(Take your time, these words go down better deliberate and slow…..)
Grandpap’d sit all us Goodwells down near ever night. Jest fer a spell, he’d say, jest fer a spell. Most always ’twas just Grandpap holding court, requirin’ only we be real good listeners and answer the odd question, when the situation called for. Weren’t no discussion. really, so much as a ponderation of the world hindsight and henceforth. Lord A’Mighty, and I ain’t cussin’, I’m callin’ down His praises, we durned reveled and delighted in these come-togethers.
Sometime’s, Grandpap, he’d be a’totin’ his Bible. and don’t never place anything on a’top his Bible, not even a Sunday School quartlerly. You’ll get some attention right now, I tell you what! And o’course, them lessons was fine. Can’t never find ana-thang askance when it comes to the Word o’ God. Sometime other, he’d fairly poke finger holes in some disappointin’ bit in the Denton County newspaper. ‘Shore don’t see eye to eye with them Republican fatcats, Grandpap did not. “See here?” he’d seethe? “See here?” Them lessons was more’n likely pepper hot, all us kids suckin’ in guffaws and waterin’ out our eyeballs.
Like as not, though, he’d pull his woodcarvin’ tool out his overhall pocket, a special skinny blade give from his own Grandpap last century or so, then he’d go to commencin’ t’whittlin’, say, a pair of hound dogs for Lewis and Lawton, or a proper shim for that crookedy dinin’ table. All the while just a’shootin’ the breeze. Whatever come to mind. Them times is always, time past and comin’ a’fore, my clear on favorite.
Wudn’t never a time o’ year, nor a time o’day what couldn’t be used for the family gatherin’. Now’days, neither.
Come Summertime evenin’s, we, all us kids, we’d stretch out on the almost-soft wide-bladed crabgrass huggin’ the base all ’round the big ol’ oak out back. Now, Livie, she claimed grasses (and mowin’, and scads o’other things) made her sneeze, so she’d bring herself a blanket, tucked and smoothed and stretched and laid out just so. Layin’ down flatbacked, the rest us kids was scattered over here and over there, and near most ever’where, seein’ as there’s eight o’us children most times. We’d be a’gazin’ up at the purple twilight, maybe even chewin’ on a blade of that grass. Mama and Daddy, they’ll slide up a chair from the back porch or old stump forgoin’ the choiceness of the yard.
Mama don’t like to dirty her dress if she don’t have to. And Daddy don’t abide her sittin’ alone much.
And Grandpap, he’s like t’grab his ol’ three-legged milkin’ stool out the barn. It’s a Summertime signal, that is. We get all lit up when we see him anglin’ somewhere r’other with that ol’ thing.
Then there comes Wintertime. Jest as heartwarmin’, with jest a little more crowdin’, seein’ as we all tuck inside ’round or near the woodstove for heat and comfort. My spot’s just behind the parlor divan, neither too hot nor too cold, and hid from most the other children. I had room to grab my knees and close my eyes, and jest see them tales Grandpap’d share. Now, here, Grandpap sits in his favorite rockin’ chair, the one fairly forsaken of its fluff. His bony backside plum wore that thing to near flat, but he does love it. And none o’us kids dare land there, ‘less he’s gone to town, plum outta shoutin’ range. Mama and Daddy, they sit holdin’ hands like them folks down to the picture show, or like Livie used to do with that sly ol’ Nick down to the Arnold Brothers’ Feed and Seed. I seen her. Turned my stomach upside itself.
Springtime and Falltime, at the breakfast table, or long after supper’s been cleared, why, they’s catch as catch can regardin’ the time and location of our family gatherin’s. Don’t make none o’us no mind, though. Long as we got Grandpap.
Long as he gets stirred up, we don’t give no nevermind a’tall.
Long as we’re, all us Goodwells, daisy-chained one to t’other.
Brings to mind that one time Grandpap settled in with one o’ his reminisces from his younger, youthful days.
He reminds us ever’ now and then his hair didn’t always be silver gray, it was once as red as Lewis and Lawton’s is now. And Grandpap ain’t one to lie. Still remains fair hard to believe and I give him my sideways squint when he goes there.
This time, he just let slip a cackle and moved right on, then frosted over. Some haze o’ historified recollection overtook his mind.
“It was ’bout this time o’year Deputy Sheriff Meyer P.D. Higham run his o’l Model T Po-lice car up to the house, hollerin’ ‘The Revenuers! They’s comin’, Langston, they’ll be here tomorrow!’ Little sideways grin, then, eyeballs refocused, pinpointed on ours, “I ever give you that ex-position?”
You bet he had! As we was, all us Goodwells, ready to re-hear it again!
Lord A’Mighty! (And I ain’t cussin’, but don’t tell Mama.)