Sunday, June 30, 2019

Linda Goodman's New Normal

A few months back I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, and it is taking its toll. It has affected my memory, my speaking, my eye sight, my balance, and my movement. I have good doctors, and we are working hard on improving my health. I am cancelling all my storytelling engagements for the time being.

I will continue to  post on my blog:
I am not sure how often.I will post. My stiff fingers make for SLOW typing.
I am in good company. Neal Diamond, MIchael J. Fox, and Linda Ronstadt also have this disease.…

"You don't die FROM Parkenson's; you die WITH it." Linda Ronstadt

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Two Ordinary Days

Two Ordinary Days
©March, 2019 Linda Goodman
     Recently I was standing in front of the local Mall, when I noticed an attractive young woman walk out of the anchor store and head to her car, which was situated in the back part of the parking lot. As she walked to the car, I noticed a white truck driving slowly towards her. The driver pulled up beside her and uttered something that I was unable to hear. Suddenly the woman started screaming, "I know you! I can see your face! You are not supposed to be here!"
     Suddenly I realized what was happening. The man was trying to get the woman into his truck against her will. I ran quickly toward the truck, yelling "Free ice cream cones! Come and get 'um! Free ice cream!" Others who were in the parking lot turned their eyes toward us. It was a hot day. The truck burned some rubber as it sped away.
     A couple of teens walked up to me and requested their free ice cream. I explained that there was no ice cream; that it was just a ruse to get folks headed in my direction so they could scare off the fleeing man who couldn’t take no for an answer.
     The following day as I was leaving my doctor's office, a young woman walked over to me. Her skin-hugging clothes were way too tight, and her teeth had not been brushed in a while. She seemed harmless, though, as she exclaimed over my purse and how something so pretty could be so useful as well.
     Then she said, “My niece has allergies and the doctor won't give me her medicine because I don't have the $10 co-pay."
     "I'm sorry," I said."I wish I could give the money to you, but I don't carry cash on me when I go out." (I really would have given the money to her if I had had the money on me.)
     The glass elevator stopped in front of us. We both got on it. As the glass door closed she looked at me with a now sinister look in her eyes. "Do you feel safe with me in this elevator?" she asked.
     "Sure," I said. "Why shouldn't I?" My radar was warning me to stay cool. I was about as far from cool as you can get.
     "Do you really feel safe with just the two of us in this elevator?"
     "It's a glass elevator," I reminded her. "People can see us." The short elevator ride came to a halt. She stepped off the elevator, and then looked back at me. "You're okay," she said "But I think you really were afraid of me. And with good reason, if you really want to know.”
     I giggled nervously as I watched her walk away and get into an old black pick-up truck. She waved as she pulled out of the parking lot.
     Thank God for glass elevators.
     Just two ordinary days.

Friday, February 1, 2019


FYI: I will not be posting a blog for the month of January 2019.


Linda Goodman

Friday, December 21, 2018

Christmas Memories

By Linda Goodman, Storyteller

These memories are nuggets waiting to become full blown family Christmas stories.

Christmas Memories 1979, Portsmouth, VA. Seven year old Melanie and I celebrated Christmas for the first time since her birth. I remember how excited she was to show her friends our first Christmas tree. Bought at People’s Drug store, it stood 24 inches tall and came in a box with ornaments and lights. I placed it in the center of an end table. Her friends were speechless. They could not understand why Melanie was so happy to have such a small tree.

Christmas Memories  1982  Melanie’s first new bicycle! Phil and I were engaged at the time, and he thought Melanie should have a bike that wasn’t rusted. Melanie opened all her presents, and she was happy with all of them. She didn’t think there were any more to open. Phil sent her into the kitchen to get him a glass of water. She came back with the water and asked, “Whose bicycle is that?” You should have seen the look on her face, an amazing mixture of delight and surprise, when Phil told her, “It’s yours.”

