Sweet Tea Fruit Jar

I remember my pal's daddy saying, "It's the damnedest thing, when you're dying you pray for lots of miracles—what you get is lots of people.”

We’re at a gas-station-barbecue-joint, a wooden shack that’s seen better days. We’re the only ones in the place. The waitress serves me tea in a pickle jar which still has the Vlasic label on it.

You don’t see that sort of thing anymore.

The truth is, I come from a long line of quart-jar aficionados. My grandaddy sipped a jar on weekends, holidays, fishing trips, and baby dedications. My father also had a collection for special occasions—stored in the shed rafters above the tractor. I wasn’t supposed to know about those.

I did.

Once, my friend and I sampled the contents. We climbed into the rafters. He took a swig and coughed.

“It burns,” he said.

A few seconds later, he fell off the beam onto the dirt. When I asked if he was alright, he laughed, saying, “I never felt gooder!”

That kid is a missionary now.

It doesn’t end there. My environmentally-minded wife carries a quart-jar of water in her purse—instead of a plastic bottle. Once, to be funny, I drew three X’s on the front.

During a church service, in Wetumpka, Alabama, a ravenous case of cottonmouth overcame her. She unscrewed the lid, then turned it upside down. This drew wide-eyed looks from nearly everyone in Elmore County. Including the preacher.

The man beside me whispered, “Pass it this’a way, son.”

When I was a boy, my friend’s family drank from quart jars. Mama said it was because they couldn’t afford tableware. When my friend’s father developed prostate cancer, churchgoers took turns delivering groceries.

My father made a delivery once, they invited us inside their shotgun house. My friend’s daddy accepted the bags and said, “If there’s ever any way I can repay you, don’t hesitate. I may be sick, but I can work.”

Well, that man helped us install a thirteen-acre fence, once. Daddy tried to pay him; he refused. Later that afternoon, they sipped tea from fruit jars and laughed until sundown.

I remember my pal’s daddy saying, “It’s the damnedest thing, when you’re dying you pray for lots of miracles—what you get is lots of people.”

I can’t seem to forget that.

I saw that friend recently. When I asked about his daddy, he said, “Oh, Daddy’s great, he just had a birthday.”

Then he added, “Hey, remember when your daddy dropped off all those groceries? Did you know, he put packs of baseball cards in there too?”

As it happens, I didn’t.

I took my tea to-go.

They let me keep the jar.


  1. John Miller - July 31, 2016 3:47 pm

    In a normal day I find myself hitting the delete button over and over and over on my daily influx of new emails. My finger comes to sudden halt when I see “Sean of the South.” I am grateful for my friend Steve Latham, who first shared one of your stories. I was hooked!
    You make me laugh, you make me think, you make my eyes water, you make me reflect on my own childhood and you simply make my day a little better.

  2. Susan Tidwell - August 1, 2016 3:21 pm

    LOVE your stories, they are so real, and funny, and get me right here (hand over heart), and just the right size for a quick morning read. Thanks so much for sharing them. I also love your illustrations, do you do those yourself? Have a great day!

  3. Jamey Sean Darnell - March 24, 2017 12:40 am

    You inspire me, and give me hope…….


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