Andy Griffith. He would definitely be near the top of my list. I can’t think of many things better than Andy and Barney.
Next would be barbecue. In fact, it’s a toss up between Andy and barbecue.
Some of the best pulled pork I’ve ever had was at Tin Top Barbecue Restaurant, in Columbiana, Alabama. If you ever visit, tell them Sean sent you. They will look at you funny and say, “Who in the Sam Hill is Sean?”
Also, I love pictures of my friends. I recently had a picture taken with a buddy. When I saw the photo, I noticed how old I look. And it was a bittersweet feeling. It was a feeling that, perhaps, I need to cut back on carbs.
Laughter from a child. Especially a child who considers you to be their favorite non-parental adult.
Cowboy hats. I love them. As a child, I admired cowboys so much that I started collecting cattleman hats. My wife says I own WAY too many, and is threatening to have a neighborhood bonfire.
Good T-shirts. They’re hard to find. I don’t want slogans printed on them, or brand names. I just want a plain color, loose collar, and I need it to be soft. Maybe a few peanut butter stains on the chest.
Dogs who sleep all day. I love lazy dogs. In fact, you could say that I aspire to be one.
Typewriters, fresh newspapers, the sounds of lawnmowers in the distance, Hank Aaron, Shirley Jones singing “Goodnight My Someone,” John Wayne, and black-and-white photographs.
Garlic, cooking in a skillet. Homegrown heirloom tomatoes. Conecuh Quickfreeze sausage. The fuzzy storyboards from Sunday school class.
A good book. One that’s written by someone who isn’t trying to impress you with five-dollar words.
The color yellow.
Lamps with shades. I am serious about that. I cannot stand harsh overhead lighting. It makes me uneasy. I cannot think of a single moment in U.S. history where life has been enhanced by sterile overhead lighting.
If the Good Lord wanted us to have overhead lights, he would have given fluorescent bulbs to Charlton Heston on Mount Sinai.
Let’s see. I already said cowboy hats.
The Gulf of Mexico, which is not just the Gulf to me, it is home. I see the Gulf and my whole life comes back at once. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
It is here where I became me. It is here where I met the woman who is seated beside me right now. The same woman who is watching a movie on her laptop while I write. Who loved me enough to teach me the true meaning of putting the toilet seat down.
Flour. White. Mixed with lard, buttermilk, salt, and baking powder.
Jazz. The old kind. The same music played in the Southland before New Orleans stole Mardi Gras from Mobile.
Baseball. Freddie Freeman. Ronald Acuña Jr. Ozzie Albies. Get well, Mike Soroka.
Hank Senior. Seventy-one years ago, a twenty-five-year-old Hank Williams debuted in the Ryman Auditorium. He sang, “Lovesick Blues,” and “Mind Your Own Business.” Admission was around twenty-five cents. He gave six encores.
Clean sheets, fresh from the clothesline. The smell of fabric softener, but not the kind that gives me a rash.
The JC Penney in Andalusia, I’ll miss that place. The Circle J Western Store in Chumuckla. Priester’s Pecans. The Blueberry Festival. The Peanut Festival greased hog chase.
The sound of a creek. Frogs at dusk. Baked beans. The feeling of warm potting soil in my hands. Did I already say cowboy hats?
A pair of jeans that’s been broken in after years of wear. Granddaddy’s fishing lures. William Lee Golden.
And that feeling when you meet someone you haven’t seen since childhood. You know the feeling. You start to think about how short life is.
As a child, you thought life was going to last forever. But at this age, childhood seems like a dream you had last night.
You’re realizing that you’re closer to the end of your own life than you’ve ever been. And tomorrow, you’ll be even closer.
And even though this thought is sad, for some reason it doesn’t feel that way. Instead, the idea overwhelms you with beauty, art, music, and poetry. It makes you want to write down every single thing you love about life.
So you try. But it’s hard to write these things without seeming corny.
Besides, there is too much to name. You couldn’t even begin to make a complete list. You wouldn’t know where to start. The world is too big, too magnificent, too wonderful, too bright, too whatever.
The one thing you do know, is that at the top of this list, somewhere between hardback hymnals, barbecue, soft T-shirts, old hats, and people who show kindness without prejudice, is love. Real love.
The kind that makes you grateful to be alive, even though living hurts. The kind that makes you grateful for good days, bad days, and every day between. For life. For family. For babies. For each other.
And of course, for Andy Griffith.
