Today is an important day. Maybe one of the most important of my life. I have been looking forward to this day since childhood, and now that it’s here I don’t know how to feel.

Today is National Cow Appreciation Day.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You didn’t even know there was such a holiday. But it turns out there is. And in honor of this day, my wife’s 2003 Dodge Durango died in the post office parking lot with us inside it.

It was ninety-eight degrees outside. I tried to flag someone for help. Many of these people simply waved at me, then pointed to their wristwatches, and drove away.

So that’s where I am now, waiting for a tow truck, writing to you on my phone.

But like I said, nothing can bring me down today. Nothing. Because you know what else today is? The Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

That’s right. All year, we baseball fans have been waiting for our favorite players to form the All-Star team.

These are professional athletes who play the sport purely out of love. And also, because they make millions of dollars and sometimes throw huge parties on their yachts wherein partygoers drink so much champagne they push the piano overboard.

But.

That’s not why today is special, either. No, sir. Today has nothing to do with cattle, or baseball, or Dodge Durangos that are as dead as iced catfish.

Today is important because of an orange hardback book, stolen from the Nashville Public Library in the early 1980’s.

Let me explain:

This old dusty book dates back to my late father, who was an avid reader. He was a blue-collar man who worked on steel every day of his life, and he read two or three books per week.

I remember him reading this exact book when I was a kid. He was sitting in an easy chair, thumbing pages, holding a longneck bottle.

“Where’d you get that?” I asked.

“Library,” he said.

“Is it good?”

“One of the best books I ever read.”

When he died, I was twelve, and his books were scattered all over the house. Hundreds of them. And each book reminded me that he was gone forever.

Sometimes, I would hold these books for no apparent reason, thinking about how they were orphans now.

A book is a sacred thing, with feelings, and heart, and beauty. They are made to be loved, and touched. And it seemed like a crime that nobody would ever love my father’s books again.

So, I decided to read them. As many as I could. I started with the orange-backed novel. It was the size of a family Bible. The book was entitled “Papillon.”

Inside the cover was a stamp reading: “Nashville Public Library, 615 Church St.”

And I hated it. It was boring. I would have much rather been reading about Joe and Frank Hardy, the sons of Fenton Hardy, defenders of America.

But I read it anyway. When I finished it, I moved on to others. Such as James A. Michener’s “Texas,” which was about as fun as reading a Japanese textbook backwards with your face in a bench vice.

And over the years, I grew to understand my father by reading his books.

Robert Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth, Larry McMurtry, Pat Conroy, Flannery O’Connor, Michael Chrichton, Tom Clancy, Lewis Grizzard, Louis L’Amour. And I became a lover of words.

So today is special because of books. My whole day has been about books. Starting from 6:02 A.M., when I received a text message.

The text was from a buddy who lives in New York City. He sent me a photograph of a novel he had just bought in a bookstore. A book that was published today. And it had my name on the dust jacket.

His message read: “Congratulations, man!”

Another friend in Tallahassee found a copy. And a friend in Sacramento. And Raleigh.

And I had a pal in Tennessee text me, too. He found the book in a store, and sent me a picture of a female employee holding the book, smiling.

“Isn’t she a hottie?” his text read. “I’m gonna ask her out, wish me luck!”

Good luck, Brad. And as your friend, I do not say this lightly: Please wear deodorant.

I am a man with little education. I was not bright in school, a pitiful athlete, and I once lost the spelling bee to the word “orange.”

I am lazy, I haven’t cleaned my truck in fifteen years, and I am a writer who in many circles is kown as th king if typoes. I don’t have any idea what I’m doing with my life, and the older I get, the less I get it.

But today, I feel alive. So alive, in fact, I don’t know what to do. There have been three days in my life that were this special. The day I got married, the day I finished college, and the day I finished reading an orange book that belonged to someone I once knew.

I only wish the owner of that book were here to read the one his son wrote.