Christmas Memories  Every year I waited to hear my bother Allen’s Super Baby stories on Christmas Eve. Super Baby could do anything! He saved Christmas every year as he battled the likes of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch. My mother made us go to bed at 6:00 pm on Christmas Eve. Of course, we couldn’t sleep that early; but we weren’t bored. Allen’s stories kept us entertained.

Christmas Memories  1969 - My brother Lee's first Christmas after coming home from Viet Nam. I remember all the horror etched upon his face; but we were happy because he was home and safe. We were certain he would bounce back quickly, surrounded by the people who loved him. We had no idea how long that war would be fought in his head. We had no clue what horrors he had witnessed. We were just relieved to have him with us.

Christmas Memories 1983  Christmas in Bay City, Michigan brought about 3 firsts: our first Christmas as a family (Phil and I had gotten married in May); our first trip to actually chop down a live tree at a local Christmas tree farm (which served hot apple cider and popcorn balls to everyone looking for a tree); and our first white Christmas. We also visited the little town of Frankenmuth, which was a cozy winter wonderland at Christmas time.  It took my breath away. I have never had such a perfect Christmas.

Christmas Memories  1958-1970 Christmas Eve services at Asbury United Methodist Church on Deep Creek Boulevard in Portsmouth, Virginia. At the age of 6, I started out as an angel in the chorus or our Christmas pageant and worked myself up to narrator by age 10. At 12 years of age, I was invited to join the junior choir, which participated in the Christmas Eve Service every year. Whenever I was at that church, I felt like I had dozens of parents and hundreds of brothers and sisters. The people not only talked about the love of Christ, they lived it. Asbury was closed in 2014, and I was able to attend its last service. That church and its members will always live in my heart.

Christmas Memories 1970s Visiting Coleman's Nursery's Winter Wonder Land in Portsmouth, VA. The long lines of people began this yearly ritual on the day after Thanksgiving and did not let up until after Christmas. It was Santa's workshop brought to life, with a special place of honor for the Nativity. Melanie and I would spend hours there, studying each of the many scenes. Sadly, a fire destroyed this much loved Christmas landmark. Later, the parts that could be salvaged were put on display in downtown Portsmouth, but it was not the same. Now all that's left are the memories.

Christmas Memories 1998-2012 Christmas dinner with my niece Sandi Lowery's family, my sister Evelyn Wright, and my niece Rachel Davis. They dined with us every Thanksgiving & Christmas while we lived in Richmond. Sometimes my daughter, Melanie Goodman Deal, and her family were able to join us. Today I am missing them all. I can't even look at the green beans (Phil's special recipe) without choking up.

Christmas Memories  1999 Richmond, VA  Due to religious convictions, I raised my daughter, Melanie, to believe that there was no Santa.  She resented that. In fact, when she grew up and had a child of her own, I walked into her hospital room, my arms reaching for my new granddaughter, Morgan, and Melanie clutched her baby close, growling, “This child will believe in Santa Clause!” What could I do but play along?  And I must admit that when I awakened on the Christmas day that Morgan was three years old, the first year she was aware of all the hoopla, I was thrilled to hear her sit up in bed and loudly call out, “Did he come?” Then I watched in awe as she walked downstairs and entered the wonderland of toys that her pawpaw and her daddy had assembled for her.  She went from one to the other, hugging her new doll, playing her new keyboard, unpacking her tea set….. Finally laughing in delight as she spotted the empty plate and glass that had held cookies and milk for Santa. She was speechless when she found the letter that Santa had left for her. She was smiling and crying at the same time as her mother read the letter to her. I must admit that I shed a few tears of my own as I watched her big blue eyes widen with wonder.

