The phone rang.
My wife and I were in the kitchen, cooking an elaborate gourmet dinner. I was chopping garlic. My wife was sauteing shallots or something fancy like that.
My wife answered the phone. I could tell the call was serious because my wife’s face went pale. She was nodding a lot, and doing lots of uh-huhing. A lot of blinking.
Then she started crying. And I mean REALLY crying.
Uh-oh, I was thinking. My wife rarely cries. There are only a few things that cause my wife to cry. She cries whenever (a) the University of Alabama loses a bowl game, or (b) whenever someone wears white after Labor Day.
My wife was a Junior Leaguer, back in the day. She follows social rules. She wears pearls and heels to check the mail. She writes thank-yous for every occasion, including the onset of daylight savings. And she never cries in public unless “Steel Magnolias” is on TV.
“What’s going on?” I whispered.
My wife shushed me. She plugged her right ear with her finger and pressed the phone into her other ear. She was listening intently, nodding rapidly, like the person on the other end of the phone could see her. Lots of yeses and okays and one word answers. She was still crying.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
She shushed me again. This time, she waved a 10-inch chef’s knife in my face. When your wife holds a knife the size of a canoe paddle, you tend to listen.
Her conversation wasn’t long. She made a few notes on a legal pad. Then she hung up.
“You’re never going to believe it,” she said.
“Guess,” she said.
I detest guessing games. I used to have nightmares about Pat Sajack.
“Just tell me what the phone call was about,” I said.
She was smiling now. Although her eyes were still glazed with emotion. “You’re going to have to keep guessing,” she said.
I guessed. But I failed.
“Please tell me what this is all about,” I finally said. “You know I hate guessing games.”
She smiled largely. “I’ll give you a hint. It’s about you.”
I felt a pang of dread run through my bloodstream. “Is it good news or bad?” I asked.
“Your cousin decided not to come for Christmas?”
“Please tell me.”
My wife wore a serious face. “You know who that was on the phone?”
“That was the ‘Grand Ole Opry,’” she said.
I was silent.
“They want you to come back and perform again,” she said. “On June 10th. You’re going to be on the ‘Grand Ole Opry.’”
“You’re kidding,” I said.
“You’re pulling my leg.”
She shook her head. “I don’t pull legs.” More tears came.
I dropped the knife. Now it was me who was crying. I sort of backed into the wall and tried to catch my breath. I felt dizzy.
Because, you see, I was on the Grand Ole Opry last March. It was the biggest night of my entire life. The greatest experience I’ve ever had. I wept onstage. I doubled over and wept.
I shook hands with the Riders in the Sky band. I met John Conlee. I touched the hem of Keith Urban’s blouse.
I thought my Opry appearance was a one-and-done deal. Sort of like getting baptized. You get dunked once, then you’re good for at least a decade. But no, they wanted me back.
Me. Of all people. The suicide survivor. The high-school dropout. The kid who was raised in mobile homes, camper trailers, and cinderblock houses. The guy with a neck the same color as a fire engine.
My wife tossed her arms around me. She held me close. I smelled of garlic and saltwater. We cried into each other’s shoulders.
“You’re going to the Opry,” she said. “For a second time.”
Then she said it again.
We ended up having peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner.
Larry Evans - April 19, 2023 11:19 am
Congratulations, Sean ! You are so deserving of any kudo that God blesses you with . Thousands of us are rejoicing with you and Jamie !
julieannhall - April 19, 2023 12:54 pm
I have to tell you, how proud I am of you. I started following you because you wrote about your dog. It made me cry often. Then she passed away. I discovered you write about people. Good stories that also make me cry. Then there was the new dog. And the other new dog. And you sing songs and write books. And tell stories, with honesty and appreciation of the beautiful humans we share the planet with. You love your wife and you tell stories about it. I am so thankful for who you are and what you do. I am proud you are getting another opportunity to share all of this on the Grand Ol Opry. Thank you Sean, for just sharing yourself and all the things with the world.
David in California - April 19, 2023 12:58 pm
Well…We heard you on The Opry on live radio and John Conlee DID say they’d have you back. 😀 Glad to hear it will be so soon. Congrats! We’ll put it on our calendar and look forward to Round 2. 👏👏👏
Susie Murphy - April 19, 2023 1:25 pm
YeeHaw! Sing yer heart out!
Denise Burgess - April 19, 2023 2:09 pm
We will be there! Had to miss the March one but not this one!
Pat - April 19, 2023 3:32 pm
Congratulations, Sean! You’ve earned this. Love to you and Jamie from an old lady in Eastern NC.
Becky Souders - April 19, 2023 6:57 pm
Yay, Sean Dietrich. Have fun!
pattymack43 - April 19, 2023 8:21 pm
H. J. Patterson - April 19, 2023 11:11 pm
Sean, if you look into the lives of other artist that have graced that stage, they too are; suicide survivors, high-school dropouts, kids who were raised in mobile homes, camper trailers, and cinderblock houses, their necks were the same color as a fire engine and they’ve experienced many other trials of life. That’s what helped them get there.
ron - April 19, 2023 11:51 pm
my dream is to stand barefoot on the edge of the opry stage, when no one is around. just to see if i could absorb just a smiggen of the talent that has been there.
at my age and health, that ain’t ever going to happen. but it is nice to dream
Pubert Earle Bozemann - April 20, 2023 5:34 am
Good ‘Urn Ron! And Ditto!
Josie - May 1, 2023 4:33 pm
Congratulations my friend ☺️🤗