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Commentary by William Carter: Prayer just helps, know what I mean?

It was “air you could wear” that day at four in the afternoon — hot and heavy and sticky — and my T-shirt was damp by the time I walked from the house to the car with my five-iron and my pitching wedge and tossed them through an open window and on to the back seat. Before I got behind the wheel I looked around the yard at the gone-to-seed salvia in the flower beds all hugged up to the weeds and the bug-eaten hostas and the leggy petunias and then I looked over — but pretended not to look — at the sad shape of my exhausted, needed-to-be-weeded, little vegetable garden and thought secretly about how sick I am right now of pole beans and yellow squash and, God help me, I even thought unkindly on home-grown tomatoes for a micro-second or two and I was more than aware there was plenty for me to do, from corner to corner, in our yard on this obviously August afternoon but, let’s face it, some days…some days are not good days and this had been one of those days and the last thing I wanted to do was acknowledge my responsibilities of home-ownership and adulthood and all of the other things expected of me and, besides, I had this weird feeling I was one half-step off from the rest of the world and the best thing for me to do would be to remove myself from it for and hour or two by doing something totally selfish and of no benefit to anyone else but me.

Know what I mean?

I hopped in the car and headed towards a good friend’s place — a man with acreage — to practice my swing. On the passenger’s side floor-board were two-and-a-half gallons of golf balls in a five-gallon bucket and on the seat beside me was a new can of Skoal and a small, Habitat for Humanity cooler filled with ice and three bottles of Snapple peach tea and I didn’t have my cell phone with me and John Prine was on the stereo competing with the wind rushing in through all four opened windows and then I got to my friend’s place and got all of my stuff out of the car and stood looking out over the recently bush-hogged hay field while I put my glove on and then I cut a slit in the paper around the tin top of my new can of Skoal with my fingernail and put a big pinch in my cheek and then I opened a bottle of Snapple and it made a little “pop” when I did and tiny pieces of ice from the cooler clung to my hand and that felt good and when I lifted the Snapple to my mouth to drink cold water dripped from the bottle and trickled down my arm and then dripped off my elbow and that felt good,

I upended the bucket of used golf balls and they spilled out and pooled around my feet and most were discolored or nicked or cut and all at one time or another could have been an eagle on a par five or a chip to the pin from 20 yards out or a picture-perfect bunker shot into the cup and it was hard not to think of them now as failed promises or spent wishes so I tried not to and I picked up my five-iron and stepped away and lined up my shot and hit an old Titlest and it sailed away through the thick, heated air and landed beside a rusted cultivator at rest in the field and then I hit another and then another and most didn’t go where I intended for them to go but more than a few did and that was OK with me and when all the balls were gone I thought about going out and hunting them down but decided to leave them where they were to regain their promise or to become wishes once again and I packed all my stuff up and got in the car and headed home feeling a little better than I did but not quite yet where I wanted to be.

A mile down the much-traveled road towards home there was a monster of an old Cadillac pulled to one side with a flat tire and there was a very old tiny, little lady standing behind the car with her long yellow dress whipping and fluttering around her ankles from the wind created by all the other cars passing her by and I passed her by, too, and I remember growling to myself and then I sighed and I made a u-turn and went back and pulled in behind her and noticed the car was rusted and the vinyl top was torn and the back window was cracked and she smiled and smiled at me as I got out and asked her if I could help and she actually clapped her hands together a few times like a small child and said “Thank you, thank you” and I popped the trunk latch and it took me about 15 minutes to remove all the stuff crammed in there so I could get to the spare and the whole time the lady was telling me she couldn’t pay me and I kept telling her that was OK and when I was done she told me to wait and she dug around in the back seat of her car and pulled out a huge old Rolodex stuffed with bits of paper and business cards and plucked out a blank card and told me to write my name down on it because she was going pray for me and I wrote my name down and gave it back to her and she looked at it and told me it might be awhile before she got to me because she was on the letter “M” right now and had to go all the way to the end of the alphabet before she started over because other people were waiting on their prayers and I told her I didn’t mind because some days…some days are not good days and this had been one of those days but the promise of her prayer had just made it so much better.
Know what I mean?

William Carter is a longtime Franklin city employee and published author. He may be contacted at


Posted on: 8/27/2009


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