. He’d smear on the seasoning, shove a Budweiser can up the carcass, and (voila!) redneck gourmet.
Pecan smoke during my childhood was always accompanied by stories. I’m talking big tales told by men with gray hair who held sweaty cans and wore jeans during the summer.
It would’ve been blasphemy to sit before a fire pit without stories.
So I need a story to go with this pecan smoke. After all, it’s part of my ancestry. Let’s see here…
I’ll tell you about this sleeping woman.
Our first phone conversation lasted nearly two hours. We were strangers then.
That night on the phone, I hardly spoke. She used enough words for both of us. I did, however, manage to ask her to be my plus-one at a friend’s wedding in Birmingham. She agreed.
The next Friday, I wore khakis and a necktie. My mother remarked that she’d never seen me wear a necktie of my own volition.
I used cologne, too.
The cologne had been my father’s. The irony here is that my father was not a cologne man. Still, on my twelfth birthday, he gave me a bottle of French toilet water. For years, I wondered why he did this—since we weren’t toilet-water people.
I asked why he did that.
“Because,” Daddy said, “One day, you’ll be around some girl you REALLY like, and you’ll wanna smell fancy. Trust me.”
So this girl showed up at my apartment, driving her mother’s green Oldsmobile. She was wearing a black dress.
She sniffed the air, then coughed. “You smell like you…” she said.
“Thanks,” I said.
“I can’t breathe,” she said.
We rode four hours toward Magic City with the windows down.
The wedding ceremony was in a big, old, tall, scary-looking church. When the preacherman said, “kiss the bride,” I heard sniffing from the girl beside me. I started sniffing, too.
Weddings do that to me.
The reception was at a fancy restaurant. They barely served enough finger food to say grace over. The DJ played ear-splitting music, everyone shook their hindparts in rhythm. Everyone except me.
I don’t dance. I wish I could, but I was raised Southern Baptist. My dancing muscles are underdeveloped. When I try to dance, I look like the lovechild of Barney Fife and Eleanor Roosevelt.
The girl and I snuck away from the party early. We found a Mexican restaurant nearby. We sat on a patio. We talked. This girl knows how to talk.
Give her ten minutes and she could make pleasant conversation with an IRS agent.
After our meal, I drove us home. She fell asleep in the passenger seat. Her head rested against the window. She held my hand. And I felt invincible.
I rode I-65 in a dumb daze. Now and then, I’d glance at her, sleeping.
Love didn’t happen the way I thought it would. I thought it would be fireworks and nuclear explosions. It was more like watching ten acres of daisies bloom on a hillside. It was gentle and easy.
I asked that girl to marry me. Mercifully, she agreed. We’ve been married for fifteen years. She has made me who I am. Without her, you wouldn’t be reading this. Without her, I wouldn’t be writing at all.
I still can’t dance worth a cuss, and I don’t touch cologne.
Sometimes I wish I had more to give this woman than a trailer home, a dog, and barbecued beer-can chicken.
But I guess this story will have to do.
I love you, Jamie.
Karen Greatrix - May 7, 2018 5:48 am
What a loving tribute, I think those words would mean more then just about anything. I know anything my husband writes for me makes me feel very special.
Jon Dragonfly - May 7, 2018 6:02 am
“Love didn’t happen the way I thought it would. I thought it would be fireworks and nuclear explosions. It was more like watching ten acres of daisies bloom on a hillside. It was gentle and easy.” – – – Now I know why I like your writing so much. You have put into words what I have been trying to say for fifty-four years.
Nancy - May 7, 2018 9:52 am
I believe your Jamie is content with what you’ve given her – a deep, never ending love. Thank you for your beautiful words that always make my mornings better.
Cathi - May 7, 2018 10:08 am
You apparently have worked it out perfectly for the two of you and it can’t be any better than that.
Buddy King - May 7, 2018 10:21 am
I understand how you feel! I have a wife that is an Angel and encourages me everyday. Sean like you, I am a blessed man!
Debbie - May 7, 2018 11:21 am
What a sweet tribute to your wife….!
Donna - May 7, 2018 11:21 am
Jamie is a blessed woman to have found someone who loves her so much!
Leigh in stone mountain - May 7, 2018 11:30 am
I suspect you have given her far more than you realize. ❤️
LeAnne Martin - May 7, 2018 11:36 am
Sean, I love this: “It was more like watching ten acres of daisies bloom on a hillside. It was gentle and easy.” Beautiful!
Harriet - May 7, 2018 11:59 am
Love is like watching ten acres of daisies blooming on a hillside. I can see that and love it. I’m dying at the image of Eleanor Roosevelt and Barney Fife. Thanks for the early morning smile/laugh.
ginger blalock - May 7, 2018 12:08 pm
That made me smile and made my heart puff up. I have a single son (age 31), and I hope and pray he finds someone as you did….I so want him to feel the feeling you described. Thank you for sharing that beautiful love story.
