That there? That’s a Thing o’Beauty!

Hey, Ever’body!

Let me introduce myself once ag’in.

This here’s Liam Goodwell.  Third son o’the es-teemed and re-deemed Goodwell clan o’ Denton County, northern lands o’ the state of Missouri!  (An’ if you pro-nounce my state with an’thin’ other’n a “uh” at the end, why, I’m doggoned you ain’t no native, and shore ain’t no kin!)

I been tasked by Miss Meadow, down to the school, to keep writ track o’all my comin’s and goin’s and ponderin’s.  So you give me a new idea, and here I am, puttin’ pencil to paper yet one more time.

Now, you set my mind t’thinkin’.  What in all my thirteen years have I been missin’ to the point o’makin’ a list so as to achieve them things?

My Mama, and my Daddy and Grandpap besides, they all taught me and all us Goodwells to count our blessin’s rather’n harp on the things what come short.  A feller’s got to have somethin’ on the horizon, way I see it, so let me lick this here lead and get after it….

Liam’s Inventory of Things He Wishes Would Come to Pass (or: Things I been longin’ fer, pinin’ fer, plyin’ fer, dreamin’ on, cravin’, and let’s lay in on the line, downright covetin’!)

………by Liam Goodwell.

  1.  I long to all o’Heaven to be saved from sin an’ when my time comes, be rescued from that ol’ boilin’ Lake o’ Fire and blessed by God and let into them Pearly Gates with open arms and have me a mansion right down the line from all the Goodwells what come before.  I got me some questions. (The Good Lord’ll understand why all the rest o’ my “wish fers” ain’t necessarily Biblical.  I did, after all, put Him first.  I’m purty sure He’ll understand.  He knows my heart.)
  2. I yearn beyond all believin’ Grandpap’d let me use his special “give to him by HIS Grandpap” silver workin’ tools.  He’n Daddy, they make mean saddles, all decorated and shiny and slid on equines fer parades near all over Missouri and down even to Texas. (I’ll confess he give me some lesser grade tools, so I ain’t bein’ ungrateful, Grandpap, if you was to read this here.)
  3. I fair dream o’bein’ able to move my family, all us Goodwells and the Michelwaits and ever’body what’s kin and I claim, back to the top o’ Shiloh Mountain, right up there where I kin still see the tip tops o’ the big white family home Grandpap’s Grandpap built in the olden days.  (I determined long ago we Goodwells, we be made fer the mountaintop, not dealt to dwell at the bottom. An’ Fergive me, Lord, if you sense some resentin’ in my spirit.  I’m jest longin’ fer restoration.  An’ to live on land what was once family.)
  4. I crave Mama’s chocolate cake an’ apple pie.  With cheese.  The pie, I mean.  An’ in any order you please.
  5. I wish like heck (fergive me my French) big brother Lincoln would concentrate less on the rodeo and more on helpin’ out with the plantin’ and the tillin’ and the harvestin’ and the feedin’ and the buildin’ and all them things I been doin’ fer him since he won him that first big ol’ belt buckle!
  6. An’ I’ll ask fergiveness right up front on this here.  I hope, I do know this is wrong, but the war over to Europe, an’ even the one over to Japan, don’t end ‘fore I get my chance to fight ‘longside General Patton an’ save the world, and Denton County, fer democracy!  God Bless America!
  7. I wish my brain’d slow down to a crawl ever so often.  It runs and gyrates and opinionates to who laid a chunk. Mama says she and me, we ain’t like ever’body else,  we figure things ‘fore other folks.  Then true, we gets a little itchy whilst they do they own figurin’.  Guess what I really wish was I didn’t have to wait so long fer other’s to ketch up.
  8. I wish my Uncle Kenny, Daddy’s younger brother, would come back safe from over to Italy.  Soon and unscathed and w’thout damages.  An’ tell us stories an’ tales like he used to do.  His letters stopped some time back an’ we’re chompin’ at the bit, leastways me and big brothers Lincoln and Lawrence (he’s the one what tried to run off and join the U.S.Army ‘fore he was of age) are.  Mama jest commences a’hummin’ when I bring it to conversation.
  9. An’ there’s that fine feisty Tennessee Walker the Judge, he said’d be mine, were I to do some favors fer him an’ his crew in an’ ‘roun’ the county, visitin’ folks, pickin’ up packages and such.  I don’t reckon that’d be covetousness, jest payment fer a job well done.  Feels a little prickly, an’ I ain’t mentioned it none.  But it IS a Tennessee Walker, purtiest steed in five counties, fer that there’s all I seen.  I’ll give that there some thinkin’.
  10. An’ ‘thout a doubt, I hope and pray more’n near ever’thin’,  more’n hope its ownself Miss Meadow down to the school approves what I writ.  Fer to date, she been plumb the only member of hu-manity I let read any o’these missives.  She ain’t judged, not yet an’how.  An’ I do want to please Miss Meadow.  She’s a lady an’ she taught me plenty, and she believes I’m worth the time.  Now, bein’ a Goodwell, I know that already, and so’s most o’ the county and near ever’body beyond.  But It does feel special bein’ called out fer musin’s and gifts only me an’ my Mama know we got.

