The Reluctant Columnist

It was my twelfth birthday. I blew out the candles and made a wish. If you would have asked what I wished for I might have told you: (a) to meet Jim Varney, and (b) to be a columnist.

I fell in love with columnists when I was young. For extra money my mother and I used to throw the newspaper at 2:30 A.M. each morning, and as a result I read the newspaper religiously. I came to idolize old-school newspaper men.

I bring this up because today is the birthday of this column/blog/whatever-you-call-it. And it has me feeling nostalgic. I’ll never forget when a small newspaper in Texas told me they were going to actually run a few of my columns, I got so excited when they sent me copies in the mail.

“This makes you a real columnist!” insisted my wife, waving the paper like a street-corner newspaper hawker.

And although I wanted to believe her, I didn’t. Because columnists, you see, are educated smart guys. They have multiple degrees, career accolades, and they drive Mercury Grand Marquis sedans. I drove a beater pickup. I typed 12 words per minute using only my index fingers.

Not long after that, I got another job writing short columns in Georgia. Whereupon I drove all the way to Savannah, carrying along a small manual typewriter. I wrote a few 500-word columns about baseball while seated at a KOA picnic table, eating a cold can of baked beans. I can’t remember feeling so happy.

“See?” my wife announced when she held a Georgia newspaper. “Now do you believe me? You’re a columnist now.”

Silly girl. You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken doo.

The hard truth is I’m not much of a writer. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not putting myself down. And believe me, I love writing. But I’m no fool, either. There are artists out there who are true poets. Me? I frequently write about the texture and viscosity of my dog’s drool.

In many ways I’m like the 20-some-year-old beat-up truck I drive. We’re both simple creatures. Not elegant. Not classy. But we are operational. And even though we have extremely high mileage, our engine still cranks on the seventh try.

Sadly, my poor Ford truck is totally falling apart. My broken passenger window, for example, has a trash bag covering it. My passenger mirror is shattered and is currently being held together by a combination of duct tape and the Will of the Lord.

Also, this truck has been through accidents, hurricanes, mechanical failure, disasters. My father-in-law once drove the truck into a telephone pole and smashed the front end to perdition. I myself have accidentally rammed this tailgate over trees, mailboxes, furniture, patios, and on one occasion, bikes belonging to innocent Jehovah’s Witnesses.

I’ve slept in the backseat during a New Orleans Mardi Gras debacle. I’ve ridden out an Alabama tornado while parked in a ditch. I’ve driven the length of Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Missouri. This truck has survived five dogs. I have cleaned this truck only once in its lifetime.

So I guess you could call this truck my twin. We’re both a little battered, unkempt, with truly enormous backsides. And we’ve both been through hard times.

I’m not going to give you my whole life story since I’ve written enough about my own history to sink the U.S.S. Wisconsin, but let’s just say my life hasn’t been a cakewalk.

My father swallowed a shotgun when I was a boy, I dropped out of school in seventh grade, I am mostly self-educated, and have lived in perpetual shame for my lack of schooling. I came from the wrong side of life, I have a significant overbite, and my dogs have higher pedigrees than I do.

And while I’m on a roll confessing: I freely admit that I forget to put the toilet seat down so that, often, in the middle of the night when my half-asleep wife uses the bathroom I am awoken by a giant splashing noise followed by threats on my life.

But oh, this small act of writing. You might never know how much it has changed me. It opened to me a universe I didn’t know existed. It introduced me to compassionate human beings. It introduced me to you. It has gotten me through a pandemic.

I have taken my keyboard to nearly every state on the North American Continent. I have written from hotels, Greyhound busses, the backs of campers, from 25,000 feet above the earth, from the Canadian border, and from the rim of the Grand Canyon.

I’ve interviewed too many terminal children, mothers with breast cancer, single fathers, and I’ve wept with survivors of those who died young. I’ve written about baseball, small towns, EMTs, cornbread, God, peanut farmers, Episcopalians, my father’s suicide, and even my old rickety truck.

I’ll never be accomplished. I’ll never be impressive. You can put me in a roomful of people at a cocktail party and I will always be the guy who once delivered newspapers with his mom. But I am still here, still burning motor oil, and this must count for something.

Although sometimes I wish I could travel backward in time to tell that 12-year-old boy something important.

I’d tell him that even though life will test him, he will survive. No, he might never meet Jim Varney like he once wished. But one day this boy will write these very words you’re reading now, and these words will represent his 2,317th column.

I guess my wife was right.


  1. Ann Marie Bouchet - March 11, 2021 6:29 am

    You ARE a columnist and a great one!!!!!!! NEVER DOUBT JAMIE!!!!

  2. Ann H. Bryant - March 11, 2021 6:35 am

    Don’t sell yourself short! You touch so many lives that enjoy your work and survive by listening to your words.Thanks. You joined the right family. Jim and Mary were and are special. ❤️❤️❤️

  3. Elaine S Wilson - March 11, 2021 6:37 am

    Happy Birthday!

  4. Teresa Snipes - March 11, 2021 6:39 am

    Congratulations! Here’s hoping for at least that many more!