Happy National Cow Appreciation Day.

The tow truck is here.

72 comments

  1. Jerenell Gorbutt - July 10, 2019 7:18 am

    Congratulations!!! I have been your fan for a few years. We moved to Lillian Alabama in 2013 from TN. Imagine my delight in finding a young man that could “show me the ropes with his words each morning!” You have delighted me. We are trying to sell our home on the bay and have moved back to TN but I am taking you with me and sharing your wisdom my and wit with my friends here. I can barely wait to purchase your book! Best of Luck with the sales! You are a winner!

    Reply
  2. Sandi. - July 10, 2019 7:57 am

    Sean, sincere congratulations of the release of your new book! I hope it’s a best seller and that a copy soon ends up in every library in the South, then on up north and out west! You paint such a deightful portrait of life here, and your keen observance of people and places is a talent well-honed. Take a bow. You deserve it.

    Reply
  3. Mrs. Kelley Dibble - July 10, 2019 8:57 am

    CONFRATULATIONS! (Oh, well! I think I’ll leave it. Lol!)

    Hip hip hooray from Guam,
    Kelley~

    Reply
  4. Barb Fisher - July 10, 2019 9:52 am

    Congratulations, Sean! I am on the waiting list for the book at the library here in Athens, AL. Can hardly wait to read it – my daughter bought me 2 of your previous books which I hope you will autograph when I see you in August. Best of luck with this new one, you are the present Lewis Grizzard! He would be so proud….

    Reply
  5. Rosalie Hyatt - July 10, 2019 10:04 am

    I received your book from Amazon yesterday. I was the envy of my little circle! They (and I) cannot wait to hear you Saturday night in Fairhope. We all read your posts daily. I wish you could see yourself as the writer that we do. We should know a good writer when we read one as we’re all middle school teachers! See you Saturday! ~Rosalie

    Reply
  6. Sonia Vey Tann - July 10, 2019 10:09 am

    Sean, congratulations! I also wish your daddy was here, he was a good friend, husband and dad. He loved you, your sister and mom. He was proud of you, just because you were his son, he was your biggest fan, but I’m sure he would’ve been first in line at the bookstore to buy your book!

    Reply
  7. Nancy Miller - July 10, 2019 10:18 am

    I am so proud of you, Sean! I can’t wait to buy your new book from my favorite local bookstore in Vicksburg, Mississippi – Lorelei Books. Two more weeks! In the meantime I’m on the Wait list at my public library here in San Antonio. BTW I *still* wanna give your fifth grade teacher a piece of my mind! (I taught first and second, myself – what in the world was wrong with that woman?) However, we will not dwell on the negatives but rise above. The day I found Sean of the South was a complete and total blessing!! Thank you!!

    Reply
  8. Camille - July 10, 2019 10:31 am

    Stars was delivered to my Kindle yesterday and I am as excited as Christmas morning!

    Reply
  9. Nancy - July 10, 2019 10:40 am

    Stars of Alabama was delivered to my house yesterday! My husband opened the package and brought it to me saying just two words, “It’s here!” I settled down with my prize to admire the cover, read the book jacket and the reviews on the back cover. You know just reading the first couple of pages if you’re going to be interested in a book or not. Well…I’m hooked! But I know I’m going to have to pace myself because I want to savor every word and get to know each character. Thank you, Sean, for giving us this gift. We appreciate you and your writing more than you’ll ever know. God bless!

    Reply
  10. Carolyn - July 10, 2019 10:49 am

    Congratulations Sean. I love YOUR orange book.
    Can’t imagine how proud your dad would be…or IS! Your readers sure are proud‼️

    Reply
  11. Laura King - July 10, 2019 10:53 am

    Congratulations!!! Well deserved!! Keep it coming!! Your words are true food for the soul!!

    Reply
  12. Constance - July 10, 2019 10:57 am

    Ordered your book just now. Can’t wait to dig in. Congratulations.

