The Visit

“My son is dying,” says the mother. “Can I get you anything to drink?”

What a heckuva conversation opener.

I am standing in an average residential home. In the entryway. Visiting a little boy.

The woman’s son is on hospice care, lying on a bed in the den. There isn’t much they can do for him, the nurse says. “We’re just making sure he’s as comfortable as possible.”

There is a TV going in the den. It’s playing some children’s show I’ve never heard of. He’s lying there. Weak.

He’s 13. He likes guitar. Sports. He loves Elvis. There is an Elvis song blasting on his iPhone.

“How’d you get into Elvis?” I ask.

He shrugs. “I just like him.”

I am sitting by his bed now. His mother gives me a sweet tea and a moment alone with him.

I am crying now.

The Elvis song is “Trouble.” Classic blues “stop-time” tune. From the movie “King Creole.” I know stuff about Elvis because my old man was an Elvis freak.

The kid wants to talk about Elvis. So we do. We talk long and hard. I can see his parents watching from the other room. I feel a little weird being here. I don’t want to say the wrong thing.

I am here because the kid read one of my books and actually liked it. His mother contacted a friend of a friend who knows my wife. And well, here I am.

Pretty soon, he’s done talking. Now we’re just watching television. The TV is blasting some stupid car commercial, an advertisement trying to sell something. And suddenly this commercial strikes me as so insanely shallow. There are little kids lying in hospice beds. And some coporation is on TV trying to sell $180,000 luxury vehicles.

He was a foster kid. He was a “crack baby,” that’s what many called him, his mother tells me. Becuase of this, he’s had health problems all his life. His adoptive parents got him from the foster system. His immune system was weak. His body was brittle.

I see evidence in his living room of a life well-lived. I see boyish items strewn everywhere. Video games, baseball accessories, cleats, aluminum bats, boy toys. I see Auburn University football paraphernalia—but hey, nobody’s perfect.

He was found in a supermarket parking lot, shortly after his birth. Lying in a baby carrier. Abandoned. He was crying loudly when a passerby noticed him.

He was adopted by an older couple who I’ll call Judy and Tom. The couple brought him home as a baby even though they were in their mid-50s.

They gave the boy the life they wished they could have given to their own child—a daughter who died when she was an infant.

Judy and Tom were great parents. They kept their new son involved in extra-curricular activities. He played travel baseball. His new parents have done everything to keep him somewhat healthy. They gave him whatever he wanted.

“I’m going to miss my parents the most,” says the boy. “I love the way my mom makes me laugh. She’s so funny.”

Elvis keeps singing in the background. And I am crying so hard that my ears are now clogged.

The boy doesn’t notice, but I am a complete wreck.

Becuase when I look at him and I don’t see him. I see the genetics of his birth parents. His mother. His father. Two young lovers who went off the rails and fell into bad company. This boy is paying the price for it. In a way, this makes me angry. In another way it makes me mourn.

“I hope my birth parents know I love them,” the boys says, randomly. “Even though they didn’t love me, I still love them.”

Nobody speaks.

“They know,” says his mother, finally.

After our visit is over, we get our photograph made together. The boy says, “Do you think you’ll write something about me?”

“Of course I will,” I say.

He smiles. “What will it be about?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” I say. “It will probably be about how beautiful you are. And about how much you like Elvis, and baseball.”

Another smile. “Will you post it before I die?”

I most definitely will.


  1. David Hourdequin, Author: Musings and Memories of a Meandering Mind. - July 15, 2023 10:50 am

    Sean, your heart for people is inspiring. A conversation with God and reading your blog gets my day started on an high—usually. From there, it’s all downhill. I try to think about others but my mind usually wanders back to me. During a Bible study one morning, my dear departed friend, Chuck, said one of the most profound thing’s I’ve ever heard: “I’m not much, but I’m just about all I ever think about.” Nevertheless, I’ll keep trying. Thanks for helping us remember why we’re here.

  2. stephen e acree - July 15, 2023 11:04 am

    I am so glad you get to bring some happiness to people in dire need. I hope you dont burn yourself out, Sean.

  3. Dee Thompson - July 15, 2023 1:43 pm

    Wow, crying here in Atlanta, of course. I adopted my children when I was 41 and 43, and they were both the children of alcoholic birthmoms and unknown dads. They were severely abused by their birthmoms before being removed and put into orphanages at ages 6 [my daughter] and 8 [my son]. Now they are 32 and 27. We have had a lot of ups and downs, but I love them more than my life and I would go back and do it all over again. Parenting adopted kids is sometimes heartbreaking because we get asked things like “where’s his/her REAL mom?” The last person who asked me that got this reply: “I am his REAL mom because I love him and take care of him.” Even though they are mourning, I bet if you asked this couple if they would do it all over again they would say yes. They are his real parents, and that has nothing to do with biology.

  4. pattymack43 - July 15, 2023 7:31 pm


  5. Rene Gilliland - July 16, 2023 2:10 am

    Dear Beautiful Boy: You can rest assured there will be peace in the valley for you someday. There’ll be no sadness, no sorrow, and no trouble in sight. And maybe you and Elvis can sit on the shiny steps of a mansion and sing a duet or two. God bless you and your sweet mom and dad too.

  6. Cheryl C Hill - July 16, 2023 3:34 pm

    Sean, I love you. Lots and LOTS of people love you. Don’t let the Haters hurt you, they send rude comments to you instead of just not reading your work anymore because no one in their life will take their crap so they dump it all on you. I bet they shower that same Hate on others too. They’re not important, not worthy of your attention. Toss their hateful drivel in the Trash where it belongs, right along with the rest of the Rubbish. And please give Jamie a kiss on the cheek for me!


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