    May You Be Blessed,

  5. Christina - March 11, 2021 6:47 am

    Happy Birthday Columnist Sean Dietrich. We love your stories, your heart behind every word, and your sweet and sassy wife! (Now just remember to put the toilet seat down)

  6. Julie - March 11, 2021 7:18 am

    Sean, Sean, Sean…what brought all this on????
    I don’t think good writers are determined by how educated they are from traditional schools.
    You write directly from your heart, about what you know. Good Stuff you’ve learned from the College of Life!
    Surely you know how much your readers love you?!
    If you don’t believe me, just ask your wife.
    And oh, BTW…It’s ok to love yourself!!! Everyone else does❣️

  7. Sandi. - March 11, 2021 7:54 am

    Here’s to the next 2000 columns you write, and when you reach the 5,000 mark, there ought to be a huge celebration!
    Keep up the gr8 writing, Sean!

  8. Joe Dorough - March 11, 2021 10:23 am

    Sean, You should listen to your wife more often! Congratulations!❤️

  9. Theresa - March 11, 2021 10:23 am

    I’ve only recently been introduced to you and your writing, Sean. That introduction came via a group of some of the most established professional writers who said “Sean of the South’s daily emails are great lessons in storytelling…”. I myself have been paid for my writing for more than a decade, and I find myself aspiring to have just a modicum of your talent. I’ve already been sharing your posts across my social network and with fellow writers. Do not underestimate yourself or your gift.

  10. Kitty Preziosi - March 11, 2021 10:53 am

    Congrats on your anniversary. You are a terrific writer who is making a positive impact on the world including my personal world!! Thank you. Rock on Sean!!

  11. SUSAN H JORDAN - March 11, 2021 10:59 am

    Happy Birthday, Sean!!! 🥳You light up my life Every. Single. Day. with your column. You are a true writer in my book.❤️

  12. Karen - March 11, 2021 11:09 am

    You are my favorite writer, brightening many of my days. Plus I love your artwork! You are a very talented man and we all love you.
    My goal in life is to meet Jamie and you!

  13. Rita Cargill - March 11, 2021 11:12 am

    Of course your wife is right, silly boy! Congratulations, and many more!

  14. Mary Burns - March 11, 2021 11:26 am

    Congrats on making it so long. Lots of people like what you write. I hope you never stop. But I also wish for you a boost of self confidence that you made it. Just enjoy the ride!!

  15. Barbara - March 11, 2021 11:27 am

    Congratulations on the birthday of your column and many more to come! I enjoy the fruits of your labor daily, and appreciate the culmination of every event on the journey of life, starting with a selfless mother who drove her son to sling papers at 2:30AM to today, a survivor of a pandemic trial. Be nice, put the seat down. God bless you and Jamie.

  16. Nina - March 11, 2021 11:43 am

    I read your column every morning with my first cup of coffee. It’s been my normal routine now for several years, and my list of columns I read every day has dwindled down to one. Keep pecking away on that typewriter and listen to your wife. Happy birthday!

  17. Janice Dye - March 11, 2021 11:44 am

    Oh, keep up the good work. I LOVE your column. I read it every morning while eating my cereal. This I do after I’ve had my quiet time with my Bible and the Lord. So, you see, you and the Lord get me started for the day. I would say that puts you in some pretty high company!!!

  18. Timothy McMahon - March 11, 2021 11:46 am

    Great column. And say what you want about your writing skills, you pulled off “viscosity”. Here’s to staying the course and believing in yourself.

  19. Jean - March 11, 2021 11:56 am

    Yes you are and we are glad you are! I couldn’t do it…but you do….every day….and we love it!

  20. Jan - March 11, 2021 12:11 pm

    God gave you a heart and you use it well.

  21. Kathy A Reaves - March 11, 2021 12:12 pm

    Happy Birthday! Since you mentioned your overbite, I have an encouraging thought for you as you get older. If you ever get upper dentures, you can significantly reduce the overbite. Hope I made you smile.

  22. Suzanne Moore - March 11, 2021 12:17 pm

    As a retired English teacher who has taught people who are now English professors, I am here to certify that you are a bona fide writer and columnist, and a damned good one. I love reading your daily offerings and your novels. I just bought your new book for my tiny Carnegie library. Meeting you in Thomasville and discovering your work has been a gift that keeps on giving. If I had the funds, I would buy you, your wife, and your dogs a brand new pickup truck!

  23. Margaret Jackson - March 11, 2021 12:24 pm

    Happy birthday, Sean.

    I wish you had more self confidence. Your columns make people laugh, cry, think and, sometimes, be thankful for their own lives.

    I look forward to getting your column every morning. I also often reread it on Facebook.

    You have a unique talent of seeing the simple things and bringing that wonder to life for the rest of us.

    Keep up the good work and enjoy your day!

    Margaret Jackson

  24. Christian Vowell - March 11, 2021 12:25 pm

    As for me, the first thing I do each morning, is read your blog. Thank you.

  25. susankroupa - March 11, 2021 12:28 pm

    Oh, Sean. I am a writer myself and while I’ll never be famous or rich, I know good writing, even if I don’t always achieve it. You are a wonderful writer. Your work is vivid and funny and touching. I recommend your column all the time to other people, particularly to other writers. And your columns show again and again the beauty and pain and triumph of people who will never be famous or rich, except in the legacy they leave of love and caring. Except, as it turns out, in the things that really matter. You are a wonderful writer whose work also happens to be important and meaningful. So keep it up!