    Reply
  13. Lisbeth Garecht - July 10, 2019 11:11 am

    I’m so proud of you. That seems so insignificant to say to someone who doesn’t even know I exist. But somehow I know you will appreciate it. Congratulations, you are a success!

    Reply
  14. Janie F. - July 10, 2019 11:35 am

    As a wannabe writer for most of my 64 years I have a fairly good idea of how much having your book published means to you Sean. Congratulations to you and to Jamie for believing in you & encouraging you. Can’t wait to read the book.👏👏👏

    Reply
  15. sharon - July 10, 2019 11:43 am

    I always think the last one is your best one but this one was right up there with Best!

    Reply
  16. GaryD - July 10, 2019 11:45 am

    I grew up with Joe and Frank Hardy back in the 60’s.
    Congratulations on your book. I don’t get out much these days. Hope it’s on Amazon.

    Reply
  17. Karen - July 10, 2019 11:53 am

    This makes me so happy. Congratulations! Ordering your book on Amazon!

    Reply
  18. Shelton A. - July 10, 2019 12:23 pm

    Congrats on your book and sorry about the Durango.

    Reply
  19. LeAnne - July 10, 2019 12:27 pm

    Congratulations, Sean! I’m so excited for you! Ordering my copy right now.

    Reply
  20. Betty F. - July 10, 2019 12:30 pm

    Enjoy every minute of this day- and look for a bright red bird or a beautiful butterfly-it’s your Dad saying, “we’ll done”.

    Reply
    • Betty F. - July 10, 2019 2:42 pm

      “Well done”- didn’t catch that before sending

      Reply
  21. Melanie - July 10, 2019 12:32 pm

    Congratulations Sean. I recently ordered all your books (some of us are slow) for my Kindle. Will enjoy them all. Hope you can get Jamie’s truck fixed.

    Reply
  22. Robin B Kidd - July 10, 2019 12:35 pm

    Sean, Congrats on your big day, I am going to look for it! Thankful for your eyes that see and words that speak to us in so many ways.

    Reply
  23. Joe Patterson - July 10, 2019 12:40 pm

    Thanks Congratulations got to find the book

    Reply
  24. Janet Williams - July 10, 2019 12:42 pm

    SO GLAD to see you back in my inbox this morning! Thank you!

    Reply
  25. Heidi - July 10, 2019 12:50 pm

    I’ve never written a book but I imagine it’s a lot like birthing a baby…the preparations, the worry & struggle and then just the most profound, utmost joy! Congrats Sean on the birth of your baby. I know all your loved ones, including your Dad, are so very proud.❤️

    Reply
  26. Jan - July 10, 2019 12:54 pm

    Congratulations, Sean! Your book will be delivered to my house today according to the notification I received. I am so very happy and excited for you and Jamie! A dream come true and well deserved.

    Reply
  27. Farris - July 10, 2019 1:03 pm

    Stars of Alabama was waiting for me in my mailbox when I got home from work yesterday ! Surprise birthday present from my husband and I can’t wait to read it !!! Congratulations and best wishes for much success , love all your other books too 😊

    Reply
  28. Bill - July 10, 2019 1:12 pm

    Sean, Congratulations on your newest book! If you make any money off it, please buy Jamie a NEW vehicle. A 2003 vehicle is worn out. That’s older than my car, and it is hanging on with a prayer, and duct tape. Keep on writing, boy. You have the Gift!

    Reply
  29. Brenda McLaine - July 10, 2019 1:12 pm

    Saw it on Facebook while I was scrolling this morning. Looking forward to reading it.

    Reply
  30. Lynne - July 10, 2019 1:36 pm

    Congratulations! My book arrived yesterday!

