That there? That’s a Thing o’Beauty!

Hey, ho.  This here’s Liam.  Liam Goodwell.  Of the Denton County Goodwells.

An’ here I set, ready to share with y’all yet another anti-dote from my day.  (An’ why Miss Meadow down to the school figures this here exercise vaultin’, I do not know.  But I will admit a mite flutter in my insides when I get me a minute to jot a note here and there.  I ain’t likely to admit it, however.)  But law!  I could near become another Mark Twain!  Miss Meadow down to the school, she harkens from Hannibal, after all, so maybe she got some idea in her head!  Time’ll tell….I think I’d ruther be a judge a’sportin’ them black robes.   Or a the-ater owner, makin’ butter topped popcorn all day an’ all night.

Well, I got me to thinkin’, whilst doin’ my mornin’ chores, I live me a bless-ed life, with family an’ kin an’ neighbors an’ livestock an’ a full belly.  An’ I been sharin’ all them things with you fer some time.

Don’t think, howsomever, I never ever did mention my Daddy’s youngest brother Lloyd.

Now one day soon, I’ll wrestle down a inventory o’ all my kin, Daddy’s and Mama’s and Grandpap’s, but this day, Lloyd come to mind.

Now, Lloyd’s sure my uncle, but given his circumstances, it don’t seem conventional somehow to lay that responsibility upon his shoulders.

See, it’s like this.  Lloyd is near a full twenty years younger’n Daddy.  Daddy toppin’ forty-five makes Lloyd twenty-five and a full-growed man.

‘Cept Lloyd ain’t.  Bein’ born late to Grandmama who was then in her forties her ownself, Lloyd come into this world jest a little step slower than the rest of all them crazy driven Goodwell sons.  Now, he was loved to ever’ inch o’ his bein’, and Grandmama tasked Grandpap to always give Lloyd a good home and a hug goodnight.  Hear Grandpap tell it, ’twas one o’ her last pro-nouncements upon her deathbed.

An’ Grandpap, heck all us Goodwells, we done a upstandin’ job.  Lloyd, he spends most his days, once Grandpap and Daddy gets him up an’ goin’, a’sittin’ on a ol’ couch in the corner o’ our livin’ room.  Hollers if he’s made to set an’wheres else.  Full on part o’ this family, he sets there and rocks gentle-like mornin’ to night, come comp’ny or clergy or Miss Meadow from down to the school.  He ain’t loud nor threatenin’ an’ behaves hisself mostly, ‘cept when then folks come to collect fer taxes.  He’ll let out a snort then, I tell you what!  Then come bedtime, Grandpap and Daddy gets him up and settled into his bed in a tiny room off the main, an’ Grandpap never once fails to give him a hug upon tuckin’ him in.

Now, Lloyd, is a load.  Settin’ an’ rockin’ hisself all day long don’t do nothin’ to leanin’ him out, and Lloyd, he does love his dinner.  An’ his supper.  An’ his breakfast.  Eats nice an neat on a little table jest fer him, tucked to the side when he’s done.  Always sandwiches and fried ‘tater, an’ tomaters,  and Mama, she puts sweet tea in a big ol’ milk bottle, since Lloyd don’t take to no glass.  Lloyd don’t talk, least not much I ever heared.  An’ ‘specially not when he’s a downin’ his share at mealtime.

But him an’ me,  once he’s wiped his mouth careful with his napkin like Grandmama done taught him early days, why, him an’ me, we’ll have us a moment.  Since I was knee high to a tall Indian, (Shelly Sue Swan down to the school, grade behind me, she claims Cherokee grands and I’ll ‘llow she is long an’ lean), I’ll sit myself crosslegged on the floor ‘front o’ Lloyd and him and me have us a ol’fashioned staredown.

Sometimes I’d win, but mostly it was Lloyd.  An’ he’d laugh and laugh when he seen me blink.  Now, ‘course I got better as time come forward, and after my thirteen years, I come to almost always win.

But I don’t.

‘Fore my best treasure, better’n a heap o’gold or paper money, is hearin’ Lloyd’s belly laugh.

That’d be my Uncle Lloyd.









Nearly raised on a church pew, the hard kind, all scarred and damaged and oiled and polished nearly daily with Aunt Jane’s lemon Pledge, I knew just which ones clean enough to stretch out upon, and which ones to avoid, since Ricky Amos was wont to wet his pants every Sunday morning.  Then again, come Sunday night.

I was raised respectful and quiet.  I’d memorized the page numbers of most of the old hymns, and had some distaste for the newer choruses having no proper verses.  And don’t get me started on skipping any of those verses during song service.  I think not!  I think NOT!

Wasn’t my call, but since my Mama was the pianist come Sundays, I made my petitions known, make no mistake.

Nearly raised on a pew did not, however, preclude my mind from wandering.  I’d ask silent forgiveness from the Lord Almighty, staring hard at the portrait of Jesus, all tanned and smiling mysteriously like the Mona Lisa whist I prayed.  Me and the Lord, we had an agreement.  I wouldn’t close my eyes (I learned early on when I did, folks thought I was looking for salvation.  Again.  And again.  Not that I didn’t need a re-up every now and then, but all those loving pats on the cheek wore on me some.), and the Lord would listen even so.  

And once forgiveness was requested, I’d snuggle in just a little closer to my lavender splashed grandmama Lily and she’d get to work.  An silent agreement,  just like me and Jesus, Grandmama Lily would pull an well-faded, flower-dappled,  soft as a baby kitten handkerchief from her pocketbook.  Once upon a time, she’d let me rifle around in there to keep me occupied during the most dry of sermons.  Until I sent her Chapstick rolling down the center aisle.  

And that was that.

But this?  Our new solution satisfied all my needs for occupation and imagination.  With a little twist here and a little tuck there, a quick roll and a poof, why, in my hand would be the most glorious hanky baby-in-a-basket!  The first time Grandmama displayed this skill, I gave Jesus a quick look, thanking him for the miracle he’d wrought.  And he kept on wroughting–week after week.  Even when the Hell Fire was being preached, Grandmama would twist and roll and wrap and poof and once again, a hanky baby in a blanket was laid gently in my little girl hands.

Last I saw Grandmama, not so very long ago, now, she lay in a pristine hospital bed, sweet and little, bright white curls like clouds ’round her gentle face.  We’d all, all the cousins and kids and other kin once and twice removed, come to say our goodbyes.  And durned if my Grandmama, seeing my distress, durned if she didn’t twist and roll and puff and poof and lay a sweet little hanky baby in a blanket in my big girl hands.

My treasure.  My Grandmama.