  26. M - March 11, 2021 12:29 pm

    Not only are you a wonderful writer and storyteller, you are a special person who sees good in people and that is a special gift. This very educated attorney envies your special gift and starts every day reading your column, for some reason my eyes water almost every time. Keep up the good work.

  27. Fay - March 11, 2021 12:30 pm

    Happy Birthday to my FAVORITE columnist…the world is a better place because you were born!

  28. Lloyd - March 11, 2021 12:35 pm

    Congratulations and happy birthday to the column! Thank you for the dedication it takes to write this beautiful column every day. It is a bright spot in what can be a dark and negative day.

  29. Ruby Roberts - March 11, 2021 12:36 pm

    Happy Birthday Sean. Hope it’s a wonderful day for you. Love reading your column.

  30. Wanda Morgan - March 11, 2021 12:42 pm

    God bless you Sean. Your writing touches my heart. You don’t need a degree to do that. I’m proud of you and your beautiful wife. Keep writing! Wanda

  31. Phil Jennings - March 11, 2021 12:45 pm

    Dear Sean, Survival-continuing to live or exist in spite of circumstances, difficulty, tragedy and even success.
    Reluctant? …… I would say self deprecating. (Much Better than foolishly boasting)
    I’m glad you are all the things you say you are. If you started to espouse success and victory, I would wonder if aliens took over.
    You give us a picture of real life. We all self doubt. We critique our appearance, abilities and social status. By saying it out loud, you help us look at ourselves and see that we are not alone.
    The sum of who and what we are should never be our income, our appearance, our truck (possessions) or even which football team we support. In your writing, you have the ability to show us, in snippets, character that we all have. Good character. We recognize bad character when we see it or live it. But like your comparison of you to your truck, the scars, tragedies and tough times helped develop your good character by surviving. Your wife grounds you as so many spouses do. (I’m glad she points out your success.)Your writing is a confessional that lifts us up and gives us pause to say, “Yeah, I recognize that in me.”
    You’re not JUST surviving, Sean. You are excelling in showing us that the American Dream exists in never giving up on ourselves by being honest to the good teachings of parents and mentors. Your mom is like my mom. Solid.
    I look forward to your blog every morning. I will soon be a resident of Fairhope, Alabama. Please drop by to have a beverage of your choice as we sit on the tailgate of your truck and speak of moms and wives.
    You’re a blessing, my friend.

    • Michele Beaty - March 11, 2021 1:30 pm

      Perfectly said.

    • Michele Beaty - March 11, 2021 1:36 pm

      Perfect. Just perfect.

  32. Kate - March 11, 2021 12:49 pm

    Seems you have had a great life, parents that loved you, a mother that sacrificed for you, a wonderful wife, amazing adventures and travels, and people who read what you write everyday. And most seem to have better days and more joy after they read your columns/blogs/what-ever-you-call-it.

  33. Diane White - March 11, 2021 12:51 pm

    Your words have inspired me so much…and I am sure millions of others. You are so blessed because you are doing what you love.
    Thank you!!!!!

  34. Phil (Brown Marlin) - March 11, 2021 12:55 pm

    Take it from us, your readers – you ARE a columnist! MY kind of columnist. keep columning, my friend.
    BTW, your wife is ALWAYS right.

  35. Te Burt - March 11, 2021 12:57 pm

    Congratulations to a long life (not over yet) of pithy, funny, touching, vivid wordscapes that are the bright moment of every morning. Who cares if anyone else recognizes your talent (rhetorical), your readers appreciate you and your down-to-earth viewpoint, experiences, stories. I can relate to many. I discovered you on the article about Ella Mae, and you had me with the first mention of “bloodhound.” Anybody who lives with a bloodhound is special! In fact, you’ve inspired me. I live outside a small South GA town, and the local weekly paper has agreed to look at any blurbs I might write. A neighbor whose family has lived here for generations, is interested in writing, too. (I’m not from here.) So you keep on because there’s a bunch of folks who would miss you early in the morning. Some days, what you say is the only sane thing I hear all day!

  36. Carolyn Stoner - March 11, 2021 1:00 pm

    I no longer read ‘the newspaper,’ but never miss your column. Share it with others who need a lift, laugh, or love in their lives. You are unique and special in your own right because of the hardships in life, but boy have you come out on top of it all! Kudos to you for the courage and perseverance it took to bring us the best in life each morning.

  37. Sonya Tuttle - March 11, 2021 1:00 pm

    I learned that you and my best friend share a birthday. She is my daughter after 3 sons, and I am amazed that you continually put yourself down. (Even though it makes me smile). Your column/ blog is the highlight of my morning. From a podunk community in North Mississippi I send you my wishes for a supercalifragilistic and expialidocious day.

  38. Chris Nischan - March 11, 2021 1:03 pm

    happy “columnist” birthday! I look forward to reading this column every morning before my day gets started. I am a fishing guide and send my clients columns I think they can relate to. My life is richer because of you and your dedication to writing. THANK YOU

  39. Monica Anderson Young - March 11, 2021 1:04 pm

    Oh, happy birthday to the column and thank you for the gift you bring all who read your words. It truly is a gift and an education of the highest kind.

