This here’s Liam. Liam Goodwell. Denton County Goodwells.
Well, here’s the thing. The thing about my Mama is there ain’t one slice, not one durned iota, not a shred nor a hair nor a nugget o’ woulda, coulda, shoulda in her. Nosiree. I tell you, she’s a woman who gives ever’ moment her complete and whole an’ good-hearted attention, then moves on to the next moment, givin’ it the same. My Mama, she ain’t reckless or feckless nor wild, thing is, she just don’t toe no line.
She’ll tell stories how some o’ them ladies down to the church, they give her some trouble early on, as her spirit ‘ppeared to them to be a right bit free, not to they likin’ a’tall. How she won them ol’ biddies over I’ll never know, but long’s I kin r’member, they jest give her her head and let her be. Once upon a time, I reckoned bein’ a Goodwell, an’ ‘fore that a Mickelwait, give her a pass. Although the Mickelwaits, the bad times hit them harder than it did us Goodwells. They all still tryin’ to make a livin’ down in the river bottoms, floods and bugs and critters accost them reg’lar, but they be hardworkin’ and honest. And most say them Mickelwaits raise the purtiest chil’ren in ten counties, all fluffy and yeller-headed and freckle-free and strong features what cain’t be tamed. Big white smiles and friendly to a fault don’t hurt none.
Truth be told, however, I jest think my Mama is jest the best human bein’ ‘live and folks jest ain’t bound to argue. Don’t nobody spend much time argu’in’ with my Mama, anyhow. She’s liable to twist them ‘roun’ her little finger, get them to do her biddin’ ‘thout them even a’knowin’, them feed them a slice o’her apple pie to keep ’em sweet!
My Mama, she’s somethin’.
And she ain’t woke up in two days.
Jest them teeny sips o’water Daddy give her through a straw from down to the drugstore (Doc Allen brung straws when he brung us the salve and the medicines.).
Story goes, come to find out, ‘fore breakfast, day b’fore last, early whist she was a’gatherin’ eggs for our mornin’ meal, (I cain’t even stop to think how my Mama knows I love my scrambled eggs come mornin’…) she was out to the brooder house, roustin’ them hens from they roosts. Somethin’ she, or me or the girls or the boys or purtin’ near all us Goodwells done a dozen r’ a hundr’d times. The mist was jest a’liftin, still wettin’ the straw and straggles on the groun’, and the sun wudn’t even a orange sliver yet. The gray of the morning near matched the gray of the wooded slats of the henhouse, but my Mama, I know, was a ray o’light. Them rosy pink cheeks and them poppin’ brown eyes, she’s one heap o’color. She cain’t he’p it.
Daddy was out to the barn beginnin’ his own early chores when thought he heard her give a little yelp, startled him some, said he.
“That you, Darlin’?” he recollects he hollered out, and he recollected he waited quiet-like till she hollered back, “Oh, it’s alright, Hon, jest pricked my ankle on a stick. I’ll live!”
Didn’t neither one think one more thing ’bout it. Mama come in, ol’ splintered basket full with ‘enough eggs to feed a thrashin’ crew. Or the Goodwells. She bustled ’bout and hustled here and there, cuttin” stripe-ed bacon thick like we like it, whippin’ up the biscuits and cuttin’ them with an’ ol’ jelly glass, then slicin’ tomaters ’cause Grandpap loves him his tomaters, layin’ out the butter and jam, and whiskin’ them eggs. Then with the girls she sat the table and hollered fer them twins t’get out her way and wiped her brow with the back o’her floury dusty hand, then worried them on the hem o’ Daddy’s threadbare shirt she was sportin’.
Mama don’t wear no apron, by the by. She wears one o’ Daddy’s ol’ work shirts, y’see. Says it keeps her housedresses nicer come company stop by. An’ I s’pose it does, but I see the little smile she gives Daddy when we ask, and the little smile he’s purty sure he’s secretly givin’ her back.
An’ all them purty aprons what she sews and embroiders fer the girls’ hope chests, why, ain’t a’one for her.
Well, there we was, all gathered at the kitchen table, talkin’ ninety to nothin’, summertime jabber ’bout this and that and nothin’ parti’cular. Givin’ no nevermind to Mama a’favorin’ that leg jest a little durin’ her fetch and deliver sashay back an’ forth from the black wood stove.
All the while never considerin’ once that stick what pricked her wudn’t no stick a’tall, ’twas a five foot copperhead lyin’ in wait, a’waitin’ his own turn to grab some o’them eggs, but Mama, she got in the way. An’ the poison, it was doin’ its devilry, none o’us the wiser.
Mama jest has to wake up. My get up and go done got up and went and I barely got nothin’ left to say when I pray. I know surely I keep a’sayin’ and prayin’ the same thing over and over again, jest like we learnt in Sunday School them heathens do. Lord knows my thoughts, Bible tells me so, and I reckon I got to hang my hat on that there.
Lord, Lord, bring my Mama back. I’ll gather the eggs ever’ day the rest o’ my life.