Goodnight, Daddy

Goodnight, Daddy

It was around six at night, probably a little later, and I bet it was about the middle of February, but not yet Valentine’s because I hadn’t made any cards yet. Momma said that everything would be ready in just a minute, the biscuits were taking a little bit longer than normal. Would I come away from the window and get the butter out and pour the milk? The snow wasn’t going anywhere.

But how could I take my eyes away? I had never seen it snow like this. Never. Daddy had the other children out on the porch and they were watching it whip in little circles as the wind blew in through the naked oaks and sycamores. I had been sick and Momma said she didn’t need me all laid up and missing school. The porch lights reflected off the slips of ice as they came down, mixed with the snow, and I could hear them laughing out there.

For the first snow it was always gonna be breakfast when Momma cooked, whether it was morning or midnight. We had killed hogs that year and the bacon was good like it should be. The eggs were scrambled and light, and Daddy got out honey and sorghum for the biscuits.

Momma let me call the bank’s Time and Temperature line, and it told me what I knew had to be true. It was freezing enough so that the snow would stick. No way were we gonna have school tomorrow. Just no way. Daddy started to get out the Rook cards, but Momma gave him that look.

I coughed and Momma said that I needed to go to bed, that everybody needed to go to bed, and can you just imagine what it’s gonna look like when we wake up in the morning. And I stood there and looked out the window and dreamed of the feel of the wind, of the sleet as it might hit my face, of the wakening cold that was pushing through the gaps in the glass.

As I slumped to the next room to go to bed, Daddy grabbed me and picked me up off the floor and hollered at Momma that we’re going out for just a minute. She hollered back oh no you’re not - but he was laughing and so was I, and maybe Momma was too.

Daddy stood me on top of his boots so my sock-feet would stay dry. I hold so few memories, but standing on his boots when it was wet and cold, the comfort of his arms pulling me into his ragged old denim coat, you don’t forget that.

Just look at it, son, just look at it. Listen. The snow fell like feathers, or blankets, and the grass fought and surrendered, and the trees were glorified in the whiteness that rarely came to my home. The quiet, I remember the quiet, as all sounds were muffled. I could see Daddy’s coon dog running off toward the pond, and that was the only movement. The old Dodge truck was losing its form and our swingset was barely visible through the larger wisps of rushing snow.

The moon shone upon it all and gave us a feel of warmth and reflection, like a new quilt, then turned the colors of the world all yellow and white. Daddy said that if he ever gets to Heaven, that he’s just about sure that it will look like that, made to order. Then he whisked me up and said better not get Momma mad.

It’ll be a foot deep tomorrow and we’ll have snow cream. Ain’t no way y’all are going to school in this, the bus couldn’t get up here even if it quit snowing right this minute. Get your teeth brushed and get in bed and your momma will be there in a minute to say prayers with you.

His whiskers scratched my cheek. Sweet dreams, horsefly, feel better.

Goodnight, Daddy.


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