“Three Simple Things,” May 11, 2021

Sometimes, when we don’t know what to say, it’s because what we want to say seems too complicated. But really, all we need is a few simple words.

I can think of at least three sentences that, nine times out of ten, will need no improvement, as long as you say them and mean them with all your heart.

First, “I’m sorry.” Everybody makes mistakes. Well, maybe you don’t, but I certainly do. If we say or do something that hurts someone, and we want to be forgiven, it doesn’t help much to say we didn’t mean to do it. (Or worse, to try explain why it’s not really our fault.) Hurt is hurt. Forgiveness begins with repentence. Saying “I’m sorry” opens the door to grace.

Second, “I love you.” I say or write those words countless times a day. I hope you do, too. Sometimes, for someone I hold most dear (like my husband and children and grandchildren and the wonderful woman who helps me clean my house) I’ll say, “I love you ALL.” Why? Because all is as much as we can possibly love. Saying it is not, of course, the same as showing it. Actions do speak louder than words. But even in a whisper, the words “I love you” speak loud and clear. The world needs all the love we can give. If we love someone, we should show and tell them often.

Third, “Thanks.” How many times a day do we say that? How many times do we mean it? We use it for most anything from “Thanks for passing the salt” to “Thanks for saving my life.” Sometimes it needs a bit more clarification. But a simple, heartfelt “thanks” is always better than no thanks at all.

I told you all of that to tell you this. I often write about my brother. Aside from being blind and suffering from cerebral palsy, Joe is probably the only human on Earth who smokes a pipe while wearing a beanie pulled down over his nose.

I am not making that up. You’d have to see it to believe it. And I truly wish you could.

Joe lives alone, wears braces on his legs and leans on a walker to get where he wants to go. His legs are getting weaker and he’s had some bad falls, but he tries not to let anything stop him.

Last week, I wrote a column to say Joe was hospitalized with Covid-19. He’d been vaccinated some time ago and his doctors said it might lessen the severity of his illness. He told me not to worry, this was another “rough patch” in his life, but he would “take it one day at a time and trust the Lord” to help him.

Watching my brother face a lifetime of rough patches has helped me face a few of my own. My hope in writing that column was that reading about him and his faith might help others, too.

Imagine how I felt this week to hear from a great many readers near and far who said they were sending Joe good wishes and praying for his healing.

Then, a few days after I wrote that he was ill, Joe was released from the hospital and instructed to stay in his apartment and not go out. When I asked him why he was released, he said, “’Cause I said I wanted to go home.”
He sounds better day by day. And I want to say three things:

First, I’m sorry. I wish I could do more to help my brother. But he doesn’t want help from me or you. He just wants our prayers.

Second, I love him ALL. For how he makes me laugh and drives me crazy. For his faith and determination to keep walking (“as long as the Lord allows it”) while pulling for the Clemson Tigers and ordering sandwiches from Jimmy John’s restaurant.

Third, finally, I want to say thanks to everyone who sent Joe good wishes and prayed for him.

Thanks for being someone who hears about a hard patch in a stranger’s life and is moved to help by sending kind thoughts or praying like a house on fire.

Thanks for being the love of God in this weary old world. You make it a better place. Not just for my brother, but for us all.



  2. Ellen Chrisman says

    So glad to hear that Joe is better, you and your family are like family to me! I will pray for him and for you, keep encouraging all of us with the stories from your heart. You are very much loved and appreciated.

  3. Kate Sciacca says

    Wonderful news! Hoping to read more good news next week 😊👍🏻

  4. Naomi Smith says

    i have been praying for Joe and for you and your family. I put you all on my prayer list as soon as I heard.

  5. Kathy S Crosbie says

    I am so glad your brother is better, I said a prayer for him. I always can’t wait to read your column, it is like getting a letter from an old friend. Your column makes me smile and sometimes cry but I love them. I will continue to pray for your brother and all of your family.. Thank you and God bless.

  6. Lynn Weiss says

    Blessings on your wonderful, special brother! Keeping him(and you) in my thoughts and prayers.

  7. Sarah Christopher says

    Sharon, Joe sets an example for all of us. There’s a song called ‘Don’t Let the Old Man In’ which basically to me says don’t be old, don’t think old, don’t act old. NEVER GIVE UP. That’s Joey. Bless him.
    Please ask your hubby to give you a hug for me and tell Bobbie and Joe I send them one also!
    With lots of love and thanks for your wonderful articles!

  8. Angela Walden says

    Sharon, I am so sorry Joe is going through tough stuff, he sure has had a heap of it. I will tell Julia as she loves to know how things are in your world, the good and the not so good. I am in a wonderful prayer group and will certainly ask all to pray for him. They are prayer warriors! Also if you do not know, Jules has an awesome man in her life and has had for over 2 years. He is a widower with 2 boys and she has stepped in like a trooper for all of them. She is still the hair queen and is stretched pretty thin with Dave and the boys. As she says, “It’s all good.” She gave me your book for Christmas and I hope you are working on the sequel as it was so wonderful and you left the door open! Congratulations on your publication, please keep them coming. Hope your family is healthy and safe. Much Love, Angie Walden (J Latella’s mom)

  9. CHope Hall says

    I admire your brother to the max. He is indeed a special person. Your advice to us is exactly correct. I always say I’m sorry and mean it. I might not get another chance and I never forget to tell special family and friends how much I love them. That could be how they remember me. My husband and I always say please, thank you, and I love you every day. Since it is just us and our 2 cats here of course there are times we get frustrated however we know that at most after 60 years of marriage our time together is not long at the most. We don’t need to waste that time arguing, etc. Love and prayers for you and yours always.

  10. Prayers for your brother & thanks to you for always putting a smile on my face or a tear in my eyes after reading straight from your heart!

  11. Susan Costanzo says

    So glad to hear that Joe is on the mend. Prayers sure do help 🙏

  12. God bless you Sharon and we love each word you write from heart. Happy to know your brother is at home. Love.

  13. Patti Peters says

    Your brother is truly a special person…

  14. Thank you for your honest writing. Love & prayers for you and Joe.

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