Thanks

This week alone, I received letters from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Chanute, Kansas; Oswego, New York; and Atlanta, Georgia.

Today, I got home to find my mail-lady stuffing my mailbox, using her fist to cram letters and manila envelopes in the government-approved receptacle.

That poor woman. She’s having a hard time because our mailbox was the recent victim of “mailbox baseball,” which is a game played during the summer months.

The rules of the game are loose, but it involves speeding cars filled with teenagers beating the tar out of innocent mailboxes.

The object of this game is: Any teenager who awakes the next morning and still remembers what happened the night before, wins.

Because of this, our beat-up mailbox looks more like a mutant metal pancake with a flag attached.

I need to install a new box, but I kind of like the character our dented mailbox has. It seems to scream to the world, “Hey, look at me! I’m lopsided! When it rains the mail gets wet!”

My mail lady hates our mailbox. She tells me it is one of the top four things that causes her high blood pressure. The top item on her list is her mother-in-law in Tampa.

I receive a lot of mail. Which is a new thing for me. Used to, nobody wrote me but Ed McMahon and the IRS. But now I get mail from all over, sometimes from exotic countries like Canada.

Today, I got a letter from Jacksonville, from a woman I met a few weeks ago. It was a very touching letter. I cried when I read it.

I also got a letter from a man named Myron, who is from Tacoma, Washington, whose father just died.

This week alone, I received letters from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Chanute, Kansas; Oswego, New York; and Atlanta, Georgia.

Most of my letters, however, come from Alabama. I am fortunate to call Alabama my adopted home away from home. Last week, I got several letters from Birmingham, a handful from Dothan, a couple from Montgomery, one from Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Oxford, Slocumb, and one from Slapout.

I read them all. Every single one. Every single word.

So that’s why I am writing this. This column is a response to anyone who has ever taken the time to send me a letter, an email, a package, a book, or—as in the incident of January ‘17—has attempted to enter my house without permission. This is for you.

DEAR FRIEND:

Do you know how special you are? I don’t know if you do. I wish you did.

You sent me a box containing four jars of pickles. One jar was so spicy I lost nerve sensation on my tongue for three months.

You carved a walking stick with quotes from famous American authors on it.

You sent me past issues of M.A.D. Magazine, and old Superman comics.

You are a ninety-one-year-old from Louisiana, who wrote me a letter that smelled like perfume.

You are the woman from Auburn, who sent me a poster of Willie Nelson,

You are the kid from Andalusia who sent me a letter requesting prayer for his mother’s breast cancer.

The woman who finally got the courage to leave her abusive husband in South Carolina.

I’m sorry I don’t have enough hours in the day to write each of you in pen. Believe me, this feels like a poor substitute. But I hope you know that I mean the following statement from the bottom of my heart:

Thank you.

My life was sort of gray and blah before I met you. Before you, I was not an optimist, I believed that the world was one-dimensional, and I thought the odds were stacked against me.

But then came you. I don’t know how we met, and it doesn’t matter. We know each other now, somehow, and we like each other.

Maybe you gave me a thumbs-up online, or a wink, or you clicked “like,” or you shared something I wrote with your grandmother, your grandson, your father, mother, sister, support group, book club, or Yorkie Poo.

Maybe you cut out my article and stuck it to your refrigerator. I don’t know. But I do know a few things:

1. You have terrible taste in writers.

2. I am a terrible writer.

3. We are a match made in heaven.

You didn’t think you were doing anything important. You thought you were just being nice, sending me a message. But you were doing more than that.

You blew the dust off my entire world and made me believe in something again. In my mind I have always felt like nothing. But today I am a nothing with friends. Which makes me feel like something.

You were the elderly Presybyterian minister who wrote, “I’m proud of you, Sean.”

You were the letter written from a fourteen-year-old who ran away, but decided to go back home.

You were the teenage kid I met last weekend, in Birmingham. Whose mother died in a car accident.

The little girl with brain cancer.

I wish I could hug every one of you because I am a big hugger. And I wish we could hold each other for awhile and talk. But until then, I guess these feeble words will have to do.

I love you.

More than you will ever know.

And now I am going to repair my mailbox.

54 comments

  1. Lucretia - July 27, 2019 7:06 am

    Thanks to you Sean, I feel loved every time I read your magical words. I love you.

    Reply
  2. Nell Thomas - July 27, 2019 7:46 am

    Your stories are ones that touch our hearts and we can often relate to. Thanks from Mississippi.