    Reply
  31. Ellen M Brooks - July 10, 2019 1:46 pm

    I received my book yesterday! Congratulations!! Maybe someday you will be in Columbus, GA and will sign it for me. I love your writing and wish I could hug your neck!!! I’m originally from the Midwest but have lived in the South since 1992. I LOVE the South, there is no place like it. Your writing describes the people, and the place and, the culture of the south perfectly. Love you Sean of the South!! Ellen

    Reply
  32. Mary - July 10, 2019 1:49 pm

    Congratulations, Sean! Now you’re going to make me go to town and look for a book with your name on it….but sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do!

    Reply
  33. NANCY WALDREP - July 10, 2019 1:51 pm

    I don’t know you but enjoy your blogs. I have been reading them for a couple of weeks now as a friend forwarded the !first one to me. Congratulations on your first book. Reading the thoughts makes me think I do know you though we have never met and probably won’t ever. We share a commonality in the way we were raised, and I remember many
    of the things you write about in the blogs. Thanks for sharing. I’LL LOOK FOR YOUR BOOK.

    1

    Reply
  34. Nan Williams - July 10, 2019 2:05 pm

    LOVED Stars of Alabama! I was lucky enough to get an early copy from NetGalley. Congratulations on publication day!! I’m so very happy for you and hope that it’s the first of many!

    Reply
  35. Phil S, Montgomery, AL - July 10, 2019 2:07 pm

    Sean, I’m sure you are familiar with the works of Patrick F. McManus, author of tons of outdoor humor. Unfortunately, he passed away last year, but his hilarious writings live on as do those of Lewis Grizzard. Your style of dry, down-home humor reminds me very much of McManus. His books are available from Amazon. I encourage anyone who loves funny stories and crazy characters in an outdoor setting to check McManus out. Keep reading and writing.

    Reply
  36. Brenda - July 10, 2019 2:11 pm

    Got my copy yesterday and already half through it. Love it!

    Reply
  37. Kathie Kerr - July 10, 2019 2:39 pm

    Congrats. Speaking as someone who publicizes books for authors, I can tell you your work has just begun

    Reply
  38. Anne Chandler - July 10, 2019 2:39 pm

    Planning to see you and hear you speak either tonight in Gulf Shores or Saturday night in Fairhope. I’ll have my copy of your book with me, and I can hardly wait to meet the writer who speaks to me every day! Woohoo!

    Reply
  39. Pat - July 10, 2019 2:40 pm

    Congratulations, I know your dad is proud!

    Reply
  40. Jeanne Butler - July 10, 2019 2:47 pm

    Hi Sean I am in New Castle, Delaware, and will be getting your new book Stars of Alabama from Amazon next week. I ordered it in May. I can hardly wait. I have read all your books. Love them. Happy Cow Appreciation Day. Love you!!

    Reply
  41. Roy Rudolph - July 10, 2019 2:57 pm

    A friend of mine turned me on to your blog a couple of months ago. I read it every day and enjoy it. I have not read a book in years, but I just bought your new one. I’m even a little excited about reading it. Thanks.

    Reply
  42. Betty - July 10, 2019 3:06 pm

    Sean, I bet you didn’t know that this is also National Pina Colada Day. Even though I’m originally from WI this sounds more exciting than cows. Now I have to go look for your book.

    Reply
  43. Jones - July 10, 2019 3:17 pm

    Congratulations and enjoy every moment of the excitement and what’s to come!! I just bought your book from a local bookstore—-looking forward to reading it as I do all of your posts. Very happy and proud for you and Jamie!

    Reply
  44. Jack Darnell - July 10, 2019 3:22 pm

    Congratulations, imagine a book with a dust cover! WOW good on you. I am so glad for you. But just to lower you out of the clouds, the last tow we had from Montgomery to Atlanta Cummins (down town) total cost was over 17K. Just sayin’ I hope it was a dead battery! But I did enjoy the post and glad you had something to fill your time as you waited.
    From Lancaster, PA

    Sherry & jack

    Reply
  45. Linda Moon - July 10, 2019 3:57 pm

    Today, on National Cow Appreciation Day, my washing machine broke down and took me along with it. I’m glad the All-Star Game lifted you up, and more importantly: that orange hardback book. Books from Conroy, Grizzard, O’Connor, Charre’re and more reside on my many bookshelves. And yours is on the way to joining them! I wish your dad was here to read the one you wrote. There’s another dad I wish was here for his sons. Each day for me, after 14 years of battling and surviving cancer, is an Appreciation Day! But soon I’ll be off in the heat to shop for a new washing machine.