  40. Denise - March 11, 2021 1:05 pm

    I try to remember: “measure your progress against your former self, never against others”. One’s achievements are only valid in our own personal context. So you be proud of YOUR growth, from where you were, to where you are–and nothing else matters.

  41. Leigh Amiot - March 11, 2021 1:08 pm

    Sean, your talent is purely God-given, not earned, and the gentle humility you show sounds like thanksgiving to the Grantor of your gift. “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;”—I Corinthians 1:27. Of course you are not foolish, but to those who believe certain hoops (higher education) have to be jumped through in order to be successful, well, some of those poor souls might look down upon you, but none of them could teach you the tender reaction of your heart. Your painful experiences have been transmuted into lovely stories which touch more hearts than you know. I am blessed not only by your writing, but by the comments and musings which springboard from your columns. You bring out the best in most people, and do try to gloss over the few who aren’t so nice. They simply haven’t discovered their own gift, whatever it may be.

  42. Clara - March 11, 2021 1:09 pm

    Happy birthday Sean!! You always make my day a little brighter, even if I do cry sometimes.

  43. Kathy - March 11, 2021 1:10 pm

    Your wife is right. I read you first thing every morning and am working my way through the archives. Every story makes me smile or cry. I’m glad you followed your dream. Now put down the toilet seat. 😁

  44. Teresa Miller - March 11, 2021 1:12 pm

    I was so afraid you were going to say this was the last column for now… please don’t stop….

  45. Brenda - March 11, 2021 1:22 pm

    Happy Birthday Sean!

  46. Vickie Taylor - March 11, 2021 1:26 pm

    Happy Birthday Sean! Please know that I look forward to your writings every single day and they always touch my heart. You have a true gift and I am so grateful that you share it with me and the rest of the world. May God bless and keep you. Oh…& I am so going to give you a bear hug if we ever meet. Have a blessed day and an amazing year 🎉

  47. Judy - March 11, 2021 1:30 pm

    Happy Birthday! Remeber what Christopher Robin said, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” Keep writing!

  48. Pamela Williams - March 11, 2021 1:33 pm

    Happy birthday/anniversary of your column! I look forward to reading every morning as part of my morning ritual. Please keep writing and making the world a little more lovely. 😊

  49. Cele LeBlanc - March 11, 2021 1:35 pm

    Your wife is correct, and your columns take us with you on all those journeys you mentioned, bringing great joy and heartfelt tears. Congratulations!

  50. Eleanor - March 11, 2021 1:37 pm

    You are writing from your perspective of yourself as a writer. I have the perspective of the reader, and I look forward to reading your column every day, it’s always positive and interesting, and I thank you for it.

  51. Delanie Trusty - March 11, 2021 1:41 pm

    Oh how I love your writing, the style of your writing, how you live your momma, wife, sister and bloodhounds. Stay simple – we don’t need complicated!!

  52. JohnN - March 11, 2021 1:42 pm

    You were the last person my wife and I were able to hug when you visited Huntsville about a year ago, other than each other. Thank you for your perseverance and belief in humanity. I still don’t know how you are able to write every day. From one former newspaper carrier to another….

  53. Jenny T Brannan - March 11, 2021 1:44 pm

    Back in the day, I turned first to Lewis Grizzard when I opened the morning paper. Next was Erma Bombeck and Celestine Sibley. Trust me – you ARE a columnist. A good one.

  54. Pat - March 11, 2021 1:46 pm

    Congratulations on your columnist anniversary! You are a treasure!

  55. Pat Edlund - March 11, 2021 1:53 pm

    I love the way you write about life, it’s real! Can’t wait to read your words every morning. Keep on writing!

  56. Jan - March 11, 2021 1:58 pm

    You truly are a columnist but more important than that you are a truly good human being! You have seen the best and the worst in life and you always find a way to end your columns with the best! You give out hope and love like a lollypop or a life preserver to all you encounter. Thank you, Sean!

  57. Melanie - March 11, 2021 2:02 pm

    Happy Birthday Sean! I hope you and the doggies had a delicious cake made by Jamie and made a wish when you blew out the candles 🎂.

  58. Joan Busby - March 11, 2021 2:12 pm

    Thank you! You start my day on a positive note. Happy Column Birthday 🎉

  59. Donna S Beridon - March 11, 2021 2:13 pm

    Congratulations, column writer extraordinaire! I deeply appreciate your gift!

  60. Maria - March 11, 2021 2:16 pm

    No matter what you believe about yourself, you are everything to all of us. Happy Birthday Sean.

  61. Sherrie Kulwicki - March 11, 2021 2:20 pm

    Happy Column Anniversary!!! You are what life is all about – ordinary days strung together making something extraordinary! You are loved!

  62. Samm Ford - March 11, 2021 2:38 pm

    I read your stories every morning! My mother died when I was nine and I felt lost for several years! But as you said, we must move on with life! My father tried to make it up to me but involving me in all his hobbies and work around the house, but it still left a void he couldn’t fill!
    In that way I feel connect to your writing! Here’s to more stories and good times, your devoted reader, Sammy For!

