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Monday, June 15, 2009

A Toast to Bonnie Goodman

Every person in our community, who experiences the force of love, felt a quake in that force on Sunday as Bonnie Goodman left us. Bonnie and Jack Goodman were married for 67 years and had a bond so strong that no one knows what might happen to our world now that one of them is gone. If the planets suddenly stop orbiting as they always have, no one should be surprised.

My personal knowledge of Bonnie and Jack goes back well over 40 years. Growing up in the First Christian Church and knowing them both as Sunday School teachers and all around examples of how folks could actually live out the teachings of the sermon on the mount, I came to think of Bonnie and Jack as the text book definition of a perfect marriage and infinite love . . . and I was right about that.

After my formal education and my return to Glasgow, I got to experience Jack as a member of the Board of Directors of the EPB and that opened the door to a whole new understanding of the Bonnie and Jack binary star system. Each and every interaction with them left me ashamed of the vast divide between my ability to win friends and influence people when compared to them. They created their own gravity and exported kindness as a perpetual motion machine.

Just a few years ago we planned a train trip which included a stop in Glacier National Park. While I had no intention of becoming a tour guide, Bonnie and Jack heard about the trip and made their own plans to ride along. That was fine with me. We had reservations to stay for a couple of nights at Glacier Park Lodge, a famously large and rustic old lodge built of massive Douglas Fir trunks which tower over forty feet high. The lobby is huge and bustling with travelers from all over the world who have come to see the pristine Montana wilderness and the last of North America’s glaciers. After we unloaded our bags and got comfortable in the lobby, Bonnie exclaimed, “The only way to make this better would be to add a little music,” whereupon she walked up to a massive grand piano, sat down, and commenced to play. Everyone in the lobby stopped what they were doing and tuned in to the vibe being created by Bonnie. Folks from different states, countries, and continents were suddenly entranced by the combined beauty of the mountains, the lodge, and the love pouring out of Bonnie’s fingers through the piano keys. After a few songs, Bonnie excused herself from the keyboard and started dancing with Jack to reverberations of the music she had created moments before. Strangers wept.

The next day we were touring the park in the famous old buses. The mountains, glaciers, streams, waterfalls, and the sky combine at Glacier National Park in a way that makes the spirit soar as in no other place on earth. Toward the end of the day the stars began to come out to add even more glory to the sights we were beholding. But, as the trip wound down and the guides asked the crowd for questions, a young couple in behind me simply asked the guide “How soon will we be back at the lodge?” “We want to be there when that lady from Kentucky starts playing the piano!” I looked out at the visual pallette of the sky and the mountains and smiled in complete understanding of how being around Bonnie trumped seeing the last of North America’s glaciers under a billion stars. After all, there are lots of mountains and stars, but only one Bonnie and Jack.

Bonnie’s passing creates a void that will be felt far beyond the confines of our small community, just as the love they generated created a wake that trailed her and Jack always. Let’s hope those waves never dissipate.

1 comments:

Paul W said...

Thank you, Billy.

The Glacier Park story is a Bonnie story that I had never heard before. She was a special person, immensely proud of Glasgow and deeply "in love" with Jack Goodman. If anyone else who reads this tribute would like to share another Bonnie story, I would greatly appreciate it.

She is missed already.

Paul White
grand nephew of Bonnie & Jack Goodman
Raleigh, North Carolina

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