Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Faith and Laughter

When we were kids, she prohibited her children from playing golf on Sunday or swimming on Sunday or participating in a cake walk any day of the week. Playing marbles was also on the “can’t do” list.

Playing marbles for keeps was gambling and so was the cake walk at the annual Halloween carnival at the school, even if they were raising money for a good cause. Sunday was a day that should be kept holy and evidently golfing and swimming were forms of unholy exercise.

Alcohol was from the devil himself and we didn’t even have the rubbing variety in our house. We always had an ample supply of Witch Hazel . I suppose the word “alcohol” was written in very small letters so it made it okay.

My oldest brother tells the story of the first time he went in a movie theater. He was convinced he would be doomed to eternal damnation for just walking in the door.

We went to church on Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday nights. Not many kids showed up on Wednesday nights at the Reynolds United Methodist Church besides us and maybe Don and Hazel’s children.

I have many memories as a kid walking down the hall at our house and looking in the living room and seeing her on her knees with her very worn King James in her hands.

On most nights before we went to bed, we would gather in our parents room. Someone would read the Bible out loud and we would take turns praying out loud. On the nights we did not gather in the bedroom as a family, she would come in our rooms and pray with each of us. And for each of us.

As we got older, she got free from the legalism. Maybe having a house full of non-legalistic kids helped prod her along but I know it was more than that. We eventually played golf on Sunday afternoons and even took some Sabbath swims in the neighbors pool.

But thankfully she never got free from the Bible study and the praying.

I am convinced my mother’s prayers kept me alive a few times late at night during my formative years when my stupid actions were pushing the life envelope.

I also have vivid memories as a kid of getting tucked in at night by my mom with a house full of my parents’ friends at our house and going to sleep to the sound of laughter.

I learned during those nights that laughter is even better than a rainy night when it’s time to go to sleep.

She never missed a baseball game or a basketball game or any other event in which her children were participating. She even became an Atlanta Braves fan and a Georgia Bulldog fan.

Because her children were fans.

As I grew into an adult, she became more than a mom. She was my friend and she was my confidant. She became the grandmother of my children. And my wife’s best friend.

A couple of days before she died she wanted to tell us something. I had to bend over her hospital bed and put my ear right next to her lips to hear her very weak voice. I’ll never forget what she said.

“The Braves won last night.”

All we could do is shake our heads and smile.

Eighteen years ago today, Naia Gonzalez Goddard, left her earthly home and entered into rest for eternity with her creator, who she served with her whole heart all her adult life.

She left us here to fend for ourselves.

But she left us a gift. Actually a couple of gifts come to mind.

Faith and laughter.

I don’t know if the Braves really won that night or not. But I am convinced of this one thing.

She won.


Shane said...

Hard to believe it's been 18 years, Bruce! But oh, what a legacy she left! It really WAS "the good life" growing up in the presence of Mrs. Naia and all the others like her! Sending hugs and Love your way today as you celebrate her legacy! Side note: You can bet that those Whatley kids were there most Wednesdays too - LOL!

Shane Crutchfield Bledsoe

Anonymous said...

Bruce...I have fond memories of your mom and dad from my years living in Reynolds. The older we got the more we enjoy looking back.
Thanks for taking us back down memory lane!
Pat Bartlett

Michael Gillstrap said...

Bruce, thanks for sharing this story. I didn't know your mom but I grew up in Kentucky in the same era that you were growing up in Georgia and I suppose that most of us who grew up in the rural south during that time frame can relate to your story and recall fond memories of our own momma's. Thank again.