  63. Hunter Winton - March 11, 2021 2:43 pm

    Morning Sean. Congrats on your columnist success. I think what makes you a great columnist, author and blogger is your self-deprecating humor. Your a humble honest straight shooter and that resonates with most of us. Our world today is filled with self absorbed elitist who think it’s their responsibility to tell us how wrong we are. KEEP BEING YOU!!!! Thanks for the witty and insightful messages. Love’m!!!

  64. Deborah Blount - March 11, 2021 2:46 pm

    Your wife is totally right. The basic reason I read your blog every day is your loving, half glass full view of life. You may make me cry (my eyes tend to leak when I read your articles), but I always end up with a renewed positive attitude when I finish your daily devotional. Thank you.

  65. Michelle - March 11, 2021 2:49 pm


    You are so much more than a columnist, you are a soul speaker.

  66. Michael - March 11, 2021 2:50 pm

    Congrats, Sean. You’re one of my favorite columnists. And my 2004 Ford is right behind you.

  67. billllly - March 11, 2021 2:50 pm

    Every morning, I click on your column; so far I’ve never failed to find a fresh column when I click on your site. And I’ve never failed to like what I read. IMHO, you’re a da***d good writer who delivers daily. I’m an author with seven published novels, but I couldn’t do what you do if my life depended upon it. Congratulations! I look forward to another year of your columns over my morning coffee. Keep them coming! Please. billllly

  68. Jeanne - March 11, 2021 2:53 pm

    Congratulations!! Your COLUMNS bring a welcome ray of sunshine to me. They make me so appreciative of everything I have been blessed with in my life. Happy anniversary and I look forward to many more!

  69. David Rainer - March 11, 2021 2:55 pm

    I had the pleasure to hang around with Jim Varney a few times during my career as an outdoor writer. Jim was a regular visitor to the Buckmasters Classic outside Montgomery, and he was, as we say in the South, a hoot. He even took a ride in my beloved 1988 Ford pickup that I finally retired after 467,000 miles. Varney was such a personable guy, but I do remember one thing he said, “What’s the deal with this Jim Carrey? I was making those faces long before he was!” As for your writing, I’ll never forget what Red Smith, the famous New York Times sports writer said, “”Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.” That’s what you do Sean, so keep it up!

  70. Cheryl Buchanan - March 11, 2021 2:58 pm

    Happy birthday and may you have a great day. Thanks for being a ray of sun shine in our lives.

  71. Lynda Gayle Knight - March 11, 2021 3:02 pm

    I look forward every day to reading what you are going to teach me today. Your writings are for everyone. They are REAL life. They are typical everyday events, they are human traits, both good and bad, they are you and they are us. Life isn’t easy but it is wonderful and worth our full attention. You’ve found your place on this earth as we all must❣️

  72. Dianne Shafer - March 11, 2021 3:07 pm

    She was. And you are. You may not wax poetically like Keats, but you wax poetically with the words of the people and of the heart. And that qualifies.

  73. Brenda Stone - March 11, 2021 3:11 pm

    Of course your wife is right!

  74. Becky - March 11, 2021 3:14 pm

    You’re as real as it gets. Forget about all the qualifiers you think are necessary to be “legitimate”. You’ve got this. Keep it up!

  75. Donna Melikian - March 11, 2021 3:18 pm

    I can’t wait to read your column everyday. Many days I send it to other people. Some days I cry and others I laugh, but I always learn something.
    Maybe it is just being grateful for for so many things in my 76 years. Donna

  76. Helen De Prima - March 11, 2021 3:21 pm

    More than just a columnist — your words start the day right for so many people, including me.

  77. Bob Brenner - March 11, 2021 3:32 pm

    Was she ever RIGHT! You have brought joy and hope to so many people. Sean these people truly love you and can’t live without your daily writings. Personally, I think you are a “National Treasure” to be cherished for giving our world hope. God Bless You, Jamie and all of those Hound dogs! You truly do make a difference…Bob

  78. Jean P. Stone - March 11, 2021 3:38 pm

    Your wife was right!
    In five years you could still not have a college degree. Or you could have a college degree. Time will pass either way.
    It’s not that you need one to write your amazing stories. But maybe just to wipe away feelings of insecurity.
    Whatever you do-please do NOT stop writing.

  79. Julie Young - March 11, 2021 3:39 pm

    I often describe you as “a red-headed Jesus” because you embody His compassion and love in your approach to people. Although I read your columns here on your website, I often share them via Facebook, and have had MANY people thank me for “introducing” you to them. As a longtime fan, I’m happy to see that you have so many FB followers now, but I’m even happier that your success has not changed you from being that simple man who loves his wife, his dogs, his truck — and people.

  80. Cathy - March 11, 2021 3:40 pm

    A columnist brings a story and, if you feel like you have lived that story, he has done good. You have done good! Thank you for bringing the stories of your life and others to life and making me feel all sorts of emotions. Here’s to many more!

  81. michellemcteerallen - March 11, 2021 3:40 pm

    Thank you so much for continuing to write. You are a very bright spot in an often dreary world.

