May Angels Fly With You

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Chapter 2 God's Will

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” an old proverb proclaims. Those words were probably never truer than in the situation the Nolan brothers found themselves in that first year with Baby Girl. Fortunately for them, and Baby Girl, Grady was inventive and handy. One of the first things he made for the baby was a portable baby bed that could be used in many situations. He then devised ways to mount it to several different implements so Baby Girl could go to the field and ride along with them when the weather was fit. He also made a special place in the barn for Baby’s bed so they could keep watch over her as they milked the cows. Whenever Tom, the old orange tabby barn cat, would climb in her bed and make her giggle as he rubbed his soft fur against her face, they both stopped milking and listened with smiles on their faces. The sound a baby makes when they giggle is more pleasing than any music man has ever composed.

“You got the bed?” Mace asked as they headed to the barn one evening to do the milking.

“Yep, got the blankets, bottle, pacifier and extra diaper too.”

“What about the baby?”

“Guess I did forget one thing,” Mace admitted as he headed back to the house.

Nelly’s instructions took on a new importance. In addition to hands on training, she brought books and pamphlets on baby care, usually published by the government and various baby supply manufacturers, for them to read. Topics covered were bottle feeding and making baby formulae out of cow’s milk, avoiding diaper rash, how to soothe a crying baby, what to do about a colicky baby, bathing a baby and etc. The Uncles

read each item with interest, anxious to learn anything that might help them with the daunting task they had undertaken.

One Sunday morning as Mace was getting ready for church, Grady commented, “Been a while since I set foot in church. Reckon I’m too much of a sinner to start going again?”

“Never too late to get right with the almighty,” Mace replied. “Folks in the church will be happy to have you, now that you’ve finally stopped drinking and carousing.”

“That’s Baby Girl’s doing,” Grady admitted. “Found something a lot more enjoyable than making a fool a myself I some dimly-lit bar. And shouldn’t we figger a way to introduce Baby Girl to the church congregation, seeing as how we’re going to be bringing her up?” Grady continued. “She’s going to need all the help she can get with learning how to be proper and good. Lord knows I ain’t got much to brag about in that department, and you ain’t a whole lot better.”

“Might aughta be talkin’ to the pastor ‘bout baptizin’ Baby Girl, too,” Mace added. “And ‘fore we kin do that, we’re gonna hafta give her a proper name. I ain’t never heard a anybody goin’ through life with the name Baby Girl before.”

“I been sayin’ for a long time we should give Baby Girl a proper name,” Grady acknowledged.

“Well, then quit arguing with me every time I come up with a good one.”

“You’re the one does the arguin’!” Grady shot back. “Who ever heard a namin’ someone Daisy? That don’t make no sense. She ain’t no flower, least she don’t smell like one when she fills her diaper. And she sure as hell ain’t no cow. Daisy is a fine cow’s name but it don’t fit with no little girl.”

“Makes more sense than Greta. Just ’cause you saw a picture of this foreign movie star named Greta in a magazine, and got all googly over her, don’t mean we gotta name Baby Girl after her.”

“Tell you what,” Grady replied, after giving the matter some thought. “Here’s how we’re gonna do it. You come up with the best name you can by next Saturday at suppertime and I’ll do the same. Write it on a piece of paper. We’ll invite Nelly and Jess for supper and one a them can pull one of the slips outta a hat. Fairest way I know of to settle the matter.”

“I think Nelly oughta get to put her idear in there too, considering all she’s done for Baby Girl.”

“Well, what about Jess? Shouldn’t he get to put his pick in the hat, too?”

“You’re pullin’ my leg, aren’t you?” Mace replied. “Jess would just want to name her after one a his coonhounds. Or, worse yet, one a his mules. I don’t think “Eeyore” would be too fittin’ a name for a little girl. ‘Sides, somebody that ain’t got a hand in the game has gotta reach in the hat and pull out the winnin’ name.”

Nelly was happy as a boardinghouse pup when Mace told her of the plans for naming the baby. “I’ll be there with bells on,” She replied. “I already got a name in my head. Was gonna suggest it but didn’t think it was my place to do so. It’s just the perfect name for our little girl.”

So sure was Nelly that she had the perfect name for Baby Girl, she devised a plan to tilt the odds in her favor a bit. “Here’s what we’re gonna do, Jess. I’ll write the name on a piece a paper and then I’m gonna take my scissors and cut just a little bit off the corner. With a little practice, you’ll be able to pick my paper outta the hat, slick as a slop jar.”