That there, that’s it.  Cain’t think o’nothin’ more I ain’t already got.

So, now I reckon I’ll spin t’other di-rection and get t’fixin’ to count my blessin’s once ag’in.  An’ tendin’ to the horses.  It’s a heap more gratifyin’!

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Let ‘er Rip!

Glory Glory Hallelujah! 

I say ag’in, Glory Glory Hallelujah Amen!

We got us a rise out o’Mama!  Me’n Luce!  We got us a rise out o’Mama!  I jest know she’s on her way back, I jest know!  She rested a bit this side o’Jordan, weighed the Pearly Gates and them golden streets ag’inst wild heathen child’urn under foot and mangy houn’dogs needin’ feedin’ and durned if she didn’t turn herself a’roun’ and set her sights back to the land o’ the livin’!

I say it one more time, Glory Glory Hallelujah!

The Good Lord in Heaven, he heard our prayers, pitiful and sorrowful as they was, and durned if he didn’t ‘llow his daughter to return to us fer a spell!  

This here’s Liam Goodwell.  Of the Denton County Goodwells!  An’ proud and grateful son and offspring and kindr’d spirit of one Lila Elizabeth Aubry Franklin Michelwait Goodwell, the finest Mama and warmest Christian woman on the face o’ this world!

Glory!

Law, i cain’t get myself over it.  Don’t really want to, the joy wellin’ up in my soul jest washes me plumb clean and tingly ever’ time I see it in my mind!

See, here’s the sto-ry.

Me’n Luce, we, at the same durned minute, got us a tuggin’ and a pullin’ in our hearts, GO SEE MAMA!

Didn’t have to tell us twice, whomsoever was a’doin’ the tellin’.  We lit out lickity split, ninety to nothin’, ol’ Buck the horse workin’ hisself into a froth.  Took us no time to get to Doc Allen’s, other side o’ town from the Goodwell place, half hour tops.  We was flyin’!  God bless Buck.  He’s a tough ol’ piece o’ horseflesh, but he loves Mama his ownself.  

She’ll save him an apple ‘r two when she’s a makin’ pie.  An’ ol’ Buck, he don’t forget.

Luce says, and I’ll vouch, she don’t even recollect slidin’ from the sweaty back o’ that ol’ boy, nor racin’ in the house, no knockin’, no “halluuin'”, no doubt scarin’ the livin’ daylights out Mrs. Allen, Doc Allen’s kindly wife.

Reckon some apologizin’ will be in order soon, but that thought there, it douses a mite of that joy what was worshin’ over me….I’ll ponder that tidbit later.

I will.

Later.

But right now, baskin’ in the rememberin’, that’s healin’ the deepest part o’ my insides and I figure I’ll rest here sometime longer.

Truth be tol’, I don’t recall much neither, till we found ourselves, one side t’other, lookin’ down upon Mama’s sweet face.  Her eyes was closed, same as always.  Her hair was fluffed jest so, same as before.  Peaceful, her hands was folded atop the white cloud of bedclothes comfortin’ her.  The thin lacy curtains, they was blowin’ inwards, little breeze driftin’ and sashayin’ ‘roun’ the room.  I seem to recall Mrs. Allen a’standin’ at the door, but I cain’t be shore.  

Now, we didn’t know what we was expectin’, rightly.  Did we think Mama’d be up dancin’ and swayin’ ’bout the room, smellin’ all the sweet wildflowers we set ‘roun’?  Did we figure she’d be helpin’ Mrs. Allen, Doc Allen’s kindly wife, with the worshin’?  Did we figure she’d leap up and greet us with hugs and kisses like she done ever’ other wakeful day o’ her life?

Well, I think that one there, that may have been it.

Howsomever, here she was, there she lie, no diff’ernce, just that  blankness spread like sweet honey ‘cross her face.

Heck a’fire, if me’n Luce, we didn’t have us another ‘xact same thought pass through our heads.

An’ we both, both us together, me the melody, Luce the harmony (always seemed fittin’ Luce, she sang harmony.  Just a bit askance n’ off kilter was her pre-ferred way, but still headin’ the same di-rection, making the way all the more complete) we struck into “Amazin’ Grace”, all four verses, even the “Praise God” verse at the end.  Well, then we slid into “Jesus is a Rock in a Weary Land” and then we got to goin’, rippin’ out “Jest Over in the Glory Land” then raisin’ our voices to “I’ll Fly Away” and “Caanan’s Happy Land!”

