Beatrice here.. it was inevitable the question. I knew somebody would ask before days end. “How is it a chap who dislikes beets, wanders quietly into the pages of legend”?
After Godfrey’s wake, in that weird emptiness, I was once more left by myself. His few belongings neath the hammock on the porch where he slept. Godfrey in a jar with my herbs and tea bags on the pantry shelf. There were chores of course, cards and letters to send. Days I scarce remember,times I swear I heard the pad of his bare feet and the squeaky loo door in the night.
I looked for the good in the beets, taken root in my broken heart.. It was Worzel’s idea to write, and when Worzel came to Wales she brought the stories, of Godfrey and the years we were apart. I did not find her odd, this daughter of the prairies, (though long a dweller on the Wets Coast of Canada she reminded me) And in time she told this story, of the last time she bid farewell to Godfrey.
Worzel writes- We never knew when he would write or call, when we left the ranch for the city, it was three years before we heard the thud of his suitcase in the hall. Even then, on occasion in our shop a customer may say, they had heard the poetry of The Vagabond Godfrey, ask of the tattered , old plaid suitcase on display.
We would chat about the photos on the shop wall over tea.”The beaming young man with the trophy in hand, that is Godfrey. The girl with black- eye, holding the Mangel- Wurzel high, is me”. “On my darkest days, one fellow wrote, “I look for the good hidden deep in the beets”. Godfrey had chalked the message on the side of a railroad car, grain heading east. He stayed with us a year in all. He drove my long- suffering husband Garnet, frequently up the wall.But deep inside Gar truly cared, and listened every morning to the obituaries Godfrey shared.
“Beth Bath has passed”, he made Garnet repeat with a mouth full of toast. My turquoise chair by the window was the space he loved the most. We had time to sit up until noon and talk, and arm in arm with Godfrey, along the harbor wall he and I would walk. He still loved ice-cream. On Wednesdays we had sundaes. Sundays we had cones from the drive-in by the Petting- Zoo. Saturday was afternoon tea at Murchies, where he snitched the praline off my Tiramisu. I ate his Mocha Tart when he excused himself to use the loo. Godfrey ate a plate of Petit-Fours, before he polished off another, he said he considered going home, to see Beatrice, his sister and Mother.
“It has been a long time, I had to agree. He said perhaps Ma is no longer so annoyed over the beets with me”..My favorite time of year is the Fall. In the height of Autumn’s glory we bid farewell to Godfrey. Others stared as we played in the leaves, fallen deep in the car lot. Godfrey waved from the stern of the ferry boat leaving Swartz Bay. He was looking to the hills of the Island as the ship pulled away.
The colors of October had draped them in plaid,woven like a warm throw of red, gold, brown and green. As always, parting from my old friend hurt, then I remembered Godfrey had thought I had not seen him tuck a note in the pocket of my shirt.
To Worzel, he wrote, “Oh wrap me in plaid I’ll bring biscuits and cake. You loved me despite my faults. And never shy, long may you and I, dance The Peruvian Armpit Waltz. Neath the moon let us all our lives, dance The Peruvian Armpit Waltz. Thank you from Godfrey.
Yes, by being himself he passed into legend, waltzed The Armpit Waltz to glory, left Beatrice and I had to tell his story…of the good hidden deep in the beets.