Heidi - May 7, 2018 12:18 pm
I suspect you’ve figured out by now that it’s not about how fancy your home is or how much material stuff you have, it’s about that daisy blooming, deep abiding love. It’s about that puppy on her lap in the car and sharing the death of a very loved bloodhound. Bless you both.
Kathy G. - May 7, 2018 12:23 pm
I love you and Jamie, too. Oh, and your new puppy! Thanks for brightening my mornings, Sean.
Judy - May 7, 2018 12:43 pm
Amen to all the other comments and, believe it or not, the Best is yet to come.
Melanie Tighe - May 7, 2018 12:46 pm
Sean she is a smart woman. You have given her the best that life has to offer and she is well aware. You both are very blessed. ❤️
Lisa Perkins - May 7, 2018 12:57 pm
I just love your writing! You brighten my mornings. I have to say that you are both blessed to have each other ?
Connie Havard Ryland - May 7, 2018 1:00 pm
You touch my heart every single day. You two are so lucky to have each other.
Laura - May 7, 2018 1:30 pm
You don’t know me well enough to trust me (we did meet that one time in Montgomery when you spoke), but trust me when I say this- You and Jaime are perfect for each other and she doesn’t love you for what you give her (except for love). It’s funny how we wish we could give more to those we love and the truth is none of that matters. She loves you for who you are and what kind of person you are. You are one sensitive, special person- and not just to Jaime! I am glad she made you what you are because, without her doing that, I wouldn’t have you to cheer me and make me cry and smile and all every day! Love you, Sean
kathdedon - May 7, 2018 1:38 pm
I just loved reading this today, on our 35th wedding anniversary! Thank you! <3
Heather Miller - May 7, 2018 2:16 pm
What you have given Jamie can’t be bought. I’m pretty certain she wouldn’t trade what you two have between you for the Taj Mahal. Perfect example of Yin and Yang.
Nix LaVerdi - May 7, 2018 2:33 pm
All You Need Is Love. Beautiful, Sean.
Bruce Stover - May 7, 2018 3:18 pm
Jack Quanstrum - May 7, 2018 3:24 pm
Your a lucky dog!
Edna B. - May 7, 2018 3:39 pm
Sean, this is beautiful. You and Jamie are so lucky to share such a blessed love. Love isn’t things, it’s a feeling deep inside. It’s the warmth and trust between you. Add one Thelma Lou, and you’ve got it all. You have an awesome day, hugs, Edna B.
Janet Mary Lee - May 7, 2018 4:00 pm
Each other…that is what you have, and I hope you never ever forget ! My love to two sensitive people who were made for each other by a very special God. Care for each other always!! ((hugs!)). Sniff….
Barbara Schweck - May 7, 2018 4:41 pm
You are both blessed!
Dianne Correll - May 7, 2018 4:42 pm
Y’all are great for each other!!
Garnet Faulkner - May 7, 2018 4:47 pm
It was more like watching ten acres of daisies bloom on a hillside. It was gentle and easy….I just don’t know what to say except those are the most beautiful sentences I’ve read in a long time!
Maxine - May 7, 2018 5:05 pm
Sean you are a one in a million MILLION DOLLAR MAN. And Jamie knows exactly what she has where ever you two live. Priceless love and respect. Bless both of you and keep writing for all of us.
muthahun - May 7, 2018 6:19 pm
Well done. You AND the chicken!
Chuck Gerlach - May 7, 2018 8:26 pm
I’ll bet 95% of the wives who live in in $500,000 fancy homes are considerably less blessed and loved than your bride.
Susan - May 8, 2018 1:35 am
Marty from Alabama - May 8, 2018 2:00 am
What a sweet letter for Jamie. She will fall in love with you all over again. God sure knew who to send you and I don’t mean Thelma Lou. Then is a good dog and friend. But she’s not Jamie.
Donna D. - May 8, 2018 2:26 am
Okay, I’ve fallen out of my chair laughing TWICE in this piece…love child of Barney Fife and Eleanor Roosevelt. Help us all. I needed to laugh and to smile and to be in awe of this love letter to Jamie. Thank you for sharing these glimpses of you and your love for your wife.
Keep writing. We need you.
Keloth A Thompson - July 6, 2018 9:54 am
Thank you for always making my day brighter ?
I love your writings and how wonderful to have a love like you and Jamie have❤️
Thelma Lou found a great home
Terri - July 6, 2018 12:51 pm
Sean, your writing makes my heart happy. Love you.
Anita Ryan - July 6, 2018 7:55 pm
Another beautiful story. Love your description of falling in love, Sean….soft and gentle!