  82. Jenny Young - March 11, 2021 4:00 pm


    “Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you had about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; & your purpose when you are confused.” – Alan Cohen-

    Alot of people love you Sean. You & your sweet wife, Mother Mary, your mamma & all your dogs. We even love your truck!

    And having lots of degrees only means you know how to spell but not much more.

  83. vickie hayes - March 11, 2021 4:00 pm

    Yes! Listen to your wife; she knows what she’s talking about! Congratulations!!!

  84. Sheila G - March 11, 2021 4:02 pm

    Happy Birthday, Sean. You are my #1 Columnist. No doubt about it. Sheila in Seattle

  85. Sharon Brock - March 11, 2021 4:06 pm

    Dude. You are a columnist. Take my word on it. Like Lewis Grizzard, you make me laugh and cry at the same time. From baseball to Otis and Thelma Lou, from handling depression to pimento cheese, I love each and every word. Please give my best to both Mrs. Dietrichs and Mother Mary. And keep columnizing.

  86. Karyn Shields - March 11, 2021 4:08 pm

    You are fabulous! I look forward to reading your column every morning. Thank you for being you.

  87. Karin - March 11, 2021 4:14 pm

    You are a treasure! Like so many others, I read your column every day and laugh and cry along. What keeps me reading is that you’re real. You aren’t living for “likes” or thumbs up icons. You’re just like most of the rest of us: living each day as it comes and getting through the best way we know how! Thank you, Sean!

  88. Patricia Gibson - March 11, 2021 4:15 pm

    Congratulations and grateful for you❤️

  89. Gail - March 11, 2021 4:17 pm

    I am a new reader of your column but would dearly miss it starting out my day. Your heart & humor shines thru each. Keep writing for all of us non intellectual but adoring readers.

  90. Tom Wallin - March 11, 2021 4:44 pm

    Sean, please don’t put yourself down because you are US! And we don’t like to be put down with you any more than you do. You have done more good in the world helping US and our feelings than most people can do in a lifetime. Stay like you are. Your life’s history has made you what you are today and what you will still become. That is why we all love you. Have a wonderful anniversary today and keep on writing to US. Thanks again.

  91. Liz - March 11, 2021 5:06 pm

    I’m new to your columns for about a year now. Please don’t ever stop and congratulations on the column birthday! Like many others have said, it’s the first thing I read every morning. I’m starting to read some of your books now. You make my day better, every day.

  92. Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - March 11, 2021 5:12 pm

    My life is enriched by reading your columns, books and even seeing you perform on stage. And now, your ALFA commercials! It’s time to get a new truck! You deserve to ride in style-you are a star!

  93. Jane Sparacio - March 11, 2021 5:28 pm

    I read your column every single day, and you have opened my eyes to the beautiful world that I live in. ( it took me 80 years!) You my love are what makes this world go round, and we are almost neighbors, Gulf Shores, Al. Congratulations on this anniversary!!

  94. alisonbaird765 - March 11, 2021 5:30 pm

    You always say just what this 57 year old survivor needs to hear. Thank you.

  95. Charlotte - March 11, 2021 5:40 pm


    “The person who sings his own praises is probably a soloist.” I don’t know where I heard that saying, but it’s one that sticks with me. What I wish for you is for you to hear the CHOIR of folks who have spoken to you today: You make a difference. You are beautiful inside and out. You are a writer.
    Happy anniversary!

  96. Chasity Davis Ritter - March 11, 2021 5:44 pm

    Happy birthday/anniversary to your column. I look forward to it everyday since my aunt introduced me to it. I look forward to the next 2317 as well!!

  97. Sylvia Robinson - March 11, 2021 5:55 pm

    I just finished reading Stars of Alabama. It’s the third book of yours that I own & cant wait for your new ‘Christmas ‘ book. I’ve had a rough week physically & Stars made me laugh & cry & forget what hurt. That’s a good writer! I read your blog everyday. Thank you for the laughter & the tears.

  98. Linda Moon - March 11, 2021 5:56 pm

    Just before reading this column I checked local online obituaries. “Sean A.” was listed, with Gaelic spelling of “Sean”, like yours. I thought of you and was HAPPY that you are still here today on your BIRTHDAY. You see, Columnist, you bring out my inner-chocolate-before-breakfast-self. I would miss the chocolate and you, too, if you were in the obits. So, if you’re not much of a writer does that mean that I, who reads your columns daily, am not much of a reader? I will not add insult to injury, so it’s “No” for the real writer and “No” for the reader, too. And, My Guy drives a Wrangler that’s held together with a duct-taped side window and the Deity. Your wife was right, Sean. We usually are.

  99. Denise M Hendricks - March 11, 2021 6:40 pm

    I do my devotion every day and then I read your column, Sean. Thank you for bringing perspective to my life!

  100. Jim D Rogers - March 11, 2021 7:27 pm

    As a retired newspaper columnist, I get more emails daily than I can read. This one I always read.

  101. Pam Crichton - March 11, 2021 7:50 pm

    I hope that you write at least 2,317 more columns, and that I’m still here to read every one of them!

  102. bubbastubbs - March 11, 2021 8:00 pm

    Atta boy, Sean! Keep those columns coming!

  103. Ann Mills - March 11, 2021 8:22 pm

    Yes, she was!

