“Don’t kiss a girl without being prepared to give her your last name.”
My granny said that.
My father once said this: “If you so much as touch a cigarette, you might as well tear up half your paychecks from now on.”
My mother’s axiom, however, is my all-time favorite: “It’ll be be okay.”
It might sound like a simple phrase, but my mother said this often. Whenever things were running off the rails. Whenever a girl broke my heart. Whenever I lost my job. Whenever I cried.
Whenever I had a common cold I believed to actually be, in fact, tuberculosis. She said this—I needed her to say it.
She also said: “Cleaning your plate means ‘I love you, Mama.’”
And this is why I was an overweight child.
I could keep going all day.
“Don’t answer the phone when you got company over,” my Uncle John once said. “It’s just flat rude.”
This one is from my elderly friend, Mister Boots: “Smartphones have made stupid people.”
My grandfather said: “Anything worth doing is worth waiting until next week to do it.”
My mother once said: “Carry deodorant in your truck, for crying out loud. You smell like you’ve been roping billy goats.”
Said the man named Bill Bonners, in a nursing home, from his wheelchair: “I never wanted to be a husband, I really didn’t want that. But I just couldn’t breathe without her around me.”
He died four days after his wife passed.
And one childhood evening, I was on a porch with my friend’s father, Mister Allen James—who was whittling a stick—and he said:
“Boys, if you marry ‘up,’ you’ll have to attend a lotta parties you don’t wanna go to. Remember that.”
I never forgot it.
On the day of my father’s funeral, a preacher came through the visitation line and said: “No man ever truly dies. Not really.”
I’ve said this at a few funerals myself because I believe it.
Said the seventh-grade teacher named Miss Rhonda, who was passing around a basket for students to place cellphones into:
“Playing on your phone in public is like peeing on a telephone pole; unless it’s a life-or-death emergency, it should be done in private.”
From my pal’s father, Mister Jimmy: “When you’ve loved a good woman, poetry starts to make sense.”
From my father: “A man is ugliest when he’s jealous.”
My uncle said: “Don’t fall in love with her hair-color, eye-color, or figure. Fall in love with her mama, her brother, and her sisters.”
And this one: “When you’re older, you’ll realize that being right ain’t nearly as fun as you thought it would be.” Elderly Mister Tommy said that while we were fishing.
My father’s friend, Dale, once said: “Don’t ever make the mistake of being seventy-two. Nobody forgives you for that. Be seventy-three instead.”
Said my friend Louis: “I like cats better than dogs. Dogs don’t judge you, or hold things against you. A guy can be a real jerk and still be a dog guy. But if you’re not nice to a cat, he’ll burn your house down while you sleep.”
My aunt’s immortal words: “I can tolerate a lot of things, but ignorance ain’t one of them.”
And my friend, the hospital chaplain, who died last year:
“I never met a man who was dying that wasn’t at peace with it. There’s something mysterious that happens, I can’t explain it. That’s why I believe in Heaven. Most anyone in our field does.”
And my friend, the author, once told me: “To be a writer is to be a homeless man who can type really fast.”
My friend, Lyle, who watches ball games with me once said: “Don’t try to hit a home run, just sit down, eat a hotdog, and let someone else strike out.”
From my old boss, Mister Carl: “When you’re a kid, you just wanna be an adult so bad you can taste it. But when you’re an adult, you’re just so fat.”
A deacon in our old church once said to me: “Biloxi, Mississippi, was invented for Baptists by Episcopalians.”
My granddaddy once spoke to me about choosing friends: “Don’t ever go fishing with anyone who you wouldn’t let marry your sister.”
And this one’s from me:
I hope you never forget the people who made you into the person you are today. I hope their words always stick with you. And may I forever remember my mother’s gentle wisdom, no matter how bad life seems.
“It’ll be okay.”
Because I believe it will.
Cynthia Saunders - September 7, 2018 6:40 am
Lately my favorite saying is, “God can make a way where there is no way.” Believe this to my bones!
Judy - September 7, 2018 6:54 am
Your mother was on to something. Your writing constantly reassures us, “It’ll be okay.” Thank you for that reminder.
Judy - September 7, 2018 6:58 am
^^^ Thank you for the reminders.
Marilyn Vance - September 7, 2018 8:56 am
….and even when it’s not okay, it will be…….waiting is the hard part.
Judy McCall - September 7, 2018 10:22 am
I have two that I say quite often. “There are no accidents”. And “everything will work out, it always does”.
I am so behind on your reads, Sean. What beautiful events you share. I really appreciate your amazing talent. Coming from the south, I can relate to a great deal of your stories. Lots of places you speak of I have been to or through. God bless you, from Maine!
