The Great Big Old Day

Good morning, Erin. You don’t really know me, and I don’t really know you, but I wanted to thank you for inviting me to your wedding last weekend. It was a beautiful service.

You picked a good man to marry. Todd is an old friend. He’s moral, kind, loud-mouthed, and he can handle more adult beverages than any man I’ve ever known because he is an Episcopalian.

He is giving. Once, I saw him empty his wallet and give it to a handful of Latino boys outside the hardware store. It was cold weather. They were looking for an honest day’s work. They were wearing T-shirts. He gave them cash to buy coats.

That’s your new husband.

Anyway, it was a nice ceremony. They tell me that you and your mother decorated the chapel all by yourselves—and on a puny budget. It was breathtaking. We in the vestibule were all raving about how beautiful it was as soon as we walked through the doors. The white colors, the draped linen, the floral arrangements, and the magnolia blossoms.

Somebody’s redheaded toddler was running around in the back pews throughout the service. And not that this was an issue, but evidently he had something fragrant in his diaper. We all know this because we could smell him before we entered the chapel, from a distance of roughly three blocks away.

His mother chased him, she was livid. She wore the angry face of maternal wrath, adorned in pearls and heels. She couldn’t catch the kid. He eluded her grasp, then ran toward the altar of God just before the wedding started.

He waved hello to the congregation.

We waved back.

Then he dug a hand into the seat of his britches and fished around for something which we all sincerely hoped wasn’t semi-solid organic matter.

And once his furious mother caught him, we all knew this particular redhead would not see his next birthday.

Anyway, I was sitting beside your aunt and uncle. They were country people, and I have a soft spot for country people. These are the sort I come from. They were beaming with pride when they talked about you. They told me how you skipped the sixth grade because you were so smart, and how you finished college early. They were so proud it hurt.

You probably know all this, but your new husband and I aren’t as close as we once were, although we keep in touch. And I just wanted to say that I remember when he had his heart broken by his first wife—I’m certain you know more of the story than I do.

I also want to say that you are good medicine for him. I can see it. The way he looks at you tells a story, and it’s a tale that makes me believe in good again.

Your children were beautiful, standing on stage beside you. And when the preacher asked, “Who gives this woman away?” we all sniffled when your ten-year-old son joined hands with his brother and sister and said, “We do.”

We in the congregation thought we were finished crying until your kids read vows they’d written to their new step-siblings.

“You’re our real family,” your eldest daughter said. “And we’ll fight for you if you ever need us.”

It was an honest word choice. Fight. Life is a fight, sometimes. A beautiful fight. But a fight nonetheless.

When you kissed your groom people shouted. Several of us hollered. And please believe me when I say this: I don’t know who hollered “Roll Tide!” during your matrimonial kiss. It wasn’t me. Although I shook the guy’s hand and discussed at length the importance of a strong wishbone offense.

The reception was out of this world. Fried foods made by church ladies, squash casserole made by your mother. And whatever those fried potato-things were, I ate nine of them.

We had all the dancing we could stand. The band was big fun. Although when I slow danced to “At Last” with your great aunt Maude, she did not honor the strict hands-above-my-butt rule.

Meanwhile, you should know that your father was in the back room passing out recycled jelly jars to the guys. And I don’t mean to give away his secret, but these jars were filled with something that tasted like Coleman lighter fluid.

He handed me one then winked and said, “This stuff’ll put hair on yer hair.”

When you cut the cake I felt so happy for you both, the whole room was glad. Aunt Maude hooked arms with me and told my wife to get lost. You smeared icing on your groom’s face. We laughed and applauded. Because we believe in you, you see. We all believe in you.

In fact, I believe in you so much I wanted to give you more than a flimsy Tupperware salad bowl from your Target gift registry. I wanted you to have words. Words that remind you of how much your new family gives me to believe in.

May you live a long, long life together. May age make your marriage even better. May you always feel the way you felt last weekend when your children read aloud their vows. And please pray for that redheaded child whose mother finally caught him.

He’s going to need it.


  1. oldlibrariansshelf - May 30, 2021 9:52 am

    Whenever love is lost a second chance is an awesome opportunity. Thank you for endorsing this merged family with all your charming observations.

  2. joan moore - May 30, 2021 10:35 am

    Sean, on the eve of our 24th anniversary, this bride thanks you for all your verbal gifts that will be more remembered than the Tupperware.

  3. Marisa - May 30, 2021 11:47 am

    Thank you for my morning smile.

  4. Jan Fincher - May 30, 2021 11:58 am

    Love, Love, Love this!!!! I could practically be there from your description! God bless ‘em!

  5. Dean - May 30, 2021 12:04 pm

    Thank You for something good to read about this morning. Hope they have many good years together

  6. Debbie g - May 30, 2021 12:08 pm

    Precious gift to the new family!!! Thank you Sean beautiful moment you shared.

