I think about you sometimes. Especially during summer, when families get together for picnics and fireworks. When fathers wear T-shirts that read: “World’s Greatest Dad.”
I like those.
You’re the son I never had. You never existed, but I still think about you.
Mostly, I wonder what color your hair would have been. I have a feeling it would’ve been red—like your old man’s.
My daddy had red hair, too. And even though he died long ago, sharing his hair color makes me feel less alone.
I would’ve taught you baseball. Chances are, you would’ve been awful at it—just like me.
But I love the game. And I love what goes with it. The hot dogs, the twenty-five-dollar beers, screaming in the stands. Fathers and sons.
I’ve gone to many games alone. I would’ve made sure you didn’t.
I would’ve told you stories. That way, you could’ve had a million to tell your own redhead one day. I think all World’s Greatest Daddies need stories. Good ones. Tales that make their sons proud.
The few I have of my own father are precious.
Anyway, I’m not a teacher, but I would’ve taught you. Things like: how to play “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” on a guitar, how to eat ice cream sandwiches, how to gig frogs, and how to speak slow when delivering a punchline.
I would’ve shown you how to bait a hook, clean a bream, and use words like, “I love you,” too much.
You would’ve learned to open doors for girls, and how to apologize to a woman with heart.
I would’ve learned from you. You would’ve discovered that I made a lot of mistakes.
But I would’ve told you that this world is not all Memorial-Day sunshine and flowers—even though I wish it were. That the problem is that people are selfish. Every last person. Even your old man.
But, there is also something in the air that cancels out selfishness. And it watches over you, whether you choose to believe it or not. Your old daddy has seen it. He’s touched it.
I once sat inside a wrecked Ford, on the side of a Georgiana highway, and I felt it. It’s more than a heartwarm feeling, it’s a friend.
It helps you do hard things, like being strong for someone who isn’t. Like burying a good dog.
It’s the same force of nature that gave me red hair. And it does this so people like us can look in mirrors and see our entire ancestry on our heads.
Seeing such things makes a body grateful. Because your own reflection—your nose, mouth, and ears—doesn’t only belong to you. It belongs to the people who came before you. Folks who were kind enough to pass their faces down to you.
Ordinary underdogs, who once went through the same hell of living you’re going through.
Seeing all that in a foggy bathroom mirror makes you feel less afraid. It makes you remember the most important thing any person could ever know on planet earth.
That you are not alone.
And neither am I.
Sam Hunneman - May 28, 2017 3:34 pm
Writing, fishing, reaching out, remembering what Memorial Day is all about… thanks for that reminder about selfishness today, Sean. I hope that we can all remember that “a rising tide floats all boats”, and that love does so much more than fear and hate to improve the species.
George Buchanan - May 28, 2017 3:55 pm
Every word you said is so true. I look in the mirror and I see my Daddy. Fortunately, we had two sons that can do the same when I’m gone. Live you stories- please never stop writing. Happy Memorial Day.
Steven Bailey - May 28, 2017 4:02 pm
You are a good writer.
Catherine G. Talpas - May 28, 2017 4:09 pm
Love your prose! It’s never too late, our surprise daughter arrived when I was 45. Thank your for sharing your eloquent gift.
Jan - May 28, 2017 4:48 pm
As always, special words from a special person. How do I know, you may ask, since we have never met face to face. The truth is right there … in your words and the way you look at life and see people. You are one very special person and you make our world a better place!
LeAnne Storey - May 28, 2017 5:47 pm
I love your writing. But you look younger the way you wear your hair now so you need to update your picture. So the red hair is noticeable. And again, I love your writing.
Jack Quanstrum - May 28, 2017 7:04 pm
Great story! It makes me think about my dad. All the stories he told about the Great Depression, world War II which he was in and the day his Dad my Grandfather saw Babe Ruth point his bat out to the outfielder when the Yankees played the Cubs at Wrigley Field and the next pitch went out of the park for a home run. I could go on and on but I will stop. Leaving you with the greatest thing he taught me,never give up and eventually you will succeed. How true it is! Thank you, Sean.
Michael Bishop - May 28, 2017 7:54 pm
Just wanted you to know that I used your column “My Cup Runneth Over” in a Sunday school lesson today on the 23rd Psalm, with what I hope was your tacit permission, because the last two lines of this column today, “World’s Greatest Dad,” reiterate the message of assurance in that earlier piece of yours and also in the “nightingale of Psalms,” the 23rd. Thank you and blessings.
Judy Miller - May 28, 2017 8:41 pm
You’d make a fine Daddy. Why don’t you adopt?
Betty Kelly - May 28, 2017 10:14 pm
That is the most beautiful and touching thing that you have written. Betty in Dothan. Remember me? You let me pull your beard.
April Seay - May 28, 2017 11:22 pm
So much of what you write speaks straight to our hearts! My husband and I were also unable to have children and Shane’s dad passed away 20 years ago. You share so much of the same raw emotion we have felt over and over. We love our life and are beyond blessed by what God has given us and allowed us to do but, it does make you feel a little less alone to know someone else feels the same. Please keep sharing your amazing gift!
Nancy Kane - May 29, 2017 1:38 am
Everybody’s dad is the world’s greatest dad… the great… and the all the rest…