Laurie A Wasilewski - September 7, 2018 10:23 am
Once again, just beautiful. Starting my day reading what Sean has to say is absolutely wonderful. Thanks, Sean!
James - September 7, 2018 10:53 am
Faith is not about everything turning out okay! It is about being okay no matter how things turns out!!
Nancy Shields - September 7, 2018 10:53 am
My mother died 6 days ago at age 88. I’ve been making a list of things she said/taught me. We are surrounded by wise people – if we will just listen. Two of my favorites from my mama –
Leave your campsite neater and cleaner than it was when you got there. ( she meant that metaphorically ) and
You can learn how to handle any of life’s problems by watching ANDY GRIFFITH (Although in her later years she thought Judge Judy came in a close second. )
ponder304 - September 7, 2018 11:24 am
Yes, it will all work out on wash day!
Linda - September 7, 2018 11:27 am
Mother always told me, “Keep your chin up!”
It helps. Miss you, Mom!
Connie Havard Ryland - September 7, 2018 11:44 am
I needed that this morning. Thank you.
Paul E. Click - September 7, 2018 12:16 pm
“Words. Like a single match , in a sea of gasoline!” Baxter Black, DVM
Remembered by Paul Click, DVM
Roxanne - September 7, 2018 12:25 pm
“I feel like I’ve been sent for and can’t go.” My Granny
“Be sweet.” My Momma
“A man has two ears and one mouth, which means he should listen twice as much as he talks.” My Pawpaw
“A vent blows one way.” My husband
“Just keep it between the ditches.” My Daddy
“You know what happens when you fly by the seat of your pants? You get messed up pants.” Me
Jeanne Butler - September 7, 2018 12:41 pm
All great. I especially like the one about smartphones. That’s so true. Love you Sean
Carol - September 7, 2018 12:48 pm
And it is!! No matter what we face throughout our lives!
Believe it or not it usually gets better! You may not ever forget but it gets better and you learn to except and live with it . God see’s to that if we Believe in him and his Love for us! God Bless you and your’s Sean!
Virginia Hamlin - September 7, 2018 1:07 pm
Norma Napoleone - September 7, 2018 1:20 pm
My day starts reading your blog. Today you helped me put the finishing touch on an Eulogy for a very good friend. No words can express my regard and respect for you.
Arlene McCarthy - September 7, 2018 1:37 pm
I really like your columns. Thank you so much
Steven P Bailey - September 7, 2018 1:46 pm
Wonderful. Needed this right now.
Gary Hillyer - September 7, 2018 1:59 pm
My mother told me never turn down a breath mint when it is offered to you.
Brenda McLaine - September 7, 2018 2:13 pm
Love you Sean. Nuff said.
Donna - September 7, 2018 2:30 pm
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these pearls of wisdom…especially the one about Biloxi. Oh, and, of course, your daily posts, Sean. They are the best way to start a day!
Edna B. - September 7, 2018 2:38 pm
Wonderful words of wisdom from your friends and family. I love the one about the smartphone. How true it is! Thank you Sean, you have a fabulous day. Hugs, Edna B.
Pat - September 7, 2018 2:50 pm
A friend that I once worked with and I would talk about our mother’s “sayings”. We both thought we should write a book (never did) and title it “Mama Say”.
Mama said a lot, but one of my favs was “keep your mouth shut, your eyes and ears open and you will be amazed how much you can learn”.
Shelton Armour - September 7, 2018 3:05 pm
That sounds like Episcopalian mischief. This coming from a cradle Episcopalian.
dragons4me3 - September 7, 2018 3:18 pm
My mom always said to me and my sisters: “You can be anything you want to be if you want it bad enough.” None of us are rich, but boy, are we confident…
Betty - September 7, 2018 3:30 pm
“Better late than never” was a saying I seemed to live by. I have gotten better but it still applies whether for a thank you note or a sympathy card or whatever. Even if you are late it shows you were thinking about the person.
Carleen T. - September 7, 2018 4:01 pm
Handle every stressful situation like a dog. If you can’t eat it or play with it, just pee on it and walk away.
Pamela McEachern - September 7, 2018 4:12 pm
I think I just want to hear “Everything’s gonna be ok”….
Peace and Love from Birmingham
Ava McCurley - September 7, 2018 4:37 pm
My mother always said “no matter how ugly somebody else acts, you be sure to act pretty”. My mother-in-law said “don’t start anything without you finish it, no matter how bad it looks when you’re done”. Love your writing.