Helen De Prima - October 5, 2020 7:13 am
I love your list. Today, I’ll compose my own and save it on my desktop, handy for the bad days.
Julie Patterson - October 5, 2020 8:22 am
And puppy breath. Wintergreen mints in a glass candy dish on Grandma’s coffee table. Fresh snow. A warm hug.
Waunette - October 5, 2020 8:55 am
Memories are made of things like these.
Love reading your daily writings.
Like that you followed your heart and did not listen to those who said you couldn’t write.
Rope’s End - October 5, 2020 9:26 am
Been playing this song by Hank a lot lately: “I Just Don’t Like This Kind of Living”.
Penn Wells - October 5, 2020 11:21 am
“People who show kindness without prejudice is love. Real love.” Yes.
Thank you for another quote for the book that I keep.
Leslie in NC - October 5, 2020 11:44 am
A few of the things I like: the scent of crisp mountain air in the morning, the welcoming smell of coffee perking, the scent of a book when you open it, gardenias, babies. And yes, kindness without prejudice…something we need a lot more of! Thanks for sharing with us some of the things you like.
Liz - October 5, 2020 11:53 am
It doesn’t get much better than the Andy Griffith Show just like it doesn’t get much better than your columns. A lesson in each show, a lesson in each column. Thanks.
SSminoe - October 5, 2020 12:14 pm
I especially like the way you wrapped up the column. That’s just the way I feel about my hometown. My husband and I moved back here after 30 years of military life. My grandchildren are all in another state. They think we should pick up and move, again. I love my grands and would love to be living in the same town. But I just can’t bring myself to pick up and move from my hometown.
Steve Winfield (Lifer) - October 5, 2020 12:23 pm
Throw in ribeye steaks, loaded baked potatoes & books about dogs to your list & we could be twins.
Love you both
Nan Williams - October 5, 2020 12:25 pm
“Conecuh quick freeze” ?? What the heck is that? I’m well acquainted with Conecuh sausage and love it! My husband and I discovered it on a trip down 331 to the beach about the time you were born and have been eating it ever since. I know “original” and “cajun”, but “quick freeze”???
Diane Toth - October 5, 2020 12:26 pm
You’re an old souls Sean. The world needs more of them.
Harriet - October 5, 2020 12:33 pm
I could really see you and Jamie sitting on the sofa. Her watching a movie on her lap top and you writing. That is true love. Just being together.
Jan - October 5, 2020 12:40 pm
Love your list… it comes down to the basics and really the basics are the most important things of all when you think about it. Life comes down to the people, things and activities that make you feel most alive and at the same time most comfortable with life. Thank you, Sean!
Shelton A. - October 5, 2020 12:42 pm
Nice list…you left off down east NC barbecue, The Beatles, etc. But you are so right about Andy and Barney. Oh, and Nelson Royal’s Western Store in Mooresville, NC.
Barbara Brannon - October 5, 2020 12:46 pm
I think you forgot dogs & puppies – the sound of the snap of the lid on an ice cold beer – hot cornbread with butter – I could go on & on here –
Lydia - October 5, 2020 12:53 pm
Thank you,Sean. I concur!
MJ - October 5, 2020 1:17 pm
Priester’s Pecans, our favorite stop when coming home from the beach! 🙂
Julia Blake - October 5, 2020 1:26 pm
Hi! I like today’s column. I don’t want to advertise — only suggest some good t-shirt sites. My husband likes the kind of T-shirts you like. 32 Bar Blues and Territory Ahead (lots of colors and good weight). We love the Atlanta Braves, and many of the other things you name. Take care.
Joseph Townsend - October 5, 2020 1:44 pm
Best column yet!
Eddy - October 5, 2020 1:51 pm
I’m in 1000% agreement with you on harsh, overhead and any type of fluorescent lighting, Y U C K!! We love Y’all!
Bonida Kimbrough - October 17, 2021 3:31 am
Growing up that was all we had, with a chain or string to pull to turn it on. I remember though the first lamp Mom had in the living room. It was pink with gold swirls.
Retired Ol' Geezer - October 5, 2020 2:22 pm
You still need to check out o the original Tin Top BBQ on Hwy 31 about 3 and 1/2 miles south of downtown Calera.
Gordon - October 5, 2020 2:26 pm
In my opinion, this is one of your best post, Sean. Thank you for once again touching my life.
Jane Elder - October 5, 2020 2:35 pm
All of the above. You are the best way to start my day. Keep on keeping on.
