STONE AND CANVAS©️
Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
I loved Sunday drives with G.B. On the routes he chose, crossing ranch land and traveling forest service roads, it was not unusual to drive all day and never see another moving vehicle. One Sunday on such a drive, our first stop was the Santa Cruz quarry.
G.B. and I were strolling across the floor of the quarry enjoying the fresh pastel morning, when he abruptly left my side and walked to the canyon edge.
I watched him stand arms-akimbo, the backs of his hands pressed tightly against his waist. As he stared down the canyon, his fingers moved in jerks and flutters, marking his thoughts.
He turned to face me, “Charle, y’all never will brag on yerself when I tell y’all to . . . . Do y’all thank ah’m a no-good, braggin’, struttin’ ol’ thang – like Howard Grey’s fancy blue bird?” The humour of his analogy to Howard’s peacock was voided by the sadness in his countenance.
“Oh Honey, don’t be sad G.B. We’re different and that’s the fun of it. We . . .”
“Charle,” he interrupted taking my hands and staring at me – his eyes filled with desperation. “Charle, if I don’t brag on myself, how will anyone ever know? What’s it all been fer?”
We walked side by side to the quarry face. He stared along the massive angled steps of unquarried champagne coloured stone. “Sweetheart, I’ve worked so damned hard all my life. I’ve suffered, I’ve hurt an’ my heart has busted more times than a man could count. I miss m’ kids Charle.”
“When I first come out here in nineteen and fifty, times were, I couldn’t stop thankin’ ‘bout ‘em. I’d get in m’ pick-up an’ drive clear to the top a’ Bill Williams mountain. I’d set myself down facein’ due east, lookin’ straight towards Oklahoma an’ I’d cry fer my babies ‘till all the tears was gone.” As he spoke, he was oblivious to tears still streaming down his dear face.
“They know Sweetheart.” I reassured him. “The kids love you dear and all our kids are proud of you.” G.B. frowned at me as I continued, “Oh you blow like a rocket and you wouldn’t hesitate to chase anyone down the street with a pitchfork. Your emotions hurt people but your bluster is part of your charm and you are a good man G.B. I have seen you be more forgiving and more giving to people in need, than any person I have ever met. Life would be awfully dull and a whole lot harder for everyone, without you, Love.”
“Y’all thank so Charle?” he asked like a little boy smiling hopefully through his tears.
“Oh yes.” I answered emphatically, “I love you G.B.”
“Wall . . .” he pondered with fresh enthusiasm. “We didn’t talk to Brownie at the station this mornin’, let’s go back to town. Maybe Spence or some of the rock doodlers are there an’ I could tell ever’one ‘bout the house we’re a-gonna buy – come Monday.”
And my dear sweet Okie-boy was off again, “a-goin’, an’ a-blowin’ an’ a-braggin’