Carolyn Nicholson - September 7, 2018 4:49 pm
I live by your mom’s words of wisdom. They’re very similar to what Mother always told me, “It’ll look better in the morning,” and it always seems to be. We had wise mamas.
Ann Marie Vickery - September 7, 2018 5:00 pm
Gwen - September 7, 2018 6:56 pm
Awww. Loved that. Made me think:my Daddy told me in the only heart to heart talk we ever had when I got “dating age”: “Now honey remember, always respect yourself and others will too”.
jnearen - September 7, 2018 8:16 pm
Good one Sean! Several of these made me laugh out loud.
Mary C - September 7, 2018 9:49 pm
A friend said this to me and I’ve used it ever since: “Better to be silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”
Judy Riley - September 7, 2018 11:02 pm
My Mother, “Judy there is no one better than you, but you are no better than anyone either.” Yes Momma….
From my Grandmother, “He doesn’t have enough sense to pour pee out of a boot….with the instructions written on the heel.”
From my Father, “Remember Dude, paper will lay still for anything to be written on it.”
Love your column! Look forward to seeing you again in Marianna at Chipola College!
Gaynell Lumsden - September 8, 2018 12:02 am
Yes- I say it often to my son “Everything will be OK” It always encourages and gives him hope. How about this one from a humble PhD miccobiologist “I dont suffer fools gladly”
Kathy - September 8, 2018 12:05 am
After spending a few years in Mississippi, I believe that one! ?
Carlene - September 8, 2018 12:27 am
You write the best articles and I enjoy every one of them.
Frances Shehan - September 8, 2018 1:13 am
My Daddy always told me, “Don’t let the bas***ds get you down”. I tell myself that almost daily.
Jack Darnell - September 8, 2018 2:02 am
Okay, now you have me skeered. I am driving off and leaving Blackie, a feral cat I have been feeding behind my house. She better not burn it down when I’m gone!
Of course I enjoyed this. I love common sense wit. I was raised by a man with a 3rd grade education with a world of common sense. He once told me:Son you ain’t ver tall if you must pull everyone else down.
And I have enjoyed all your commenters ‘sayings’ also. You started a rolling snow ball.
Donna - September 8, 2018 3:11 am
Don’t forget Rick Rigsby’s graduation speech in which he says “Ego is the anesthesia that deadens the pain of stupidity.” Another good one.
Jack Quanstrum - September 8, 2018 4:55 am
Amen to that! Great lines. Totally enjoyed them. They are interesting, somewhat true and some humorous. Thank you. I like yours the best!
Susie Munz - September 8, 2018 9:34 am
Good lesson “Take time to listen and contemplate advice of others”, especially your momma!
Chuck - September 8, 2018 1:04 pm
Maybe one of my favorite Sean posts. The fact that you can remember all of those is a miracle bordering on “walking on water”..I will be stealing some of those wonderful quote. Sean: Thanks again for just being YOU !!
Clark Hining - September 8, 2018 4:07 pm
My mother told me “ it’s ignorant to laugh at ignorance”.
Whenever I was training new ups drivers I told them this: Don’t try to be fast, be smooth and fast will take care of itself.
Jo Brooks - September 8, 2018 10:11 pm
Thank you. I needed this exact column today. Especially your mom’s words; “It will be okay”. I have to remind myself about that from time to time. I clung to it when my son was deployed and he came back a bit worse for the wear but still okay. And now I cling to it as my husband heads for 5-bypass surgery. You have to believe or you will drive yourself crazy with worry when you can’t really do anything about it.
Robert Chiles - September 8, 2018 11:47 pm
Couples used to come to me for advice when they wanted to get married, and I would tell them, “It’s not about money, or good looks, or sex, the thing to do is to find someone who talks the right amount- not too much, but enough.”
Gerald - November 3, 2018 2:53 pm
Robert, SO TRUE. My wife of 54 years has Altzheimers and absolutely the thing I miss the most is our conversations. We talked about it all; sadly no more.
Karen Hughes - November 1, 2019 4:03 pm
I love your column, and I love this one. But, one comment has been praying on my mind since September. Why won’t people ever forgive you for being 72, so be 73 instead? I turned 72 today, and I don’t know why I need to skip to 73!
Jessica Murray - March 15, 2021 12:25 pm
My Aunt Jane always said, “There’s no one so righteous as a reformed whore”, and she was absolutely correct. Two years after I quit smoking (after a lifetime of the habit) my doctor asked if I was still not smoking. I responded that I was far beyond the urge to smoke, that I was in fact to the point of being able to “walk past smokers and glare at them distastefully.”
My father always said, “I taught you kids everything I know and you STILL don’t know anything!” Sadly, Daddy was also absolutely correct.