wash my face lord


Danny’s dead. He died because he didn’t want to live anymore, if you want to know the truth of it. That’s hard on a family. Knowing someone they love would rather be dead in a hole in the ground than be with them. And that’s where they all said he was. Because he didn’t believe.

A boy from the mountain, turned into an old man, preached his funeral: “We can’t help this poor soul anymore. It’s too late for him now. But we can help our living brothers and sisters…..”

Maybe someone should have shook him a little. Saying the things he did. No peace be with you or God’s gonna comfort you. Just “Well, he went to hell but you don’t have to.” I’d have hit him over the head with the Good Book he was beatin’ if I thought it would do any good.

He meant well. I guess. But what’s that they say about the road to hell……

Pa says the preacher’s a fine man. He and Danny grew up with him. His brother would have wanted him there, to say the last words anyone ever said about him.

I don’t know about that. I think maybe Debbie should have done it. I think he would have liked that. Cause some preachers don’t know what they think they do, and I don’t think that preacher knew much about Danny.

Sure, he knew he drank and raised hell for 50 years. Who didn’t? Knew when he was young he spent more time in a Jailhouse Avenue bed than in his own. Knew he met his old lady in a bar in String Town.

“She was dancing on a table,” Danny told me this himself, “I took her home and never took her back.”

“That’s a fact, boys.” Pa was with him on the night.

The preacher didn’t know Danny spent most of his life thinking Pa was good enough for the both of ’em, and one day, before it was too late, he’d make it right.

Now, maybe that ain’t the way to do it. To a preacher’s way of thinking. But that’s how Danny done it. I believe.

A week before he died, before he decided he wasn’t gonna move anymore and nobody could make him, he told Pa he was going home. Said he’d let the Reverend take him down to the river and wash his face.

A man like Danny don’t go down to the river for nothin’. He don’t talk about baptisin’ lest he means it. He ain’t about show.

The preacher’s busy on the pulpit, trying to help the living on their way to the other side. Well, maybe Danny didn’t need his help. Maybe he done it himself. A man can do those things. Without a mountain preacher. If he really wants to.

Maybe someone’s washin’ his face right now. Down in the Jordan.

You never know. And that’s all I’m tryin’ to say.

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4 Comments

  • Husband of Hattigrace
    Feb 19, 2006 at 17:24

    Wow, that was close to home readin. My mother-in law, who I loved dearly and miss constantly, took the fire escape 10 days before departure. The Grace of God Is the most amazing part of life I think
    The Husband

  • Rob Wilson
    Apr 22, 2006 at 4:24

    When my great great uncle died, my other great great Uncle Osler got on top of the casket during the graveside ceremonies with one of those megaphones and proclaimed that the box’s occupant was soon to break Hell open. “Awl ya’ll gonna foller him too!” He screamed, waving his Bible so hard a thousand crude bookmarks flew out and peppered the crowd.

    Of course, my Great Grandfather Percy pulled him down off the casket and swore a most awful blood-oath that he’d be dead before sunset from the beating he’d catch if he didn’t depart immediately. I always liked Great Grandpa Percy. He was a saucy old coot.

    And that ain’t fiction, sister.

  • tallglassofvino
    Jun 21, 2006 at 7:35

    I’m so glad that your time in England hasn’t altered your West Virginia voice.

    I’ve lived all over, and carry snippits of regional accent with me (hawaiian pidgen, german clip, georgia and texas drawl) and call upon them at will.

    It’s like a splendid costume wardrobe I pack that cloaks me appropriately, no matter the occasion.

    Yours does, too.

  • Julie Buffaloe-Yoder
    Sep 12, 2008 at 20:35

    Hello. I’m so glad I found your site. You are amazing. I’m in love, and I’m not even bi. Your writing blows me out of my seat and into next week, and I’m so glad you’re here. Okay…enough of my gushing. It’s sort of sickening, huh?

    Here’s one for you. A good old Carolina fight at a funeral. My family got in a fight in front of the casket. It started because one of my aunts rented a limousine for certain members of the family to ride in. Others thought she was being uppity. She probably was, but…whatever. No shit. It was awful. Painful. But funny when I think about it now. When all the hell was over, they ate fried chicken. They’d disown me if they knew I was telling this on the internet. Luckily, they don’t have the internet.

    Thanks for the awesome site. I can’t wait to read it all.

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