Christmas Memories  1962 Opening presents around the tree with my family. I rarely ever got what I wanted, but I still felt blessed. My two best friends had been abandoned by their fathers. Their mothers had to go on welfare until they found jobs (that paid much less than was needed to support their families). I, on the other hand, had two parents who loved their kids and each other. I also had been taken in, along with several other children in my neighborhood, by a church that treated kids who attended church by themselves like family. Without the examples set and the love offered by my family and my church, who knows how my life would have progressed. God made sure that I ended up in the right place. There are no coincidences.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

A Different Kind of Guest

By Linda Goodman
(From Luke 7:36-50)

Good morning. My name is Rachel and I am the daughter of Simon the Pharisee. My father is a well respected man, who often invites other important men to be guests at our table. Last night, however, was different.
            The word Pharisee means separate. The name serves us well, as Pharisees to not like to keep company with people who are not Jewish, or Jews who do not follow the same practices that we do. That is why I was surprised when my father announced that Jesus would be a guest in our home.
Jesus of Nazareth... .have you heard of him? He is a vagabond who keeps company with the rabble; the peasants, tax collectors and women of ill repute. Our guests are usually great men who wear the finest clothes and have servants to attend their every need.
When Jesus entered our home he was dressed in the garb of a simple peasant. I expected that, but he was not even clean! He was covered with dust from his head to his filthy feet! He looked as though he had walked miles through the wilderness without bathing for days.
My father was so disgusted that he refused to offer Jesus the simple courtesies that were normally afforded our honored guests. He did not have Jesus’ feet washed, as was the custom. Neither did he give him the expected kiss of welcome that would have been followed by the anointing of Jesus head with olive oil. My father merely said, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, who has gained quite a reputation of late. Let us sit down at the table.”
The servants were just beginning to bring us our meal, when a strange woman walked through the front door. Many of the lower class pass our home when we have important, or, in this case, infamous, guests. None, however, would dare to enter our home without an invitation.
My mother gasped when she saw the woman, and when I looked at the woman’s face I understood why. This woman was the town harlot! Whenever I saw this woman walking down the road, I would cross to the other side and look away. One must not keep company with, or even acknowledge, such a vile being!
  No doubt she did very well plying her chosen trade, for she wore scarlet robes made of the finest silk, and her sandals were studded with pearls and rubies. In her arms she carried an exquisite alabaster jar that was filled with sweet perfume. She must have paid a fortune for it!
She took no note of my family. She ran straight to Jesus, where she knelt at his feet and began sobbing. She cried so hard that her tears, like rain, washed over Jesus feet, turning the dirt to mud. Horrified, she undid her long hair, all the while begging, “Please forgive me, Lord. Please forgive.”  She wiped Jesus’ feet clean with her own hair!  Then she kissed his feet and poured the perfume from the jar on to them, gently massaging it into his skin. And Jesus let her do these things!
My horrified father muttered under his breath, “And I thought this man might be a prophet! He does not even know what this woman is!”
Jesus must have excellent hearing, for he heard every word that my father said.
“Simon, I wish to tell you a story,” Jesus announced.
“I know a banker,” Jesus continued, “who was owed money by two men. One owed him fifty silver coins. The other owed him 500 silver coins. Neither could pay his debt, and the banker decided to forgive the debts of both men. Which of these men, Simon, do you think was more grateful to the banker?”
“I do not see what that has to do with anything,” my father retorted, “but I would judge that the man who owed the banker 500 coins would have been the more grateful of the two.”
“You are correct,” Jesus told him. “Those who have been forgiven more are more grateful than those who have been forgiven little.”
Jesus turned back to the woman and placed his hand on her head as he continued speaking to my father. "Simon, I am a guest in your home, yet you did not wash my feet. You did not welcome me with a kiss or anoint my head with olive oil. This woman, on the other hand, has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. She has  kissed my feet and anointed them with sweet perfume.”
I could see my father’s face turning red with rage as Jesus told him, “This woman has sinned much, and she will be forgiven much. She will be more grateful for that forgiveness than any Pharisee would be.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Go, woman. Your sins are forgiven.”
After Jesus left our home, my father and the others laughed. “What makes him think that he has the power to forgive a woman like that?” they roared. “He must think he is God!”
I did not join in the laughter. I did not laugh because I had seen that woman’s face as she left our home. I saw serenity there, and a peace that I cannot begin to understand in one so damaged.
I want that peace.  Tomorrow I will go find this man Jesus. You are welcome to come with me if you like.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Straddling the Fence