  104. Susan Kennedy - March 11, 2021 8:29 pm

    You were put on this earth for such a time as this. We love you and we need you! Keep up the good work!

  105. Donna D Coleman - March 11, 2021 8:59 pm

    A co-worker just recently turned me on to your column. I can’t tell you how much it makes my day to read your words. I just want to say thank you to the man that used to be a little boy who delivered papers with his mom.

  106. joan moore - March 11, 2021 9:07 pm

    One day you will know that you ARE a great writer!

  107. Eileen - March 11, 2021 9:14 pm

    You, dear Sean, have a way with words. Sometimes we writers do have a hard time believing in ourselves. I’ve been published in printed newspapers, magazines and anthologies. I ‘ve been published online. I still question weather I am an author or a writer or a columnist. At what point do we acknowledge that? At what point do we accept what everyone else has? I am still intimidated when I walk into a room at a conference or symposium next to people with special letters to the ninth degree, next to their names. I too have no special degree at all. I hold my breath every time I submit my random ramblings for publication. I exhale and smile and begin to believe a little bit more in myself each time something gets accepted. You dear Sean, have a way with words. I am glad I stumbled upon your blog/column, whatever you want to call it. I look forward to reading your words each day.

  108. Janice Carlile - March 11, 2021 9:17 pm

    Keep them coming. You make my day every day!

  109. MAM - March 11, 2021 9:24 pm

    I may not always leave a comment, but I ALWAYS read your column. I know it will bring a sprig of hope or a tearful, heartfelt story. I must admit, as a writer, I am quite envious of your amazing storytelling talent. It’s a God-given talent and God and all your readers appreciate every word you write. And, yes, Jamie is RIGHT! I find it amazing that you wanted to be a columnist at age 12. It took me all the way to 58 to figure out I wanted to write columns and report. Happy anniversary of your column. Keep right on pecking those keys!

  110. Ingrid - March 11, 2021 9:24 pm

    You may be reluctant, but you’re real! You’ve been blessed with the ability to make ordinary people, things and events unique and appealing.

  111. Maureen Brown - March 11, 2021 9:34 pm

    Sean, today I received my first subscribed email from you … cool that it’s an anniversary. I’m looking forward to more. You’ve obviously got something we need/want. Big hug from Trail BC Canada.

  112. sandra Pritchett - March 11, 2021 9:42 pm

    Happy birthday to a superb Southern writer. Love your writings and love you. Sandra in Alabama

  113. Jennifer Loepker - March 11, 2021 9:57 pm

    Oh Sean. You have to know that you have a gift! Any one person who can bring out every single emotion known to man, and several really smart animals, has a gift. I have a folder where I put your daily columns so I always have something to read that inspires me. I’ve shared you with countless people. I don’t think you realize just how far your words have traveled. I’m so thankful that eve crossed paths. God Bless.

  114. Sally S Russell - March 11, 2021 9:58 pm

    Thank you Sean. I don’t know how I found you but you bring joy and chuckles, and often tears, but always hope. Congratulations – and by the way – kudos to your wife for recognizing you were a “columnist” before you did. That’s a spouse to keep for sure.

  115. Bill - March 11, 2021 10:37 pm

    We always wish for more, but we never seem to get it, the more, that is.. So I guess it’s just be thankful for what we have and go on from there.

  116. Betty Gayle Dunn - March 11, 2021 11:31 pm

    You were a writer at birth! You just weren’t old enough to share your God given talent with others just yet! You know how I know you are a writer? Because you have touched my soul, and that’s what writers do! Thank you for sharing your gift!!

  117. Rebecca Souders - March 11, 2021 11:32 pm

    Thank you for all your fine words, Sean Dietrich. You are a blessing, and you pass those blessings on to us all.

  118. AlaRedClayGirl - March 12, 2021 1:41 am

    As J.R.R. Tolkien would say, “All that is gold does not glitter.” You are gold to us. Keep on writing, Sean!

  119. Theresa Collins - March 12, 2021 1:53 am

    I am thankful that you kept writing! I look forward to reading and sharing your columns with my friends.
    You must have married a pretty special girl/lady/woman (not wanting to offend). You are undoubtedly an inspiration to many people who feel they have crappy lives and to me who feels sad sometimes for sure.
    I LOVE YOUR COLUMNS…they make me laugh and cry.
    Southern Girl

  120. Buddy Caudill - March 12, 2021 3:51 am

    You will probably never fully realize the impact your writing has on some people, including me.
    I first started reading your columns in the ALFA magazine, Neighbors.
    I’ve looked forward to the next column since.
    Now, that I’ve gotten on your email list, I have the opportunity to enjoy your inspirational and uplifting stories often !
    My mom only attended school through the sixth grade ( the Great Depression saw to that). She was probably one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met, especially as far as common sense goes, and the ability to raise three boys to be responsible adults. My dad passed when I was seven.
    I went through an extended bout with cancer in 2017, and have a new appreciation for many things I had kind of gotten to the point of overlooking.
    Please, keep your head up. And, keep on writing.
    This messed up world needs you.
    And your words.
    A fan,
    Tuscaloosa, AL

  121. Marci Welker - March 12, 2021 4:32 am

    Congratulations on your column’s birthday. When you aren’t making me cry you make me smile.