Don’t even remember jest when it happened, it was so sly and right-like, but dogged if they wudn’t one more voice a’chimin’ in, quiet and purty and tinklin’ like little bells!

You got it!  You nailed it!  Why, our Mama, eyes closed, hands folded on them soft white sheets, was a singin’, a’praisin’, and Law, if me n’ Luce, tears slidin’ freely down our faces, we kept ‘er goin’!  We sung choruses and verses and hymns and Sunday Night tunes and Sunday School ditties till we was hoarse, then ,why, we sung some more!  Mama, too, all the while her eyes closed but her voice a’ringin’ and a’singin’.  

Never did know how long it was till we all plumb run out o’gas.  But then we went to gigglin’, and eyes still closed shut, Mama, she give a smile, wiggled a couple fingers, like she was a’sayin’, “Come back soon!”

Not for one second, not one iota of a slice of a moment, did we ever think this was less than a miracle from the Good Lord’s own hand!  

Nosiree bub!  

An’ Mrs. Allen, Doc Allen’s kindly wife, she, as our witness, she shooed us out, but in the nicest o’ways, sayin’ Mama’d had enough excitement fer one day, an’ she’d be callin’ Doc right away to have him see the improvement.  She’d seen the happenin’, too.  ‘Twasn’t nothin’ short of a miracle!

Don’t recall much of the blisterin’ ride home, but Buck, he’d waited sure and steady where we’d left him till me’n Luce exploded from the Allen home, then he did his own explodin’, bustin’ his backside gettin’ us back home.  

Never once occurred to us to ask Mrs. Allen, Doc Allen’s kindly wife, if we could use her telephone (party line, o’course) to alert all the Goodwells left at home.

Thankfully, Mrs. Allen, she done it for us, and when ol’ Buck tossed us off hisself, done with us fer the time bein’, walkin’ hisself back into his stall and his interrupted afternoon repose, why, the rest o’ we Goodwells, all of ’em, Grandpap and Daddy on down, why we had us a dance fest in the dusty back yard.

Mama!  Mama was a’goin’ to make it!  

Glory Glory Hallelujah!

Amen and Amen!

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Let ‘er Rip!

I reckon a feller shouldn’t never grow up ‘thout a mama.  Ain’t right, somehow, nor good.

Selfish, I am.  Got me sisters an’ brothers needin’ the comfort and guidance of a mama, an’ I ain’t aimin’ on denyin’ them, no, I am not.

Havin’ a mama in the house is like plumb havin’ a angel around….one who scrambles the eggs, who mends the holes in the knees o’ our britches, who wets the worshrag to hold against our feverin’ brows.  She’s the one who plucks the feathers from the fresh-slain chickens, and shucks, she’s the one who’ll wring they necks.  She’s the one who shoos the hounds from the cats’ food but will pick the ticks from under they fur an’ give ’em a hug and a ruffle jest for sittin’ still.  She’s the one who’ll worsh out our mouths with soap for takin’ the Lord’s name in vain, and won’t abide a lie, and who’ll make us cookies fer no reason a’tall.  She’s the one who always says she loves us last thing ‘fore bed and first thing come mornin’.  She’s the one who peeks in to check all is well, when we’re a’playin’ possum under the nighttime covers.

But me and MY Mama, we was always kindred spirits besides all that, always two of them podded peas.  She’d have these visions, premonitions or what have you, and they’d cross the front o’ my thinking at pre-cisely the same darned time.  Cain’t explain, nor could she.  We, both o’us, understood of livin’ what others ‘ppeared to not.

My Mama, she could slide me the side-eye an’ I could read her thinkin’ in a snap. An’ toe the line if that was the message….as it often could be.  We, both of us, could sing an’ spin an’ dance an’ holler, jest ’cause it was daylight.  Or nightlight.  Or Tuesday.  We shared thinkin’ on books an’ the war over to Europe an’ dreams of trav’lin’ once this war was done.

She’s the one taught me cryin’ was fine, done in private, but when the clouds cleared, ’twas time to move on.  She’s the one taught me God loves us even when we scratch him the wrong way.  She taught me to be sorry when I should be, and not when I’m not.

She taught me to forgive real things, not jest say ” oh, that’s alright…”  ‘Cause most time it ain’t.

So, Father God in Heaven, fergive me my lapsin’ o’faith.  My Mama, she ain’t woke since she been bit.  I put her in your lovin’ hands, but I be shrivellin’ wrinkled in fear.  My Mama, she be yours, but I reckon I’d shore ‘ppreciate if you’d see yer way to lettin’ her be ours a mite more, if you see fit and willin’.

Amen and amen.

Yer servant and son, Liam.  Liam Goodwell.  Of the Denton County Goodwells.

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