    Reply
  46. Jeri Blom - July 10, 2019 4:03 pm

    Congratulations Sean!! Your book came yesterday, I read 6 chapters and can’t wait to read more today. I ❤️ it! Thank you for meaning more to me very morning as I read your words!
    Jeri

    Reply
  47. Donnie - July 10, 2019 4:41 pm

    Oh, Sean, congratulations. I can’t wait to get your book and read it. So proud of what you have accomplished. You put them in the right order – marriage, college and career. I understand these successes are all built on the foundation of your faith. Well done.

    Reply
  48. Susan Kennedy - July 10, 2019 4:58 pm

    Congratulations!! Got mine yesterday from Amazon!!

    Reply
  49. Kathy Coxwell - July 10, 2019 5:14 pm

    I was an English major in college. Should have been in History, but where I went, it seemed only the boys gravitated to that field. Of course I was supposed to read tons of English novels, American, etc. A lazy student, I built my answers on Cliff’s Notes.
    Since reading your post, I plan to go to my library and get the dusty Faulkners, Hardys, Dickens, etc. down and read what I should have read 50+ years ago.
    Thank you, Sean, for the well-needed kick in the seat of my pants. I’d rather be re-reading Nancy Drew, but I will start with something a bit more challenging.
    Kathy Coxwell

    Reply
  50. Annak - July 10, 2019 5:32 pm

    Congratulations, Sean! I sure do look forward to reading this and all the books you’ve yet to write. Keep on keeping on – and be sure that your dad knows and is so proud of you.

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  51. Debbie - July 10, 2019 5:54 pm

    Way to go Sean–we’re all proud of you!

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  52. Ailene - July 10, 2019 6:00 pm

    Congratulations! Received my book yesterday—hope to see you in person one day and have it autographed😊

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  53. Minnie Bourque - July 10, 2019 6:57 pm

    Congratulations, Sean!! I cannot wait to order and read your book! Continued success! I know that man and his wife are so very proud of their son!! Who wouldn’t be?!

    Reply
  54. Cynthia Harmon - July 10, 2019 7:46 pm

    Congratulations Sean! When I opened up my email from BAM! YOUR BOOK is this week’s top pick!! I can’t wait to read it. So excited for you🎉

    Reply
  55. Teri - July 10, 2019 7:52 pm

    Just bought the last two copies at the Barnes and Nobel in Destin. So happy for you!! Only wish I could have had them autographed. No worries!! Keep posting. You make my morning every day!! AND by the way, I agree with you about old fashioned homemade ice cream 😋

    Reply
  56. Heather - July 10, 2019 10:13 pm

    I read a lot but mostly books borrowed from the library. I just ordered yours and can’t wait to receive it. You are one of my all time favorite people.

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  57. Lynda Hancock - July 10, 2019 10:14 pm

    Congratulatioms Sean! So happy for you – and your readers. So well-deserved and I wish you every success!

    Reply
  58. Robigirls - July 10, 2019 10:58 pm

    Car trouble is the worst! Glad that tow truck arrived. I Love my Colorado Rockies so I was was happy anytime I can watch baseball or see a game in town. 🙂 Love the All Stars not so much the outcome last night. Oh well, We will get the American League next time around. My father was a Yankee man. I wish he could have lived to see our great state get their own team. My dad played the game, semi pro long before I was dreamed of. He was a catcher. I have a thing about catchers. Tony Wolter one of our catchers is classic old school. I love when he is behind the plate. Anyway dad played in an exhibition game in 1938 at Runyon Field in our hometown. He caught behind the plate when the great Babe Ruth was up to bat. He had a ball autographed by the Babe. But my oldest brother was the lucky one who received it, gave it to his son who sold it. Keep loving baseball, afterall it is AMerica’s sport like apple pie and hot dogs!