Straddling the Fence

By Linda Goodman
©Linda Goodman 2012

            Recently an old friend sent me an article on building confidence through storytelling. As I read it, my mind rewound to my childhood, when my own crisis of confidence was reaching a boiling point.
            In 1958, my daddy accepted a job at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and moved our family from the ultra-rural Appalachian Mountains of Wise County, Virginia to Williams Court, an urban slum in Portsmouth, Virginia.  Many of the Mountaineers who had migrated to the Tidewater area of Virginia settled in Williams Court, so we were among our own kind, for the most part.
            I thought that Williams Court was grand! The apartments had running water, which meant that outhouses and long walks to springs (to fill water buckets) were no longer necessary. Because we were no longer living in isolation, I had lots of other kids to play with. I learned to excel at kickball and hopscotch. I decided that city living was paradise.
            School, however, changed that idyllic metaphor. I heard other kids in my class talk about how they were not allowed to go to Williams Court. When I asked why, they said that Williams Court was always in the newspaper, in the crime section. Their parents had read them articles on murders, robberies, and “nasty stuff” that went on there. Parents followed the article readings with a stern warning: “Unless you want to end up dead or worse, stay away from Williams Court!” They made Williams Court sound like Dodge City, from the television show Gunsmoke, where you were just as likely to get shot as to get your supper.
            I decided to keep where I lived a secret. When my classmates asked where I lived, I either evaded the question or lied about living out in the country, where my rich daddy had a butler who drove me back and forth to school every day. I pretended not to know the kids who were my neighbors.
            Like most secrets, mine was eventually exposed. During my third grade year, when a triple homicide in my apartment building made the front page of the Virginia Pilot, the article was accompanied by a photo of my apartment building with what was clearly my face, eyes staring out into the explosion of light that shattered the dark night, pressed against a front window.
            I was screwed. The friends that I had made in school had no use for me now, except to ask morbid questions to get details of that awful night from me. For about a week, I was a celebrity. After that week, I was a pariah. I felt like one of the lepers I had studied in Sunday School.
            My life at home was not much better. The friends who had once good naturedly challenged me to a game of hopscotch resented the way I had “put on airs” as I wooed “stuck-up” kids in school to be my social brethren.  I was a pariah to them as well.
            My brothers thought I had gotten what was coming to me. My sister felt sorry for me. My momma said, “This, too, shall pass.” Daddy told me this experience would make me stronger and smarter.
            I did not feel stronger or smarter. I was straddling the fence between two worlds, neither of which wanted me as a citizen. The only time I felt like I belonged anywhere was when my third teacher discovered that I had a knack for storytelling and began to ask me to tell stories to the class during those rare times that she ran out of work for us. I told stories that I had heard my daddy tell, as well as fairy tales and myths that I had read. I always made the kids laugh, and for the rest of the day I would feel like I had added something special to our dreary classroom. I was careful, however, to keep my secrets close.
            Years later, when I was chosen Valedictorian of my high school class, I had the opportunity to speak about serious matters during the graduation ceremony. Instead of a speech, I shared a story that began with that awful shooting that took place during my third grade year. As painful as my school years were, I concluded, I had grown stronger and smarter because of that pain, just as my father had predicted so many years earlier.
            After my story had ended, my teachers and my classmates, both inside and outside my neighborhood, surrounded me. Some shook my hand; some held me tight; most just shouted hurrah!
            Through storytelling, I had shared my shame and had been applauded for it. I sat on the fence no longer. I was whole.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Eyes of God

©Linda Goodman September 29, 2018
Matthew 25:40 (NIV)
Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me.”