    Reply
  3. Mary Ellen Hall - July 27, 2019 9:43 am

    SO VERY BEAUTIFUL SEAN!!!? I WISH I COULD HUG YOU ALSO!!!☺ I TOO am a BIG HUGGER!! I am an ETERNAL PESSIMIST, & YOU are DEFINITELY TURNING that AROUND-THANK YOU!! I LOVE reading your stories everyday, they warm my heart!! ❤ Your AMAZING GIFT is without a doubt, a HUGE BLESSING in my life!!
    LOOKING FORWARD TO TOMORROW’S STORY!!?

    THANKS SEAN, MARY ELLEN HALL
    TEXAS

    Reply
  4. Camille - July 27, 2019 9:50 am

    We love you more, Sean!

    Reply
    • Kate Illig - July 27, 2019 2:31 pm

      Sean, I wonder how many other women (besides your lovely wife ) have fallen in love with you? Cuz I sure have! Thank you for your beautiful uplifting stories. I love you ❤️

      Reply
  5. Meredith Smith - July 27, 2019 10:08 am

    Dear Sean,
    I would never dream of writing you at your home, even if I had your home address. But like the boy from Andalusia I too have asked for prayers for my mom with Stage 4 breast cancer cancer – via this forum.

    I believe you read your replies to this column… ?

    Reply
  6. Ange Ingram - July 27, 2019 10:19 am

    I wouldn’t get in a hurry to repair the mailbox. 1. Summer isn’t over 2. You’re soon going to start receiving your mail in large post office bags. That’s how much people who have yet to learn of you will tell you they love you right back. And, here’s a virtual hug: OOOOO Thanks for being you and writing. It’s damned hard. I know.

    Reply
  7. Debbie Cloud - July 27, 2019 10:44 am

    I love you too, Sean!

    Reply
  8. Angela - July 27, 2019 11:01 am

    Keep writing Sean! I’ll keep sharing your books! You have things to say the world needs to hear!

    – books_coffee_life

    Reply
  9. Debbie Beach from Bushnell, Fl - July 27, 2019 11:08 am

    You warm my heart which warms my days and nights. I love you so much my friend, so very very much ???

    Reply
  10. Judy Kirkpatrick - July 27, 2019 11:16 am

    And i love you too, Sean. If I ever get a chance, I will give you a hug.

    Reply
  11. Jean - July 27, 2019 11:17 am

    One and two are not true…You are a fabulous writer with lots and lots of friends. Please count me in as one! Love you! PS my mailbox has been run over 2 times…

    Reply
  12. Teri - July 27, 2019 11:18 am

    And I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to my friend and me the other week when we drove down your street just to see where you live. You pleasantly surprised us when you appeared out of nowhere. We promised we were not stalking you?. You gave us a hug, took pictures with us, signed books, and introduced us to Thelma Lou and Jamie. You truly walk the talk. I look forward every day to waking up and reading your post. It always puts a smile on my face or a tear in my eye. Either way I am ready to start my day. There is one thing though that my fiend and I regret when we met you, we didn’t do a selfie including Jamie. After talking to you both, it is easy to see how much you love each other. Keep posting and God bless you.

    Teri
    Destin, Florida

    Reply
  13. turtlekid - July 27, 2019 11:52 am

    Dear Sean Paul, I assume you read the comments that are posted on Facebook, and here as well! You are too modest and humble to acknowledge how much you are cherished!! I have never met you, and doubt I ever will, but reading posts of those who have met you makes me feel that I have as well. How do people even know where you live??

    Reply
  14. Sheri Smith - July 27, 2019 11:59 am

    I’m a new fan, introduced by a very special former neighbor. I too am adopted into the family of Alabama. Lived there most of my life. My kids were born there. I still live close and return to Birmingham to see my youngest child. Thank you for cheering up my days. You are #1.

    Reply
  15. Darla - July 27, 2019 12:01 pm

    You are everything that is good about the South. Thank you for representing us so well!

    Reply
  16. Joe Patterson - July 27, 2019 12:11 pm

    Thanks for being you

    Reply
  17. Janie F. - July 27, 2019 12:26 pm

    Thank you Sean for this and everything you write. You are the best writer, the kind who touches hearts and makes people think! We love you ?

    Reply
  18. Bobbie - July 27, 2019 12:31 pm

    Love you too Sean❤️ I was a lot like you when I was young, never felt good enough, just something missing. Am much better now, thank God and the many friends He’s brought into my life, you included.
    Please know how special you are. Read the letter you wrote this morning to yourself. It also applies to you. Would love to sit down and talk with you but that’s will never happen ….will have to be content with online conversation. Have a blessed and awesome day?‼️

    Reply
  19. Monika - July 27, 2019 12:40 pm

    I’ve just started following your blog because a nice lady in Freeport FL posted something you wrote about growing up in Freeport. I loved your writing, your sense of humor and your memories! I think you’d be surprised by Freeport if you came to visit…and btw, we visit Nicks in the stix on a regular basis, best fried shrimp around!