    Reply
  59. Sherry Thomas - July 11, 2019 12:46 am

    Congratulations Sean! I was introduced to you by my sister, Sheila. She adored you and not long after the introduction, I joined her in the Sean of the South fan club. Before she died in April, we would share the joy over a cell phone call to each other (she lived in DeFuniak Springs, I’m in Pensacola) of experiencing the hard-to-put-into-words “gift” you have of putting things —– life, love, joy, grief, and so much more……..into words <3 Thank you (as she and I would say) for living into that gift ! I understand a little of your words of wishing your dad was here today to enjoy/experience such a special time in your life as I desperately wish I could share this day, your today, with her. But, as others have commented, maybe I am.

    Reply
  60. Marci - July 11, 2019 1:45 am

    Congratulations! I’ll buy one.

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  61. Candice - July 11, 2019 2:14 am

    Beautiful! Congratulations!❤️

    Reply
  62. Jan - July 11, 2019 8:30 pm

    How can anyone who reads you daily not feel a sense of pride in your latest accomplishment? I do! Many of us don’t know you, and may never meet you, but feel like we know you and love you for what you bring to us daily. You are a treasure. Big congrats!!!

    Reply
  63. Janet Mary Lee - July 11, 2019 9:16 pm

    Waiting eagerly for your book which is coming tonite!! You have given us all a wonderful gift!! The truck going out was to keep you humble!

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  64. Peggy Murdock - July 11, 2019 10:02 pm

    I got it on Nook, and will start enjoying it tonight. Thanks for the heads up, Sean.

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  65. Sheila - July 12, 2019 1:03 am

    So happy for you Sean! Congratulations!

    Reply
  66. Steve Winfield - July 12, 2019 4:58 am

    Well, I’ve certainly been waiting on it, too. Honestly, I didn’t even know the title until now. I’ve bought & read Volume 1, Small Towns & Labradors, Boiled Peanuts, & The Other Side of the Bay. Thoroughly enjoyed all but “The Bay” is my fav, if I had to pick. I’m not the kind of reader that knocks out 50 a year. Some years five, some years one. Mostly biographies of people I’m interested in. Einstein, Gene Simmons, you never know. And Cook books. I like those too. Like so many others, you’ve sparked an interest with me. I’m just always interested in what you have to say, always wanting a little more. Almost 60 now & my sleep is irregular, I wake at odd times. Your email hits around 2:30 AM. If I wake after that I’ll catch your blog before I return to bed. You’ve become quite a part of my life & I’ve shared you with many of my friends. Thanks for all your writings & for sharing your life with us. It’s a special club & I’m honored to be a member.
    Love you. Steve

    Reply
  67. Jackie - July 13, 2019 7:02 pm

    Love this! I’m sure your Daddy is very proud of you! Congratulations! Love you!

    Reply
  68. Tawanah Bagwell - July 16, 2019 2:34 am

    I am proud of you and for you! You are a real writer and you really touch people’s hearts, including mine!

    Reply
  69. Jennifer Suenes - July 16, 2019 6:03 pm

    Congratulations! I pre-ordered my copy as soon as I heard about it. Now it’s waiting for me to get started on it! Can hardly wait.

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  70. Genie - July 17, 2019 2:33 pm

    Congratulations Sean!! I just downloaded your book to read on my Kindle & I can’t hardly wait to start reading!

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  71. Estelle - July 19, 2019 9:16 pm

    Just sent your column to a cousin of mine. She read one of them and was enchanted. Your words go everywhere even a little town in west Tennessee called Bollivar.

    Reply

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