Telling the story of Miss Cassie and Willie

We were all back in the old Studebaker. Me, sis, grandma and mama. Everybody had left. Miss Cassie and Willie stood on the porch. Grandpa handed Cassie a phone number.

“That’s a neighbor just down the road from us; they got one of them telephones. You set Willie off into town if you havin’ an emergency. Savannah’s only 50 mile. We’ll be here in a couple of hours.”

Cassie smiled. Willie looked so sad. Grandpa walked back up the stairs and hugged them both, then shook Willie’s hand. Willie cracked a smile.

“Mama, can I take my shoes off?” my sister begged.

Grandma dabbed at her eyes and waved goodbye.

“You kids set back and count the horses and cows on the way back to Savannah.”

As we drove along the dusty dirt road that ran alongside Uncle Jim’s property, Frank pointed. “Everytime I look out at those fields I can see Jim with Willie following behind. Jim could get more out of a piece of land than anybody I knew.”

“Cassie told me she already patched Willie’s flannel shirt until there isn’t any of the original material left,” mama laughed.

“That sure turned out to be a good Christmas gift.”

Grandpa told us how good it was that Jim and Cassie loved Willie so much.

“I remember Jim telling me about when they first got that television. Him and Cassie spent more time watching Willie watch television than lookin’ at it themselves.”

“Grandpa is Willie crazy or just kind of dumb?” sis very innocently asked.

“Willie was born that way” grandpa explained. “His mind was where he just never grew up. Over the years, though, I believe he picked up some of the wisdom of your Uncle Jim.”

“Grandpa, what’s the difference between being smart and having wisdom?” I asked.

“Being smart” grandpa said, “is knowing the right answers to questions. Wisdom means you know why they are the right answers.”

“You youngins’ set back and relax. We’ll stop at Mr. Bill’s for ice cream before we get home.”

A month passed by. Mama came running from the mailbox. We had gotten a letter from Miss Cassie. Grandpa opening it, handed it to mama for her to read. We all gathered around.

“Dear Frank and family,” it started. “Ya’ll was such a comfort and help during the funeral and all. Can’t thank ya’ll enough.”

Put a “For Sale” sign up cause me and Willie can’t keep up this big ol’ farm the way Jim did. Willie pulled the sign up and hid it up in the big oak tree. I told him a good wind would bring that sign down on one of our heads. I promised him we would try and lease the pasture land before we go sellin’.”

“Most we do nowadays is sit on the front porch. I tell Willie about Jim when he was a younger man a courtin’ me. Late in the evening, ol’ whippoorwill gets up in Jim’s oak tree and sings the evening in. Jim used to swear that was the twenty-first generation bird in that tree. He sings a little sadder now. He misses Jim like me and Willie.”

Grandpa took his glasses off, pretended to be wiping them. I saw a tear but quickly looked away.

“That’s all for now. Ya’ll come see us. Hug them youngins.’ Me and Willie’s doin’ fine.”