“Why Nelly, that’s cheatin’! That ain’t no fair at all and I ain’t gonna be no part of it.”

“Yes you are, Jess Bohlander. Now, I love those two Nolan boys like they was my own sons, but that don’t mean I’d trust them when it comes to given that little girl a proper name. We’d be doin’ them, and Baby Girl, a big favor and they’d never hafta know. Besides, if I don’t get to name that baby, I’ll be so disappointed I may stop fixin’ that apple cake you like so well.”

“Well, when you put it that way, I guess it makes sense. What’s this name you got already picked out?”

When Saturday night finally rolled around, Mace spent a little extra time making what he considered his specialty, corn bread and soup beans. Nelly brought an apple crumb cake for dessert. All agreed that the drawing would not be held until supper was eaten, the table cleared, and dishes were washed. Everyone was anxious for the drawing to take place so there was very little table talk and lots of fast eating. It was understandable that no one asked for seconds of Mace’s beans and cornbread, but unusual for no one to ask for a second piece of Nelly’s apple crumb cake.

As the dishes were being dried and put in the cupboard, Baby Girl, who had been sleeping, woke up and started crying. Grady went into the baby’s room and changed her diaper, then brought her out to the kitchen.

“You’re about to get a real name, Baby Girl,” he cooed as he sat at the table and cradled her in his lap.

Jess reached for his straw hat off the peg where he had put it when he came in and held it up in the air. “Time to put your names in the hat,” he announced.

“Here’s mine,” Grady announced as he stood up, holding Baby Girl with one arm, and dropped his slip of paper in the hat. Mace pulled his paper out of his shirt pocket and did the same. Nelly gave Jess a quick stern look before placing her entry in the hat with the other two.

“Here, Jess. Let me hold the hat and you reach up and pull out a name,” Mace suggested. Jess handed the hat to Mace, being careful to keep it high in the air. Mace reached above his head and stirred the contents of the hat. Jess then reached his hand up into the old straw hat and felt around for a few seconds.

“What’re you doin’ Jess?” Mace asked, impatiently. “All you gotta do is pick one and read it. Shouldn’t be that hard.”

Jess felt around inside the hat another second or two and then, as a grin came over his face, selected one of the slips of paper. He held it in front of him so only he could see the writing on it.

Well, what’s it say?” Mace anxiously asked. “Don’t just stand there starin’ at it. Tell us what it says!”

“Yeah, Jess,” Grady chimed in. “Just tell us the name.”

Nelly tried to hide the look of satisfaction on her face by appearing as anxious as the Uncles.

“That don’t make no sense,” Jess mumbled.

“What don’t make no sense?” Mace asked. “Just tell us the name!”

“Well, the name is…..”

“Hang on there, Jess,” Nelly cried, snatching the paper from his hand before he could announce what was written on it. She stared at it for a second or two before proclaiming, “That ain’t right!” With a puzzled look on her face, she reluctantly handed the slip of paper to Grady.

Mace and Grady both saw the name at the same time. A broad smile came over Mace’s face while Grady’s face showed just the opposite reaction. While the others were still trying to figure out what had just happened, Mace quickly reached in the hat and grabbed the other two slips of paper. He had hoped he wouldn’t be seen but Nelly’s keen eyes caught him as he stuffed the papers in his pocket.

“Not so fast, Mace!” Let’s have a look-see at those papers you just stuffed in your pocket.”

Grady, who was suspecting foul play by now, and Jess, who knew there was foul play, both looked at Mace.

“I was just gonna throw these other slips away,” Mace replied. “No need to look at them. We already got a name for Baby Girl”

“Let’s have a look at em, just the same,” Grady demanded.

Mace knew he was caught, and further resistance would be futile. Reluctantly, and with a sheepish look on his face, he pulled the two slips of paper out of his pocket. Nelly quickly grabbed them and put them on the table for all to see.

“Well I’ll be jiggered!” Grady proclaimed. “They all got the same name on em. Now how in the world do you s’pose that happened? That wasn’t the name I wrote. How ’bout you, Nelly?”

“Not the name I wrote neither,” Nelly replied. “You got any idea how this coulda happened, Mace?”

“Damndest thing I ever seen!” Mace proclaimed.

“Well, ain’t but one thing to do now,” Grady said. “We gotta do it over. Let’s all take a new slip a paper and put our baby names on it and do this fair-like. Maybe Mace shouldn’t be allowed this time, after what he just pulled.”

