Twas one of his summer visits, Godfrey kept me company one day, with his chatter as we sorted old belongings, my step-mother the pack-rat Mrs Gibberflat had stowed away.
I had hinted that his suitcase was looking worn and sad, that we had a fairly new one, green and gold plaid. Wistful at the thought, he said ‘my old suitcase has carried me through a lot’. What are these? Godfrey called across the dusty living room. He was holding up a dress and a pair of ancient pantaloons…When my parents retired they went through a phase, of Square Dance Sundays and bus tour holidays. Siblings dispersed it was left to me,to get the pair out from in front of the T.V.
The dress was huge, red and white check, with thick petticoats and neck line that was sure to sweat and itch. Godfrey loved to dance, and how he loved to laugh, it began somewhere deep down inside him with a scritch…like the needle on an old record player, that moment before the sound came. With a wheeze like a whale breathing, far out at sea, his eyes would close , down he’d drop on one knee, in expanded guffaw he would laugh until he cried.
As oft happened when shopping in our little town with me, folk would cross the streets, to avoid my Godfrey, as he so adeptly avoided beets. And though he never lived a settled life, and in low regard he held money, any job he had, he did with pride, but he did get in trouble for if something was funny, he would laugh that laugh from deep inside.
When he met a new friend, he would ask if they liked fishing. If his heart swelled with passion,cheeks a flush, romance making knees and hands shake.Godfrey never shied from expressing his love,he would find his old cookbook, find her something sweet to bake. And he would laugh- as he laughed as he danced in the old pantaloons.
I gave in, put on the dress, and laughing we spun about the room. He sang a song of beets, with an odd country tune, called the square dance as we pranced up and down, he sang, “There’s a an old out house on the edge of town, gather up the beets and throw them down” “Then promanade your Worzel fair, run from the beets away from there” “Lady be good, lady be bad, lady cook beets gonna make me sad” Now when I laugh, I cannot help but think of Godfrey.
When I dance he is still with me. Beneath his old kilt he wears the pantaloons of lace. Across the meadow green, or dusty old carpet, still young and nimble we glide. And we laugh from that great, odd place of joy, that childhood place- where laughter is stored deep inside..