            I could not help but notice her when she came into the room. She was a thin older woman whose hair had been bleached blonde. What made me notice her, though, was her eye makeup. Her dark black eye liner had been applied heavily all the way around both her eyes. She looked like a raccoon. Her husband was with her, and they walked to the back of the room and took seats there.
            Ever since my husband and I had moved to Richmond, Virginia in September, 1998, I had wanted to teach my Storytelling In the Ministry workshop at the Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center (VUMAC) in Blackstone, Virginia. In 2000 I sent in a proposal to the powers that be, and my workshop was selected to be one of the classes available to students attending the February, 2000 Lay Speakers School. I was informed that at least six students must sign up for the class in order for it to be a part of the weekend. I asked that class membership be capped at twenty students. This was the number that would ensure that each student would be allowed enough time for some deep storytelling work during the three day workshop.
            The twenty seats in my class filled up quickly. Those whose did not get into the workshop were put on a waiting list, in case someone had to drop out. I was on cloud nine! My bucket list was one bucket shorter.
            My class covered three types of stories: Bible stories; traditional stories with Biblical themes; and personal (testimony) stories. I had made my reputation as a skilled storyteller by writing and telling personal stories around the country. My stories were carefully crafted, and I told them straight from my heart. This was why so many had signed up for the workshop. Everybody had a personal story to tell, and I heard incredible stories that weekend; stories of miracles; stories of heartbreak; stories of joy.
            The last person to share a story that weekend was the woman with the raccoon eyes. As she stood up in front of the class, I again wondered why she had applied her makeup in such a gaudy way. I just knew it was going to take away the power of her story. The others students would most likely be so distracted by her eye make-up that they would not be paying the needed amount of attention to the story.
            The woman introduced herself to the class in a shy manner. She also introduced her husband and publicly thanked him for being her driver for the weekend. She had not driven since she had retired several years earlier from her job as an ER nurse. The story she planned to tell had occurred while she was still a nurse.

Her story began:

            “I was just beginning my shift, when three people were rushed into the ER,” she explained. “On the way to visiting their family, there was an accident. A thunderstorm had erupted suddenly and caused the man, who was driving, to run into a tree. Upon reaching the ER the man who had been driving and the woman beside him (his wife) were pronounced dead. Their six month old baby was still living, but the doctors examining him were convinced that the baby would not live long.”

            How horrible! I said to myself.  I leaned forward so that I could see her better. Her facial expressions and graceful movement drew me deeper into her story.

            The woman continued:

            “One of the interns did some quick research and was able to discover the names of the family members. Further research resulted in the names and phone number of the baby’s grandparents. The doctor went into his office to call them. When he came back into the ER he told us that the grandparents were several hours away and could not possibly get to the hospital before the baby died. I asked him what I could do.
            “The doctor looked at me and, with a grim smile, told me that the grandparents had made just one request. They wanted their grandchild to leave this world wrapped in love. They wanted someone to hold the baby until it passed. ‘Nurse, do you think you can do that?’ the doctor asked.
            “I tried to explain to the doctor that if I held that child as he asked, I would be haunted by nightmares for years to come. I could not do as he had asked me because I was scared. Already I was feeling shivers creeping up and down my spine.
            “The doctor said he understood, but would like me to give it some more thought. After all, the grandparents had asked for just that one thing.
            “I did think about it. I felt guilty. I felt helpless. But in the end, I agreed to hold the baby, as its grandparents had requested.
            “I sat down in a rocking chair in a dimly lit room. The baby was brought to me and laid on my lap.  I snuggled it gently in my arms. I ran my right hand through its soft, white hair. I waited,
            “I held the child in my arms for what seemed like hours; but in fact, only a half hour had passed when I felt the baby shiver. I looked down into the child’s face. ITS STEEL BLUE EYES WERE OPEN! THEY WERE LOOKING INTO MY EYES! They seemed so deep; so calm; so holy as the child’s spirit left its body.  I felt like I was looking into the eyes of God.”

            At this point, the story was over. The woman raised her head from the invisible baby she had been tending and looked out into the audience with her steel blue eyes. That raccoon makeup made them look iridescent. They were so deep; so calm; so holy. I felt like I was looking into the eyes of