  7. Sidney - May 30, 2021 12:37 pm

    Read you every morning in my blog feed! You inspire me to be a better person; to see humanity in an open-hearted way.

  8. Subhobo - May 30, 2021 1:12 pm

    I discovered your writing a year or so back and have enjoyed your insights ever since. This post today re: the wedding, I found particularly touching. I’m from the Miami Valley of Ohio, MIddletown, between Cinc’y and Dayton. Same folks live there as in your story. Your comment about the gift of words reminded me of a poem by Rod McKuen I ran across when I was in high school, 50 years ago. It was called Song without words. I memorized it then and I can still perform the piece. I think it is relevant to your theme and your story and I hope you enjoy. I’m a singer/songwriter, children’s author, poet & storyteller in S. Florida. Check out the poem from McKuen.

    I wanted to write you some words you’d remember
    words so alert they’s leap from the paper
    and crawl up your shoulder and lie by your ears
    and be there to comfort you down through the years.
    But it was cloudy that day and I was lazy
    and so I stayed in bed just thinking about it.
    I wanted to write you and tell you that maybe
    love songs from lovers are unnecessary.
    We are what we feel and writing it down
    seems foolish sometimes without vocal sound.
    But I spent the day drinking coffe, smoking cigarettes
    and looking in the mirror practicing my smile.
    I wanted to write you one last, long love song
    that said what I felt one final time.
    Not comparing your eyes and mouth to the stars
    but telling you only how like yourself you are.
    But by the time I thought of it, found a pen,
    put the pen to ink, the ink to paper,
    you were gone.
    And so, this song has no words.

    Be well and keep up the great work. I’m a fan… DKH

    • Nancy Straface - May 30, 2021 5:09 pm

      That was so sweet!

    • Karen G - May 30, 2021 5:58 pm

      To DKH – I haven’t listened to Rod McKuen for 50 years. But he was like my swan song in college! What a great reminder! I need to find him again. Thanks for sharing☺️

  9. Denise Walker - May 30, 2021 1:28 pm

    You make everything sound fun. I felt like I was there, at that little church, full of church people and family. What a beautiful tribute.

  10. Amy Muscarella - May 30, 2021 1:30 pm

    Loved this story!

  11. Joy Slegers - May 30, 2021 1:58 pm

    I loved this one! Very funny! Almost made me feel like I was there.

  12. dymenovel - May 30, 2021 2:37 pm

    Beautiful story…loved it!

  13. Karen Holderman - May 30, 2021 3:43 pm


  14. DAVID A WILSON - May 30, 2021 4:14 pm

    Great Writing, as usual

  15. Linda Moon - May 30, 2021 4:31 pm

    The chapel wedding was beautiful. It reminded me of a couple of weddings I’ve been to. One was in a small chapel, and in the other one at a small church the bride wore cowboy boots. I’ll take as many of your words that you have to give, Writer. And I hope Great Aunt Maude gets some more “At Lasts” while dancing!

  16. Susan Corbin - May 30, 2021 4:46 pm

    I enjoyed being at the wedding thru your story.

  17. Betty F. - May 30, 2021 5:35 pm

    Best wedding gift ever, Sean!

  18. Steve McCaleb - May 30, 2021 6:04 pm

    Sean, I hope I don’t scare you but here goes. Nobody including his mom is going to catch that little redheaded devil. Why you ask ? Because he’s an apper….app… dadgum it HE’S A GHOST! In my 70 plus years I’ve personally seen him at least 40 or 50 times. He shows up wherever things are going abnormally well and throws a rock or two in the pudding. I’ve seen him at weddings, funerals, political rallies, 4th Sunday Methodist dinner on the ground, mumblepeg tournaments, and quilting bees. The first time I saw him was Saturday August the 8th, 1967 at the Ladies Auxiliary Canning Club’s End Of Summer Festival at Hightogy, Alabama. There’s some things a man just don’t forget.

  19. MAM - May 30, 2021 6:45 pm

    Loved the smiles and the tear or two of happiness. And Steve’s comment just above is likely true. Most things are not allowed to happen without some kid causing a giggle or two. God definitely has a sense of humor!

  20. T J - May 30, 2021 9:31 pm

    Great and hysterical 😩 story, Sean. Anyway I could get a slow dance 💃 with great Aunt Maude?

  21. Chasity Davis Ritter - May 30, 2021 10:48 pm

    Congratulations Erin and Todd!! May you have many many beautiful, amazing, exciting and adventurous years together filled with love and joy!!

  22. Rebecca Souders - May 30, 2021 11:03 pm

    Great gift, Sean Dietrich…. the one you use to give to us all. Lucky couple!

  23. Bill Harris - May 30, 2021 11:56 pm

    Thank you Sean.

  24. Kate - May 31, 2021 2:15 am

    When I get older I hope I am like Mother Mary and Aunt Maude

  25. Christina - May 31, 2021 6:19 am

    I love the new sibling vows! Thanks for capturing all the joyous moments.


Leave a Comment