Ever’body calls me Goose. It’s not my real name, it’s jus’ a nickname. Thelma Jean Robertson, that’s my given name, but no one even remembers.
I asked Ma why I was called Goose and she pinched my cheeks and grinned. “You’re as cute as a little feathered goose butt.” Later that day, I wiped off the mirror and peered closely at my reflection—my freckled nose, ordinary brown hair caught up in two braids, and a mouth with too-large teeth. Who would call that cute?
My dad was out’n the barnyard when I asked him. He took off his seed corn cap and scratched his head. “I reckon we call you Goose ‘cause you’re such a goosey young’un. You run and jump around—inside and out—we can hardly keep track of you.”
Now I do like to move. Sittin’ still jus’ makes me fidget. But, do I flap my wings and soar up offen the pond? I don’t think so.
I woulda ask my big brother, Clint, but he’d say sumpin mean, like I smelled like goose poop. My lil sister, Shortning wouldn’t be no help neither. She cain’t member nothin’ nohows, cause she’s a baby.
So I asked my Mawmaw. She’s my dad’s Ma and she’s been round pert near a hun’red years.
She put her arms roun’ me and drew me into a hug that ‘most smothered me, but her hugs always make me feel warm inside, like cornbread right outta the oven.
“Chile, you weren’t sposed to make your appearance till mid January. But jus’ at the tail end of the snowstorm of ’48, on Christmas Eve, your Ma knew you was a comin’. The road was blocked. The doc couldn’t make it out here, it was jus’ me ‘n yer Pa, and of course your Ma. She labored all night and most the next day. When you finely come out, you was an itty bitty thing and not cryin’ jus’ kinda whimprin’. Yer dad said, “She’s not much bigger ‘n a goose egg.”
Yer Ma sat up and reached for you. “It’s Christmas Day.” She looked at Pa. “Did you kill that old goose we been fattenin’ up?”
“Ain’t nobody gonna fix a goose this Christmas day. This here’s our little goose. We can eat sweet taters and some of that ham I smoked.”
Yer Ma and Pa looked at each other and smiled and held you close. And you was the best Christmas present of all.”
After that, I didn’t much mind who called me Goose. It was lots better than Thelma Jean.
Susan Lawrence taught elementary school for 33 years before hanging up her chalkboard to write and speak. She writes novels for both adults and middle grade children. Susan lives in Iowa with her husband and short-legged Lab, Molly. She has 3 children and 7 grandchildren who love to hear her stories.