“I can forgive Mace for what he did,” Nelly responded. “But he better not try it again. It ain’t decent to try and cheat.”

Jess looked at Nelly with a “pot calling the kettle black” grin.

After the three new slips were folded and put in the hat, Mace picked it up and held it above his head.

“Hang on there, Mace,” Grady cautioned. “If it’s all the same to you, I’ll hold the hat this time.”

“Grady took the hat and held it above Jess’ head. Jess reached in quickly and grabbed one of the folded slips. Setting it on the table as he unfolded it, he announced, “Well, there’s the winner!”

Nelly, Mace and Grady all stared at the paper in silence. Finally, Grady spoke. “Looks like I win. Baby Girl is gonna be named Elizabeth.”

“You know, she does kinda look like an Elizabeth,” Mace agreed. “I can live with that name.”

“Well, it coulda been a lot worse,” Nelly added. “How ’bout we call her Beth for short?”

“Why not Liz?” Mace asked.

“I don’t much care for Liz,” Grady agreed. “I had Beth and not Lizzy in mind when I come up with that name. I don’t want other kids callin’ Baby Girl Lizard while she’s growin’ up.”

“Guess it’s all decided then,” Jess said as he pinched Beth’s cheek. “Hi there little Elizabeth.”

“Ain’t she gonna need a middle name?” Mace asked. “How we gonna decide on a middle name now?”

“How ’bout Marie?” Grady asked.

“Suits me,” Mace replied, after giving it some hasty thought.

“Seems fittin’,” Nelly added as she looked at the slip she had first submitted with the name Marie written on it. “Your ma would be proud. Ain’t no woman more deserving to have a beautiful baby girl named after her than your ma, may she rest in peace. And Beth won’t have to grow up with the name Bluebell, thank The Lord for small favors.”

“Now what’s wrong with that name?” Mace asked. “Not that I ain’t startin’ to see Elizabeth Marie as maybe a little better choice.”

“Ain’t Elizabeth Marie gonna need a birth certificate sometime?” Grady asked.

“You let me take care a that,” Nelly replied.

The following Sunday after chores, Grady and Mace dressed in their Sunday best, wrapped Beth in a blanket and drove to church. As soon as they entered the vestibule carrying an infant, the whisper explosion began. A few of the good people of Trinity Lutheran Church, very few as it turned out, had their curiosity satisfied when Pastor Marcus, after Mace had a conference with him before service, announced that Mace and Grady Nolan had brought the baby daughter of their half-sister to the service with them. For the rest of the congregation, that only increased their curiosity.

“I had no idea Mace and Grady even had a half-sister,” Ann Couch whispered.

“I wonder why they didn’t bring the baby’s mother to church too?” Mary Ross wondered.

Mace and Grady were determined to give the baby every opportunity that she deserved, and they considered belonging to a church family as one of those opportunities.

It took several Sundays of the Uncles and Baby Beth showing up in church before the women of the congregation finally stopped asking questions, at least to Mace and Grady. The Uncles didn’t try to cover up

any of the facts, answering every nosy question as honestly as they could. They felt they had nothing to hide.

On a cold December morning, with two proud Uncles standing on either side of the baptismal font and Nelly and Jess Bohlander, two proud Godparents, standing just steps away, Baby Girl was baptized into the Christian faith. Mace held her as Pastor Marcus addressed questions to them about the numerous responsibilities they would be undertaking to help their child grow in the faith and in life. All four answered each question, “With God’s help, we do.” The pastor then addressed the congregation, asking if they too promised to support and pray for the child and her family. “With God’s help, we do,” the congregation answered in unison.

After blessing Baby Beth with a sprinkling of holy water from the baptismal font, the pastor proclaimed, “Elizabeth Marie Nolan, I now baptize you in the name of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.” An unlit candle was passed to Grady, who lit it from the Christ Candle as Pastor Marcus repeated these words, “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

The pastor then presented Mace with a gift for the newly baptized baby from the congregation, a black bound bible with gold lettering. On the first page, also in gold letters, was the date and the words: “To Elizabeth Marie Nolan from Trinity Lutheran Church. May The Lord bless you and may His word be a light for your journey throughout your life.”

It may have been unusual to have two uncles in the baptismal role that is normally the parent’s but, by this time, the congregation understood and accepted the reasons. Seeing the love the two uncles felt for this baby, they all were satisfied that she could be raised by the loving uncles and Godparents before them. In these difficult times the country was currently in, they were sure she was blessed to be in their hands and more fortunate than many other children.

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