Readers of PastorsPal will remember my childhood friend, Earl, from Joshaway, Texas. He was featured in my typepost, "Joshaway, Texas Christmas Parade and Big Buck Trophy Contest." I hear from him from time to time. I got this letter from him the other day and wanted to share some of it with you.
Wall, Pa-Paw Wheezer died the other day, think it was Tuesday, we was turnin' the dirt fer the fall taters and late onions, on account of this global swarmin' thing we can plant later in the year now, and Ma-Maw Wheezer called Bernelle, you know Bernelle is Ma-Maw Wheezer's second cousin on the side of Ma-Maw Wheezer's stepfather's uncle, so they are very close, an' told us Pa-Paw Wheezer had transpired. We knew it wuz comin' for he never got outta that recliner they got him for Christmas in '96, the one that fell off the back of that truck carryin' furniture and Mexican canteloupes. Wall, once they mulched up the melon rinds and cleaned off the chair, it was fine for Pa-Paw Wheezer and he sat there all day with the remote, though they only got three channels out on the place, but he loved to watch Wheel of Fortune reruns and guess the words oncte they wuz spelled.
Pa-Paw had troubles in school, what with the Deepression and all and worked hard most of his life on the farm, 'til the farm failed and then ranched 'til he run out of money and then went to work for the city on their streets and pretty soon had those streets lookin' pretty much like the dirt roads in the country, so all wuz happy, 'cept the pavin' boys, they had less to do while Pa-Paw worked there and then nearly run to death repavin' the town when he retired.
Anyway, Pa-Paw never got no extercise, so he got to bein' an extrasize, what with eatin' the way he done, all chicken fried steak and mashed taters with the cream gravy on everything and sweet tea, though he did watch his weight some by not eatin' the green salads Ma-Maw Wheezer wuz all the time pushin' at 'im. The vet he went to told him this would kill him some day and it did, another life cut short by cholesterol at 96.
We all had a fine service fer him down at the Whole Gospel Center for Christian Fellowship Light of God Baptist Church (you know, the one with the big sign the city got all upset about because it blocked out the sun from the city flower-beds), the one that used to be a Piggly-Wiggly. We sung a few of the old hymns, like "We Shall Meet But We Shall Miss You," "In the Sweet Bye and Bye." My favorite was "Ring Them Golden Bells," whicht the Praise Band played to the tune of "Foggie Mountain Breakdown," that wuz Pa-Paw Wheezer's favorite song but Reverend Dubois would not let the boys play it in church, thet bein' a drinkin' song and drinkin' havin' ruint a lot of Reverend Dubois's deacon meetings and not a few of his sermons, Saturday comin' just before Sunday an' t'all.
Reverend Dubois give a good talk about Pa-Paw Wheezer and eternal life, I think, which he seemed to be for, not agin, and took a long time to tell all about it, so that most of the children wuz asleep or hungry and the men ready to help Reverend Dubois into eternity with Pa-Paw Wheezer and the women worried the lunch wuz burnt. Ma-Maw Wheezer begun to snore real loud, finelly, and he stopped. I don't think she wuz really asleep, just tired of him talkin' about eternal life like we wuz all sposed to want to go just then.
Er, she might have needed a chaw, her bein' a dippin' woman.
We all a had fine lunch afterward and thanked Reverend Dubois fer quittin' when he did. He is a nice feller and only comes thru twict a month and we will all remember when he will be comin' next.
Wall, I guess people thanks we're funny, with our sad singin' and all, but the feller who laughs at us probly hadn't never rid fence ner worked cows from the back of a horse or squatted on his haunches aroun' the fire on a cold mornin', ner helped a sick cow calf in a full moon. We mourn, sure, when we lose a good hand, for we can't replace him with what we're gettin' nowadays and the old ways is dyin' fast. Pa-Paw really couldn't do much no more but he had some good stories from how it used to be, how it really wuz, and the least we could give him wuz some sad singin' and a long sermon on eternal life.
Wall, that is all fer now. I miss you, what with you bein' gone to the big city and t'all. Ya'll need to git on home, the dove is flyin' low an' fast thru the sunflower fields and soon the deer will be movin' around in the thickets. I think we will finally git a cold winter fer more than a day or so and maybe kill some of the bugs this time. Come home, we will git down to the pasture, skirt the briar, swim in the creek an' watch the sun go down over towards Godley one more time before we all git too old to set outside, or they find someway to tax the sunset.
Hand writ with a Big Chief Pencil by Yer friend,
Earl, here in Joshaway, Texas.
Awright, Earl, I'll be along before long. I'm gettin' pretty homesick.