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The Goodman Family

I was on a business trip many years ago in a strange town and went to eat in what was supposed to be one of the better places to eat...Having learned my lesson by just guessing about eating places, I had learned my lesson and did ask the client where to go.

At the next table to me was a man a few years older than me but he looked like he had just stepped out of a magazine somewhere. Every hair in place, expensive suit, expensive jewelry, all the trimmings.. Usually this type are usually loud and trying to get attention or too stuck on themselves to talk to us commoners.. But somehow this fellow was different... He was nice to the waiters and spoke to others who passed his table like they were old friends and he had the nicest smile I had seen in a long time...

After ordering, I set back and started to notice how he dealt with people...He seemed to have a magnetism about him that is a rare quality.. Being my normal self, I spoke to him as I was becoming curious as to who this man was. He was no one I had remembered seeing in a movie or any other special place so there was nothing to go on but what I was seeing.. as he was sitting alone and so was I, he asked if I wanted to join him at his table so we wouldn't have to talk across several tables.
Being curious, I said why not..

He seemed every part a gentleman and something about him was seemingly so kind, I was curious.. I introduced myself and he said call me Rusty.. Ok and off we went talking about kids and wives and all the other reasons that make the world go around and lunch flew by but we continued to talk... Seemed Rusty was in town to see a doctor as he was having some health problems and he had just got back from an all morning test session. I assured him he looked healthy as a horse and I was sure it was nothing to worry about. We said our good-byes and each expressed enjoyment about the sharing of ideas and thoughts we had been through in the past almost 2 hours.. I figured I would never see him again but I was wrong. Funny how people come and go in and out during our lives and what impressions some leave while others leave a bad taste for knowing them...

Under most times in my life when I have met someone under these type circumstances, its just a one time thing and you soon forget about it and it stores itself away somewhere in the 95% of our brain that we think is called memory but science isn't sure yet... But somehow this happened a second time about three months later... Same place and about the same time of day.. As I entered the place, my eyes were immediately drawn to a corner booth where sat my friend from the former meeting, alone again. As we had spent so much time talking before, I didn't feel like he was totally a stranger so I went over to say hello.. He invited me to share his table again and after the usual greetings and order placing, I remembered him saying the last time that he was in town to see a doctor.. I thought that I should be at least be polite and ask about his health just to show good manners.. He actually looked better this time than before so I didn't expect the answer I received..

He told me that according to his doctor that his time was limited and he would be seeing changes soon and there wasn't anything but treatments they could try but no promises as it wasn't the kind of thing that modern medicine had much success with...Naturally I couldn't understand how he seemed to be taking all this like we were talking about yesterday's ballgame scores because I would, at that time in my life, probably be jumping up and down, demanding several more opinions from other doctors.. But he seemed so relaxed by it all I had to ask why... Then I really started to find out who this person was and what made him tick..

He was a singer and song writer who sung with his brothers and a sister-in-law but I had never heard of the group he said he was with... Rusty was Rusty Goodman and his family sung under the name "The Happy Goodmans"... Gospel singing... I wasn't into that kind of music so I didn't have a clue how big they were in their type of music until later when I took the time to check out his story.. I was still too busy wondering how a man could be so cheerful when his doctor had just told him he had probably two years to live if all went well.. To say astounded at how well he was handling this was an understatement.

Being my usual nosy self, I came right out and said to him "how can you seem so content with this hanging over your head?" The reply was simple and right to the point...He said he had always believed in God and what ever happened was in God's hands.. He went on to tell me it was a matter of faith and trust which at this point in my life wasn't exactly on the front burner but it did start me thinking later and lead to some life changing decisions on my part but this is not about me.. This is about Rusty.. We finished lunch and he had to leave as his family had a singing engagement and he had to go catch the family bus...

I never did see him again in person but I did see him... I have a sister who collects gospel music albums and when I told her this story, she pulled out several albums and sure enough there was Rusty with a smile big as Texas... I told her about the meetings we had made and she was mad that I hadn't got his autograph... At the time I didn't think I needed his autograph but if you have a sister, you know how it goes...

I guess it was about a year later and I was home channel surfing on the cable looking for something to watch and on a program called the 700 club, there was Rusty... singing away by himself... but looking 10 years older than he had a year before but the big smile had never left him or the great attitude.. Once I had heard him sing, I became a life long fan.. He was being interviewed by whoever was the host and was discussing the fine art of dieing with dignity.. Imagine that....dieing with dignity.. I listened on and he was telling the host of the show about it being a matter of faith and trust... Reminded me of the talk we had in the eatery but I listened anyway.. It still struck a nerve and he continued on about writing a song that his family had recorded but he said in a way it was a song to them rather than a song for the rest of mankind...OK...OK...Why just to them I wondered as I thought if he was attempting to promote God to others, why a song to his family alone.....Until I heard the song... which also included his daughter singing with the family group.. I certainly am not going to record the song and send to each of you who read this but I remember most of the wording and to us who believe, I think its fairly plain and meaningful...I might have forgot a word somewhere, so if I did, keep in mind I'm doing this from memory and I have a real cluttered mind anyway so I don't need correcting.. The point stays the same.. .A matter of faith.. a matter of believing in the unseen.. and in a way.. believing in the future of something I feel but I can't show you a picture but I can try to paint a picture in your mind.. Here tis...

When you finally make your entrance to that city
And you walk down that golden avenue
And you behold all its beauty and its splendor
Remember this request I make of you
Look for me...for I will be there too
I realize when you first arrive
There'll be so much to do
After you've been there ten thousand years, a million or maybe two
Look for me.. for I will be there too

When you go down your list of stories there's no question
You're gonna miss some of your loved ones, maybe even me
When you've shared all your stories with the last one
who wants to hear you tell just how you made it through
Look for me.. I'd like to hear it too

After you've been there ten thousand years, a million or maybe two
Look for me...I will be there too..

....I like this and it sticks in my mind like it was glued.. A simple story.. A happy ending... A matter of faith in things unseen... I walk into the unknown... trusting like a child.... Is this banter?.. Not in the usual sense but I never promised anyone that I would act normal here or anywhere else.. Here's the end of the story

...Rusty made it a little longer than the doctor thought.. He actually looked like he aged 20 years in 2 years...I did see him on the TV about a month before he died.. He no longer stood but he joined the family in one last song....and the smile never left his face....They say he died with a smile on his face.
May we all go out smiling...I wish you peace...


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