  122. elizabethroosje - March 12, 2021 4:35 am

    Now Sean, I love your humour so much. Always listen to your wife, says I a wife to my own Husband. He frequently laughs at me! however in this Jamie is VERY right. And you are a great writer. Seriously. I am telling all sorts of people about your books. I LOVE your blog, your books. Keep at it!!! and big Congratulations!

  123. rachel cohen - March 12, 2021 5:36 am

    Your blog brings goodness, hope and light to all who read it. God Bless You. You are all that a writer should be.

  124. Chris Swain - March 12, 2021 8:22 am

    Sean , your comment on your ability made me think of a guy I once heard about. He was from Baltimore and his father ran a barroom. He was always in some kind of trouble and his father finally put him in a boys home. Just gave up on him. While there, the head priest got the young man to play baseball. As he was left handed he convinced him to try pitching as left handed pitchers were rare in those days. He did well and soon he was playing baseball in the major leagues, for the Boston team. He went on to become Babe Ruth. ( Well, I guess he was Babe Ruth to start with)I kinda think that you are in league with that.

  125. Marcie Emory - March 12, 2021 12:06 pm

    Congratulations on your wonderful accomplishment! I am so very blessed my sister sent me a link to your column, as you have enriched my life and helped me find hope in some of my darkest days. God bless you and your family! PS…my boyfriend was jealous that I was so enamored of “such a handsome man” (his words).

  126. Sue - March 12, 2021 3:07 pm


  127. Belinda Crowell - March 12, 2021 3:26 pm

    Happy birthday to your successful column, Sean! I know that belittling yourself is a part of how you write, but, you are a really good writer Sean and all of us who read your stuff, know that. We can relate to you. And, you are so open and forthcoming about your life and how you feel about things. We love that…….and, we love you❣️

  128. Ali - March 12, 2021 6:58 pm

    Happy birthday to the only column I read on a daily basis 🥳 You are very talented. Education and accolades are good, but it takes more than that to be a good writer and you have that in spades! Congratulations and here’s to many more

  129. Anne Arthur - March 12, 2021 10:18 pm

    Yep, you are a columnist and a gifted writer. The world would be so much poorer without your words. A treasure trove of wisdom combined with humor. Happy anniversary, Sean. I raise my glass to the next 10, 20, 30+ years of writing. Yours is the only one I read daily.

  130. carolanne78 - March 12, 2021 11:06 pm

    God Bless You and your wife and that truck and the good dog! Happy Real Genuine Columnist Day ; )

  131. Ann - March 13, 2021 2:49 am

    I guess you really don’t know the impact your columns have…. keep on doing it.. you have more talent than most writers… and you’ve only just begun!

  132. Tammy S. - March 13, 2021 5:30 pm

    Don’t sell yourself short, Sean. You are not just a columnist. Hardly. You are a wordsmith. Of epic proportions!! (And I for one think the word EPIC is way overused, so I don’t use it lightly here. Not at all. While we’re on the subject BREAKING NEWS is also wayyyy overused nowadays too.) But, as I was saying, anyone could write a column. You bring words to life that take us places, educate us, encourage us, and help us to see the good in the world. You are so much more than a columnist, you are a wordsmith and your gift is a gift to us all.

  133. Kathi harper-hill - March 13, 2021 10:30 pm

    I’m a writer. There are thousands of writers who are more talented, more educated and smarter than I am. However; they can’t write like me because they aren’t me. It brings me joy to know some people love my books. Not everybody. But enough to keep me writing. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

  134. Virginia - March 13, 2021 10:32 pm

    You may have only a 7th grade education, but you are rich in knowledge. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and heart with us. It is always a joy to read your column.

  135. Cheryl - March 14, 2021 5:32 am

    You are a columnist, a comedian, a philosopher, a poet, a comfort, a joy, and a truly beautiful person. You have given me so much to ponder in every aspect of life. I can’t begin to thank you for making each and every one of my days the best day ever. God bless you and your lovely wife.

  136. Julie Cotten - March 15, 2021 6:41 pm

    Congratulations on your “columnist celebration” . you can truly make my day and that of so many many others. You do more than write you inspire, you educate, you impact. I am so thankful you do!

  137. Larry Wall - March 15, 2021 8:58 pm

    Sean, my dear friendly columnist, this was truly a delight to read. You were no less reflective than one of my favorite columnists ever, the much-loved Andy Rooney. It would have substituted for one of his own on any day. So, you did very well on this anniversary of literary greatness.

  138. Irene Clements - March 16, 2021 5:47 pm

    Yes, your wife was right! I depend on your daily column to get my day started in a world that has gone crazy and I need grounding and goodness to start my day. You do that for me and sooooo many others. Thank you.

  139. Bob E - March 26, 2021 6:38 am

    From Merriam Webster, “The plural of the noun bus is buses. You might see the plural busses, but that form is so rare”…
    Proof positive that you sir are a rare individual who informs, entertains and pleases your readers most of which read your columns religiously every day. Keep writing from the heart and you will not only keep your readers but you will satisfy them as well.
    A lot of people love to love Sean (X 2,317).
    Congratulations and God bless you and yours.


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