A picture, some say, is worth a thousand words. Especially if it is seen through the eyes of love.
Recently, after Clemson lost its first football game of the year, ending any hopes for an undefeated season, I called my brother in South Carolina to offer my condolences.
He didn’t answer. I wasn’t surprised. He probably wasn’t in much of a talking mood.
Joe is totally blind. He has never seen a football. But saying that he loves the Clemson Tigers is like saying God loves sinners. There is no way to explain it. Love is love. It’s just how it is.
Joe’s devotion to Clemson began when he married Tommie Jean. She, too, was totally blind, and a big Clemson fan. They were students together at the state school for the blind, but met years later through mutual friends. They dated three weeks before they were married.
Upon hearing the news, our mother threw a fit, questioning both the wisdom of the decision and Joe’s mental health.
His reply was simple, but resolute: “Mama,” he said, grinning, “even a blind man can fall in love at first sight.”
They were married for 10 years, constant companions, the light of each other’s lives, faithfully following Clemson’s games on the radio.
Then, in a matter of weeks, he lost her to cancer. For a while, after her death, Joe seemed to lose all enthusiasm for things like football and life.
Imagine my relief the night I called him after a Clemson victory and heard again that old spark back in his voice.
We all need something or someone to pull for. My brother pulls for Clemson. I pull for him. I’m no big fan of football, but I’ll be forever in its debt.
Last week, after I left him a message that said, in effect, “Sorry about your Tigers, call me or else,” Joe called me back.
We spoke briefly about the loss. Joe was philosophical.
“Maybe it was good they lost a game, just to keep ’em humble and playing their best.”
“Maybe so,” I said.
“Georgia Tech was better this time than when we saw them,” he added, referring to a game we attended a year ago, where each time Clemson scored, Joe clapped like a wind-up monkey and danced to the Tiger Rag.
“Yes,” I said, “they were.”
Then, to my surprise, he said he didn’t call to talk about football. Instead, he wanted to tell me how happy he was to get the photo of his baby nephew.
Baby nephew? Of course. He meant Henry, my 2-month-old grandson. My daughter had sent birth announcements with a photo of Henry looking like a very wise, very old man.
“How did you know it was Henry?” I teased, as if I’d forgotten Joe gets a friend to read his mail for him.
“Well, Sister,” he said, “I held the picture up to my eyes and pretended I could see it. And I could! He had a big smile and a full head of hair, cute as he could be. I saw him perfectly!”
For a moment, I closed my eyes and pictured Joe as a baby, not much older than Henry. I was 4 when he was born. I remember the day my mother told me that he was blind.
“He can’t be blind,” I said. “He always smiles at my face.”
“He smiles at your voice,” she said. “He’ll never see your face.”
It’s hard to resist making predictions for our children and grandchildren. We want to see their futures, what their lives will be like, the things they’ll do, the kind of people they will be.
We wonder what will become of them. How will they ever survive without us? It’s an age old question, one that our parents and grandparents often wondered about us.
My mother was wrong about my brother. Even a blind man can see his baby nephew.


  1. Katie Pace Pcenicni says

    Sharon , I graduated Landrum High School in 1967. I enjoyed this column so much plus Steve Hyder has let me read your columns before. It seems he was on a trip out west and maybe bought a paper and you were in it and has now ordered that paper or magazine. Anyway this was touching and beautiful. The love of our family means so much to us. Keep writing and have a wonderful Winter. Sending well wishes from your hometown. Katie Pace Pcenicni

    • Sharon Randall says

      Katie, thanks so much for your lovely note. I go “home,” as we say, to Landrum, as often as I can, and it is never often enough. I keep hoping someone (hint, hint!) will plan another big reunion where we can all get together. 🙂 I’ll hope to see you next time I’m in town. Best to you and your family!

  2. Found your website, yea! Your column is the first thing I read in our Grand Island Daily Independent. Many times your true to life stories touch my heart. I think you write very beautifully. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sharon Randall says

      Thanks, Lora, i think you write very beautifully, too! 🙂 Say hello to the sandhill cranes for me (when they come back to town!)

  3. Susan Hampton says

    Hey Sharon. . .wait til you hear from your brother about today’s game with Wake Forest. It was a doozy.

    • Sharon Randall says

      Thanks, Susan, we watched it. My brother isn’t answering his phone. I suspect he’s probably still outside dancing the Tiger Rag. 🙂

  4. Kathy Russell says

    Sharon…. I am so excited !!! Your column here does not come out until our Sunday paper. Now I can get online 5 days ahead of time and read your wonderful words. I agree with the previous poster who said you were given the talent of using words to bring happiness and thoughtfulness into the world. I’m so glad you use your talent and we get to share in all of this. And I’m glad to hear you’re writing a novel… now, just get busy on it !!!!

  5. Sharon, I LOVE your column – it brings tears to my eyes most everytime I read it ….You have been blessed with the gift of using words to bring happiness and thoughtfullness into the world..thank you.

    • Sharon Randall says

      Thanks, Becky. I think you, too, have been blessed with the gift of bringing happiness and thoughtfulness to the world!:)

  6. Deb Smiddy says

    So good to read your columns, like the cool side of the pillow on a hot summer night!
    Love you girlfriend!

  7. Welcome back! I’ve really missed reading your columns.

  8. Vicki in Monterey says

    Hi Kiddo – have I told you lately that I love your baby bro?

    love u2, Vicki

Speak Your Mind