It is I , Miss Commerford the spitting nurse. Yes the world can be cruel. My name is Agnes Dorcas, I had my teeth knocked askew my third year of school. The primative repair never felt right or fit, consequently when I talk, yes I spit.
Surrounded from a very young age, by adults who disliked each other, I vowed to stay independent, see the world, neither any man’s wife or a mother. Those young years of adventure and fun sped with me. As a midwife in my old car traveled village and valley, I recall the morning I helped deliver Godfrey.
Fetch the nurse! shrilled his mother, she spits when she talks!. Granny Wambe was already there when I reached the house on the docks.
Twas a cool August morn, the harbor fog bound, indeed the first sound he would hear once his bottom was slapped, an outbound freighter. He peered up at me with eyes already wise, Granny Wambe recalled feeling the same years later.
I saw him now and again, and when he was six, was set upon by a pack of young brigands, wielding beets on the end of sharp sticks, they chased little Godfrey and barred him up in an outhouse.
Holy Mary and Bride! I cried as I found him at dawn. He had one front tooth, (showed me it was loose) His hair was shaved up one side, the rest was long and had been dipped in blue paint, he was spattered with beet pulp shoulder to knee..a disheveled urchin neither grubby nor uncouth, in an ill fitting kilt and gumboots- Godfrey.
When I asked about his hair he said, my sister Alice cut it for me pretty…From a pocket hidden base of the tail of the shapeless Horse- Sweater he was wearing Godfrey drew, a flattened Krept Bakery bag and offered it to me with a whispered, “Nurse thank you” It held what may have began as a cream bun or cake. Most of the filling was bottom of the bag, it may once have been light and crusty, prepared with loving care. Godfrey whispered,”This got hit by beets but Ma told me always to share”
The late Lawrence Shmilt, Dr Shmilt of renown spent several years in our little town, he believed it was true. “It is not in Godfrey’s destiny to drown” He was plucked from a gunny sack, thrown in a creek, weighted with beets, he was fine.
He was mired on the mud-flats all day, alone knee deep in muck and clay. With his Ma’s good suitcase fashioned as a raft, he set out one dawn with the tide, he was spotted off shore enjoying the breeze with his bare feet over the side.
Dr Shmilt agreed, “It was in his destiny to roam” At the age of two he was found eating strawberries, from a garden several miles from home. “I treated him for hives, the grue,when he fell from a car the bruises and bumps”.
Miss Commerford the local nurse recalled to me, “In the back of my class on hygene and puberty, at twelve sat Godfrey” “He fled the room in horror Nurse spat,when she asked what was wrong he said, “My sister Alice told me, I would go through the opposite of that”!..
I supported Godfrey’s penchant for speaking oddly in rhyme, admired his efforts at art. I laughed at his painting of a plate licked clean he called- THE DAY MA ET MY CUSTARD TART-by Godfrey.
Aberdeen Agnes, prim old maid, lived alone with her cat, no one knew.. that in my tidy cottage by the sea what Dr Lawrence Shmilt and I got up to.
And what is it called? That time twixt childhoods end, when age no longer matters and the odd little boy who disliked beets becomes a friend.
I’d stop at his Manure Stand to share tea and a scone, he would ask about diseases and germs he may encounter when out on his own. I recall the morning well I bid happy trails to Godfrey.We wrote to each other, I followed his adventures precariously.
It was I, the spitting nurse that Beatrice rang, the night she found him at peace neath the apple tree. Aberdeen Agnes, now retired comfortably keep an untidy garden at my cottage by the sea, I do not grow beets, but rhubarb, peonies, weeds and stink willies, all things that make me laugh, and apple trees in memory of Godfrey.