    Reply
  20. LBJ - July 27, 2019 12:55 pm

    One of the best parts of being a kindergarten teacher was being able to hug my students and tell them I loved them.
    This summer I went to the wake of one of my student’s grandfather & another for a sweet mama. My “kindergarten babies” & assorted family members found me in line. So many hugs, love and tears!!
    Hugs: one giant size fits all.
    ❤️

    Reply
  21. Marge - July 27, 2019 1:08 pm

    Dear Sean, You bring LIFE into my hands each morning. My husband of 56 years has died and I miss our early morning talks. So now, I read your stories and it seems like I am back at our kitchen table with someone I so enjoy spending time with! Thanks for being my new best friend.

    Marge in Woodbury, MN

    Reply
  22. Linda - July 27, 2019 1:18 pm

    Sean, I wish I knew something to help your self esteem, just a little bit. Other than that, you are almost perfect. You are kind, loving, encouraging, sweet, gracious, amiable, sympathetic, inspiring, creative, perceptive, intelligent, and the kind of man a person would be proud to call “son.” In fact, you are very much like my own son, Matt. I love reading what you have written each day, and I am a retired English teacher. I only had one student who could write as well as you do, and he was in the advanced placement college prep class. He is now a professor in England. What you actually have is a gift from God.

    Reply
    • Grace - July 27, 2019 2:24 pm

      ??????????

      Reply
  23. lisa - July 27, 2019 1:46 pm

    Dear Sean,

    This letter is from Wicksburg, Alabama, about 9 miles north of SLOCOMB.

    Reply
  24. Linda - July 27, 2019 2:32 pm

    Put up a larger mailbox!

    Reply
  25. That's jack - July 27, 2019 2:38 pm

    Okay dude I was with you and believed the stuff until I read:
    You were the elderly Presybyterian minister who wrote, “I’m proud of you, Sean.”
    ……….. Them guys of the cloth should know better, just sayin’.

    But honestly, I did enjoy the read. But truthfully famous folk are supposed to have bigger mail boxes! ;=)
    Sherry & jack, in North Carolina

    Reply
  26. That's jack - July 27, 2019 2:40 pm

    PS: Sorry about the ‘buts’, truthfully and honestly usage. I need a proofer…

    Reply
  27. Carolyn - July 27, 2019 2:45 pm

    Thank you Sean for making me want to be a better person……sending you a hug.

    Reply
  28. Don Daniel - July 27, 2019 2:47 pm

    Thank you. You make my day every morning.

    Reply
  29. Patricia Payne - July 27, 2019 2:55 pm

    Just finished Stars of Alabama. One title you can never claim again is terrible writer. You are a wonderful writer. Don’t ever doubt it. One of the best books I’ve read in years!

    Reply
  30. June Gibson - July 27, 2019 2:56 pm

    Oh, Sean..there is something so very special about you…I think it may be your heart. When reading your post above, and you said you felt like “nothing” ..it brought to mind the chorus we sing in church..”I was NOTHING until You found me, You have given life to me”. You can never be a nothing. The Lord made us “SOMETHINGS”, and you are a Special Something. You encourage, praise, listen, care, hug, and go on and on, but you show your love for people, all kinds of people. You’ve probably given many people hope, where they felt no hope. Keep giving that special touch you have.

    Reply
  31. Martha Jo Bundy - July 27, 2019 3:10 pm

    I read in one of your wonderful columns that your mother used the phrase ‘Sam hill’ . So did mine… I always wondered ‘who was Sam Hill?’ or why did Sam have his own hill?? My mom used the phrase most often ‘why in the Sam Hill did you do that? Didn’t you know what was going to happen?? Think, Jo, think!!’ ?. She’s gone now but I sure would love to hear her say that one more time! ?. Thank you for the wonderful memories you trigger in my mind!

    Reply
  32. Connie Havard Ryland - July 27, 2019 3:29 pm

    I don’t have your address so I don’t write you. I comment on most of your columns; I share your words with most everyone I know; and I see you in person every chance I get. I don’t care for terrible writers-I enjoy writers who make me see the world with their words. You are one of those. Get a large mailbox encased in brick so the mail carrier can deliver your mail. It’s not going to stop coming any time soon. Love and hugs from Alabama.

    Reply
  33. Linda Moon - July 27, 2019 3:37 pm

    On behalf of all us lop-sided “mailboxes” from Alabama who sometimes want to scream at the world, Thank You. You Are Loved by all us Heavenly Matches!

    Reply
  34. Shelton A. - July 27, 2019 3:51 pm

    Don’t repair it too much. Then you just end up replacing another mailbox. Thanks for what I read every day. We love you too, Sean.