Anna Flink - October 5, 2020 3:21 pm
Yes! Especially John Wayne, Andy Griffith, and then all of “The Music Man“. I add “The Sound of Music”, “NCIS”, Wayne C. Henderson, the Kruger brothers, Joan Sutherland, Neil Diamond, John Rutter. Stern but kind and humorous farmers like my Uncle Elliott. Our Carolina Dog mix, Rae. Also, my tough, giving, faithful Mississippi Gulf Coast neighbors in the first days after Katrina. And all of the good Lord’s beautiful sunrise and sunset masterpieces. Especially the ones near Buffalo Mountain Virginia.
Natica - February 9, 2021 2:58 am
Wildflowers on the side of the road and cow pastures with cows grazing.
I love reading your thoughts. Thanks!
Dianne - October 5, 2020 4:01 pm
You made my day again!! We just got back from several days at the beach (Laguna) with 20 family members in one house. It was incredible……..my husband and I are the “elders” of the family which includes many great-grandkids now. While standing on the deck of the home we were in, I looked out at the ocean, sand, sunset, pelicans, seagulls, and told my husband that I could spend the rest of my life right there. I love the Gulf of Mexico/Panhandle and have since the first time I saw it at four years of age. Oh, and I can’t stand overhead light, but I love Andy Griffith, too! Thanks, Sean!
T.C. - October 5, 2020 4:42 pm
And, home made ice cream
Tom - October 5, 2020 5:25 pm
Sean, you left out dogs and especially bird dogs. Ain’t nothing like a good bird dog to make a feller feel greatful. And even better than dogs is grandkids, love me some grandkids, they make it all worthwhile.
Linda Moon - October 5, 2020 5:53 pm
I like your list of things you like, Sean. And I like Tom T. Hall’s love-list, too. Pardon my motherly brag here….I wish you could see my son’s black-and-white sketch of William Lee Golden and spend some time with us on the weekends in “The Pit” while listening to the “The Oaks” (as we call them). I’m grateful for you, and I bet you make your mother proud!
Leesa - October 5, 2020 6:23 pm
Faded (denim) blue pickup trucks.
Sue Rhodus - October 5, 2020 9:23 pm
This has to at the top of what I call..”
my favorites !” Well said !
Denise DeVries - October 5, 2020 9:23 pm
As usual Sean, you hit thenail on the head. Why do we have to get older to appreciate and love all these things?
Linda Moon - October 5, 2020 9:37 pm
P.S. My guy saw you on TV during The Big Game. Congrats, “Big Star”, on your performance in the commercials that you posted about some time ago. You’ll be ready for a DeMille close-up pretty soon, so don’t forget us little people!
K. D. Kempf Jones - October 5, 2020 9:59 pm
You’ve done it again. Sean, what about ice cream? You could do a whole column on ice cream – favorite flavors to textures, homemade snow cream to hand-churned. Heck! The last thing you need is some old lady fan making suggestions on writing topics, ‘ cuz I Love your writing! – DiAn
Cynthia Russell - October 5, 2020 11:15 pm
I finally got to see you.. it was last Saturday night Oct. 3 (I was over in God’s country – aka Mobile visiting the Family) during the Alabama – Texas A&M game.. I saw this guy on a commercial & it said Shawn of the South.. I ask my sister if this dude was talking about Shawn of the South.. & she said THAT IS Shawn of the South… wow… your beard is fuller – so is your hair.. and you look a lot better than your picture.. you’ve filled out & aren’t as scrawny!! before you looked like you could use a good worming (as my Mom use to say… ) You look happy & at peace with the world – I’m glad of that…. I’M also Glad you have a woman who loves you so much & You love her that much more.. you hear so many who don’t .. it makes my day..
So Shawn of the South.. if you are ever traveling between Destin, Florida; Mobile, Alabama; Mississippi, thru Louisiana & you happen upon a silver Tucson Hyundai that has plenty of Alabama stickers, Jesus fish, & a personalized Louisiana tag BAMAGAL give me a toot, a wave.. I would love to meet you & your wife & animals…. wish you all the best !! Keep writing & I’ll keep reading!!
Chasity Davis Ritter - October 6, 2020 1:24 am
Amazing list Sean!! You got it right!!
