“It’s Good Enough for ME!”

Now, this muddle of quizzing and questioning and wondering has long been the centerpiece of my table.

My poor Mama.

“What ‘too big for my britches’ mean, Mama?” I’d asked after my big brother took off to school.  I’d go next year.

“Why, actin’ proud and better’n your neighbor,” she’d answered.

“Well then,” I’d asked after a bit, “what’s ‘proud as punch?’  Grandma Boyd says that all the time an’ she smiles and gives me a squeeze when she does.”

“Honey baby, Grandma Boyd means she’s plumb joyful when she sees your face!  You know how she loves you, hon!”

“But Mama!” I recall shouting, then cloudin’ over with tears, “But Mama, Brother Baldwin down to the church, he says ‘pride goeth before a fall!’ I heard him! Mama!  Mama!  Is Grandma Boyd going to fall down a deep dark hole, break both her legs, for all the pride I put in her heart?”

The clouds burst and I fairly wailed.

Mama bundled me right quick into her soft squishy lap, wiped my tears with little staccatto dots of her fingers then rocked me like a big ol’ baby.

“Oh, hon, no. No.  Bless your heart, no.  Grandma Boyd’s real careful her pride don’t spill out and hurt nobody else.  She keeps it in real tight and prays to Jesus ever’ night for forgiveness, and dogged if he don’t take it all away.”

I remember lookin’ her straight in the eye.  Sounded a little suspicious to me.

Then she said, “See, that a’way, her bucket o’ pride never washes over the brim an’ if she’s real careful, she can make it ’til her nightly prayers to dump it out and start over the next day.”

Well now, that there, that made sense.  If her bucket don’t spill, she can keep on bein’ proud of me ever single day, then dump her bucket an’ do it all over the next.

‘Cause she’s old, you know.  I like makin’ her happy.  An’ eatin’ her chocolate chip cookies.  She makes giant ones!

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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!

These here, these be the tried and true and tried ag’in real life misadventures of the reared and bred Goodwell clan of Denton, County.  An’ me?  I be the third son of the first son, Liam Goodwell.  I am brave and strong, and Miss Meadow, down to the school, she bade me keep writ track of our doin’s fer the summer.  

I’ll do my best, as I do like me Miss Meadow, and respec’ her somethin’ fearful.  She’s one fine teacher, shiny and sparkly-like.  

We been, us Goodwells, down to church most the day.  Sunday School, then the morning service, then a satisfyin’ potluck all afternoon, follered by some mixed up softball game out past the cemetery, then Vespers and the Evangelical Service, I’ll admit I’m plumb tuckered jest from the joy of it all.  

Summertime Sundays means arisin’ a mite later’n usual, which begins the day right, then doin’ our chores forthwith, then gatherin’ at the big ol’ red-checked covered kitchen table, all eight o’ us kids, plus Daddy and Grandpap, and Mama, who most always is a cartin’ food to and from the big ol’ black stove over to the corner.  But we don’t take us a bit til’ Mama’s set and Grandpap, he asks us to bow our heads in prayer.  

And Lord, can he pray, although his nighttime prayers be shorter. He’s a tad hungrier then.  

Friday last, little brother Lawton ….’r was it Louis?…..,don’t make no nevermind, as they’s twins and near exchangeable….one or t’other reckoned he’d foller in Grandpap’s footsteps, askin’ to have his turn at prayer.  Well, he went to a’prayin’.  And a’prayin’.  And a’prayin’.  That boy, he prayed for all us kids in sequence, Lincoln on down.  Then, he prayed for Mama ‘n Daddy ‘n Grandpap, and all the aints and uncles and neighbors and hound dogs and cats and milk cows and horses, broke and not broke.  He prayed for the sun and the moon and the planet Mars and fer the rain and the snow come winter, and fer good ice upon the pond back behind the school house.  He went so far as to pray for Grandpap’s ol’ John Deere.

Now, bein’ we’s Christians, we can’t never, no never, interrupt nor be disrespectin’ of anybody’s petitions before the Lord, but Lawsy!  What’s a good Christian to do?

Once it was over and done, seemed near a lifetime, we all, in chorus, hollered, “Amen!”   Which to for, we wait, like always,  for Mama to pass the first bowl o’vituals then we wait for all our plates to be filled, an’ then we tuck in.  But lookin’ right and lookin’ left, me and we Goodwell children, we was all fightin’ tears and guffaws, near chokin’ till apple pie dessert.

Never did find out how it happened, but much to our dismay, very next dinnertime last night, Mama give Grandpap the eye, to which he rolled his own eyes but roared,  “How ’bout you pray, Lawton?” (or was it Louis…?).  

No.  Lord, no.  An’ tonight was catfish.  Don’t nobody in his right mind eat cold catfish…..ain’t easy to whine in yer head, by I shore did. 

But dutiful Christians, we bowed our heads in unison like we do, each and ever’ one o’ us doubting the sanity of Grandpap and near to cursin’ the upcomin’ torrential downpour of Lawton’s , or Louis’, prayer.   

He sucked hisself in a deep breath….

Here we go.

“Father God?” he queried, 

“Father God?”  he asked once more.

“Father God?”

We waited…..

“AMEN!”

What in the hay?!  The world right then stopped, jest like that, the ol’ recommisioned schoolhouse clock I give to Mama last Mother’s Day, the one havin’ only a minute hand, it stopped in it’s travels.  I’m certain of it.

What in the Good Lord’s Heaven jest happened there?!

Lawton, or was it Louis, jest scooped up his fork and knife and head down, began his slicin’ and dicin’ of the most delicious to date catfish we Goodwells, we ever had set before us!

Father God?  Amen!

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