    Reply
  35. Terrie - July 27, 2019 4:01 pm

    Dear Sean, you are not a terrible writer. I am an atricious writer, but thankfully I am a voracious reader. I read your post everyday after my devotional time. I look forward to the funny, and the moving insights that stir my sense of gratitude . Please keep it up , maybe someday I will actually hear a story first hand. Thanks Tee

    Reply
  36. Fay - July 27, 2019 4:57 pm

    I love you Sean. I can’t wait to read your posts. You make me laugh, cry, or feel sad for some you share..but always you make me happy. I’m a few months from being 80 and can relate to almost everything you write about. I was raised by a single Mom who worked in a cotton mill and taugh me so much. I was raised in the Church of God, but changed to baptist when I married my husband in 1959. He passed away four years ago with that sad disease Alzheimer’s. I’ve raised three children, put them all through college..Alabama, Auburn and Athens State. So you see, i’ve been there, done that and you see how I treasure all that you write about. You came to my city last January..I couldn’t go..it was sold out before I found out about it. Maybe some day. Keep writing!!!

    Reply
  37. AC - July 27, 2019 5:02 pm

    My uncle stopped the mail box smash, it usually happened on a Sat. night so he went out and put
    a concrete block in the mail box. On Monday one of the kids came to school with a big knot on his
    head and you guessed it, no more smashed mail boxes.

    Reply
    • Melanie - July 27, 2019 8:06 pm

      @AC. ?

      Reply
  38. Dolore - July 27, 2019 5:50 pm

    You really are something, Sean. You have made many, many people happy every time your column is read. Please never lose sight of how important you are to the people you touch. I’m a hugger, too, any time, just call. Thank you!

    Reply
  39. Dolores - July 27, 2019 5:51 pm

    My name is Dolores, somehow the “s” fell off!

    Reply
  40. Dianne - July 27, 2019 6:17 pm

    You are a good writer, Sean. Love your stories. Besides, how could I not like someone who is a hugger, because my husband is a hugger. He always says hugs are good, because everyone needs one. Thank you!!

    Reply
  41. Susan Kennedy - July 27, 2019 6:37 pm

    You are definitely something and it’s a good something. As a matter of fact you are SOMEBODY!! I’m a hugger too. Hugs are like therapy only cheaper. You are loved. Currently about half way through your new book and loving it!

    Reply
  42. throughmyeyesusa - July 27, 2019 7:57 pm

    Erect a new mailbox (Save a mail lady!) HOWEVER:

    Put the NEW box upstream from oncoming traffic from the old one….leaving the old one in place. You might want to screw the old door closed and alert the mail lady.

    The old box will protect the new box, especially if you place it just a smidgeon lower (within the PO regulations). They can always get out of the car, of course, so……a cement block in there for the first week might not hurt. ??

    Good luck!

    Reply
  43. Melanie - July 27, 2019 8:00 pm

    ♥️

    Reply
  44. Alexander Locke - July 27, 2019 10:01 pm

    Be nice to yourself and your mail lady and get an industrial sized PO Box. That way you can keep the old beat up one in pristine condition and still get your mail unmolested. Win-win, if you ask me.

    Reply
  45. Mike McKay - July 27, 2019 10:43 pm

    I thought for sure I was forgettable

    Reply
  46. Billie Tomberlin - July 28, 2019 1:52 am

    I hope you know how much your words mean in good, bad and sad times. Thank you

    Reply
  47. gwendolyn - July 28, 2019 4:37 am

    Sean I love your writing! You have simple and important things that simply need to be said and read! I love you friend! Have a great life and keep on keeping on! Gwendolyn

    Reply
  48. edshunnybunny - July 28, 2019 12:27 pm

    Thank you for doing what you do…for painting the world in a better light… with your words. You truly have a gift, don’t sell yourself short. And good luck with that new mailbox!

    Reply
  49. Patricia A Schmaltz - July 28, 2019 1:22 pm

    Sean, I am a big hugger too… so watch yourself if you are ever in the Publix on Racetrack Road in Fort Walton Beach. Actually YOU inspired me to write MY book: a memoir on my moving to Italy when I was a 22-year old insolent ex-LSU-Sorority Girl. (After that sentence, you KNOW I have some editing to do!) Yes, I moved back to the States after several years overseas and a few years in Yankee Central (VA/MD). I will send you a copy once I get it published! Thank YOU for reaching out to all of us; with humor, compassion and HEART! Love you!!

    Reply
  50. Kathleen - July 29, 2019 1:38 am

    Sean, thank you for your vulnerability and your honesty in sharing your heart with us. Please continue helping us to see one another as wounded souls who simply need understanding and loving care. We need your message and your writing now more than ever ?

    Reply
  51. Zena - July 30, 2019 12:04 am

    Slocomb

    Reply

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