Pat McGilberry - October 6, 2020 2:39 am
Beautiful. You are giving us hope in this pandemic. TT
Elizabeth - October 6, 2020 2:45 am
Things I love: this essay and your writing in general. Also, my toaster oven that makes really good potato wedges (like big home fries). Also I forgot how much I love this old song, I heard it today on Classic FM via my phone app again today: Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere mei, Deus sung by The Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge. It’s soaring beautiful voices really give moments of listening pleasure… I also like Andy Griffith. My Husband is most beloved to me and together we’ve been watching, on and off for years, the Walton’s, we are in the last season now, and I really like it…family, courage, resourcefulness and hope, not giving up, no matter what. Isn’t it wonderful, now much there is to be thankful for? It really helps one’s soul, thanks for the reminder!
Patricia Gibson - October 6, 2020 1:33 pm
Donnie - October 6, 2020 5:11 pm
Beautiful, Sean. One of your best. Thanks for being there.
Jess Rawls - October 6, 2020 9:28 pm
I thought for sure you would be the kind of guy that loves cowboy hats…just joshin’, I get it. I love coon hounds, one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind. I also a huge fan of collard greens cooked the old fashioned way, Southern way. I also love photography and the great outdoors. There’s a whole bunch to like/love in this world of ours, I just hope the crackpots/liberals don’t burn it down in their hatred of everything I like/love.
Deborah Gandy - October 7, 2020 1:25 am
I’m now retired, but worked for a doctor who loved Hank Williams! He would do a pap smear singing a Hank song. You never knew when he’d break into song! And he wears cowboy boots to work every day. Yes, he’s quite a character❤ And in his opinion, it’s just Hank Williams, no reason to ever say Senior😊
Dru Brown - October 7, 2020 4:07 am
If you mean the Peanut Festival in Dothan, I know what you mean about the greased pig contest. I saw it once, and I may not have ever laughed harder than that.
Lois - October 8, 2020 7:13 pm
Made my day. Thank you. Can’t agree with the cowboy hats, because they look terrible on me, but yellow! You had me at yellow. 🙂
Ali - October 8, 2020 9:00 pm
Thank you for the reminder of all we have to be thankful for! The top of my list is my dog sleeping all day with her tongue out cause she’s lost her front teeth! Thanks for the good read and life lessons daily. Keep writing and loving well ❤️
Gena - November 5, 2020 4:49 pm
My 49 year old daughter, who had Down Syndrome, died this week from Alzheimer’s Disease. She, too, loved Andy and Barney, and barbecue, and pictures of her friends, and – well, many other things on your list. Your list gave me reason to smile today, and I thank you for that.
Frances Lester - December 5, 2020 5:56 pm
“Hands in the dirt!” It is always a good day when you plant something!
And this little poem from the front of our Golden Book of A Child’s Garden of Verses,
“A great gray elephant, a tiny yellow bee, a shiny white sailboat on a blue sea—
All these things you gave to me, when You made my eyes to see!
Thank you, God!”
And thanks to God for the sound of the wind in the pines, the waves on the shore, and the pileated woodpecker in our woods!
Keep us looking and listening!
Sharon Brocl - February 9, 2021 12:43 am
Hand quilting, crochet, embroidery; gardening and indoor planrs; John Wayne, Rock Hudson and Doris Day movies; chicken-fried steak, blackeyed peas with the snaps, mashed potatoes and cream gravy, and homemade hot biscuits; handcranked peach ice-cream; Christmas decorating; books, especially romance novels; horse racing, cats, and big, sloppy dogs.
Clark - February 9, 2021 12:38 pm
The smell of honeysuckle in the evening. The racket of blue jays outside your window when you wake up on a warm spring morning. Lying on a beach on a hot summer night watching heat lightning out over the gulf.
A fresh hot biscuit with a fried pork chop in it. Running your fingers over smoothly sanded wood.
Marilu - February 9, 2021 1:46 pm
Quoting “As a child, you thought life was going to last forever. But at this age, childhood seems like a dream you had last night.”
Bonida Kimbrough - October 17, 2021 3:27 am
The first and only time I saw William Lee Golden, in person, was at the Greene county fair in Paragould, Arkansas (1961?). His hair was so black it was blue, like Elvis’, remember? He was wearing a black silk suit, like the gospel quartets wore, and had the most beautiful smile. I was 10 and in love.
Charlton duncan - October 17, 2021 11:57 am
Sean thank you for your wonderful writings! Every one I read stirs something in my memory, my heart, there is always something I can relate to. I hope you continue to stir us up with your fantastic writing for MANY years to come!