The Carriage Driver³ - Etta and Clyde
At eight years old Etta knew what she wanted and went after it. She picked out her husband from her third grade class and finalized the deal when she turned eighteen years of age. Her strength of character and just plain pluck allowed her to stand up to her parents' objections and also the objections of her nine siblings. She displayed both strength and leadership throughout her long life.
At ninety-five her eyes were still smiling. The golden flecks in her brown eyes drew plenty of attention throughout her life. She had a rebellious soul, as a child, her Mother made her wear her hair short; after the age eighteen she went Rapunzel letting her hair grow and grow, to the delight of her husband Clyde.
Poet Laureate of the third grade, in Miss Blodgett’s class, Clyde made his indelible mark on Etta’s creative literary soul, shortly after he had been sent to the principal’s office for creating the poem, “A little mouse ran up the stairs to hear Miss Blodgett say her prayers.”
Miss Blodgett told Clyde he was in big trouble and would be hit on his palm with the ruler that had holes in it if he did not make up another poem as good as the one he just recited…Clyde said “Here I stand before Miss Blodgett she’s gonna strike and I will dodge it.” That is when Etta fell head over heels in love with Clyde, the bad boy of the class.
Etta received many blessings. Her parents’ gave her a good dose of faith which guided her through many of life’s challenges. Her five children adored her. Her toughness was admired, and her warmth cherished. Each of the children was made to feel special. Hailing from a generation that had little, and expected nothing, Etta went about the cooking, cleaning and caring with good cheer.
The binding of her bible was worn from use. The Good book sat by her bedside and she turned to it daily to feed her eternal soul. She sought answers and was quite content to roam through the writings of the timeless wisdom. She found the teachings a useful guide in her life and life’s of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. The teachings strengthened her. They sustained her through her forty-two year marriage. The teachings provided her with a community of people with the same dimension of perspective.
At ninety-five her family arrived at the hospital in ones and twos to say their goodbyes. All had tears in their eyes. The all carried images of holiday meals spent together. They remembered the laughter and sometimes the arguments and always the good food lovingly prepared. The children and grandchildren reminisced in the waiting room, waiting their turn to say goodbye. The whole family just would not fit into the room all at once.
Etta raised her arm to get her youngest granddaughter’s attention. “Get me the phone.”
“Dial this number.” Her daughter did as requested. “Hello Pastor? This is Etta, get a pencil. I am going to tell you which Hymns I want sung at my service.” Etta continued. When finished, she said, “Now, read them back to me.” She handed the phone back to her granddaughter, lay her head down on the pillow and closed her eyes, and returned to the cradle.
Captain Griffin Chaffey prepared the carriage. The upholstery was brushed and supple. The wheels had been recently painted. Not a speck of dirt to be seen anywhere. The leather was waxed and the brass polished. Nuelle coat glistened in the glow of the journey. He looked at the name in the book. ‘Ninety-five,’ he thought. ‘That’s a good long time.’
Etta’s granddaughter kissed her Mammaw on the forehead, patted her hand and whispered, “I love you.”
Griffin arrived at the appointed time. He stepped down from the carriage and pulled an apple from his pocket to share with Nuelle. The deep meaning of the apple had long been replaced by just the sharing of the fruits of the earth.
Griffin watched as the beautiful young woman in a flowered dress walked towards them. You could not help noticing the long brown hair draped over her shoulder like a Royal would wear a cloak. He could not help noticing she was barefoot and singing.
“I am so glad it’s you,” she said coming up to the carriage.
“We are here to take you wherever you want to go. Do you know where you want to go?”
“You mean like greener pastures? I read that small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads me to you. It must be true.”
Griffin reached out his hand. Etta took it and stepped up into the carriage being mindful of her hair. Once inside, she took hold of the end of her hair and expertly wound it in a bun and pinned it in place.
Nuelle tossed her mane and stepped away from the curb.
It was a beautiful day. The air sparkled and the leaves of the trees danced in appreciation of their luck. The wheels of the carriage seemed to sing against the cobblestones of the one true path.
Etta took it all in. The golden flecks in her brown eyes absorbed the essence surrounding her.
“If my Clyde were here, he would be composing me a poem right now. He was always composing me a poem. She giggled, “Sometimes a limerick.” The castle came into view. ‘Whoa,’ escaped Etta’s lips.
Griffin pulled up to the doors of the castle. A tall man wearing a tuxedo came through the doors to greet them.
Griffin climbed down and held out his hand to Etta. As he did, a young man ran from the front door, passed the man in the tuxedo and into the arms of Etta. The man in the tuxedo looked at Griffin and smiled. The two men shook hands. Nuelle pulled away from the front door and parked the carriage close to the side of the castle and waited.
Clyde and Etta walked inside the castle arm and arm. Griffin and the man in the tuxedo followed.
Clyde led Etta to a table stacked with volumes of hand printed books. “This is what I have been doing while I was waiting. They are volumes of poetry, all based on you, and all the love you were able to generate and bestow upon the world.”
Clyde paused, are you hungry or is there somewhere that you would like to go. We finally have all the time in the world to travel.
Etta let her hair down and draped it over her shoulder. A woman in white brought out two cool, cinnamon-apple ciders and set them on the table.
Clyde reached out and took Etta’s hand. “I am so glad you are here.”
He sat and picked up an apple cider. “To us,” he sat the drink down and picked up a book. Let me read you a poem.
Miss Blodgett had holes in her ruler
But me an Etta could, always fool her
Our lives were gone in a blur
But were we sorry, no sir
Because love is what made our lives purr
Now we are here by his throne
We set our meter and tone
All his mysteries are now known
All our children, safe and grown
We are free to stay or free to roam
My Repunzel, let down your hair
Let me dance you out of that chair
We begin again with a flare
You are the answer to my every prayer
Eternity is now ours to share
Young Etta, stepped into the arms of the love of her life.
Lynda Randle - He Will Carry You (Live)
Travelin' Shoes by Garrison Keillor.wmv
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