This Is Good(e): An Oral History

My parents sailing on Lake Union, Seattle, WA, circa 1992.

For the basis of my Oral History, I wanted to interview my mom, dad, and paternal grandmother, asking each similar questions based on the past that I knew about them. For my parents, I wanted to investigate deeper why they chose to move our family around so much. For my grandmother, I sought out why she chose to stay in one place (and even one home) for years and years in Kentucky. For both, I wanted to ask about what they thought the meaning of a good decision and a good life is.

My lovely mother, on the lake in Gainesville, GA

Interview with Heather Goode (mother)

So I know you know a little bit about what this project is. So basically I’m doing the thing where I take my last name, our last name, and look back at the choices that our family has made, because I know we’ve moved around a lot, and [you and dad] have moved around a lot, even before you had me and Anna, and just kind of look behind that and then also look at Mimi, with the motives why she stayed where she is.

Okay, so I’m asking everybody similar sets of questions but kind of tailored to each person. So the first few questions I’m asking all of y’all.

How would you define what is good, and kind of context for that is, do you think a good decision is based off of whether it helps you, or whether it helps other people?

Well, I guess when I define good, I immediately go to God, because he’s good, and so whatever God says is good, I think is good. And sometimes two things that you’re deciding between can both be good. I think generally putting another person above yourself is probably the better way to make a decision, that that will always be good, um, even if the outcome may not feel good. It just has more integrity.

What does living a good life mean to you? Like what would you consider a life well-lived?

Again I just think of doing what God wants you to do. I don’t think there’s anybody that lives a life free of regrets, like when they get to the end, but if they can take their mistakes and learn from them and grow and change then I think that’s a life well lived. I also think that relationships are super important and the people that you collect the long way are the things that matter, and not the success that’s defined by the world, the monetary success or fame.

So now I’m going a little bit more into the decisions that y’all made. So, both you and Dad went to college in Texas. Why? Was there a specific reason you chose to go far away? Was just because you liked the school? Kind of walk me through what caused that.

I went to high school at a very small girls school. And I did not want to go to any of the schools that the girls i graduated with went to, because I kind of wanted to redefine myself, because, um, my pool of friends was so small, and I just wanted something different. So, in the 80’s, the show Dallas was really popular on TV, and I liked that glamorous culture and the shiny buildings, and I thought it would be a cool town to go to, so I actually looked for a school in Dallas; rather than looking at a school first, I looked at the town first, and, um, that’s where my 17-year-old mind went in making my decision. It also had the major I was interested in.

So after you and Dad met, what like motivated your move to Seattle?

We had spent almost a decade in Dallas, and while Dallas was good to us, and we were successful, we were tired of the heat, and kind of the materialism, and just that it was so flat, and so I think the mountains and trees and the water, because Dad really loves boats, drew us to look at Seattle, because we like to ski and hike and all those things, so we looked at living there. So we looked again at the city first, and then he found a job there.

So you all lived there until you had Anna, and then what motivated the move back to Virginia?

So it’s really hard to have little kids and not have that built in support system of grandparents and siblings, and everybody just felt really far away, and we didn’t have… um, and you know, any babysitter we had we had to pay, and we realized that we wanted [Anna] to know her family instead of just always having to get on a plane to go visit them, and she wouldn’t get to see them very often. So we looked to get within driving distance of both our families.

So after living in Virginia for a while, the move to Georgia was mostly based on dad’s work, right?

Mhm. Again, that was less about work and more about God’s call. As [Jerry] sort of spent more time with God, he just felt him speaking to him, telling him to go into full-time work with [Adventures in Missions], specifically to come alongside Seth (editor’s note: seth is the director of Adventures in Missions, or AIM for short) and help Adventures in Missions.

Were there any opportunities that you turned down because of family, or other reasons? Either opportunities to move, or opportunities for work, or anything like that?

One was dad was in California one time at a business meeting, no, Detroit, and he was considering, at this meeting he was considering our moving to California, this before we had kids, with NEXT Computer. And while he was in Detroit, all the people that lived in California were getting phone calls from their family because ,they’re just been a big earthquake in California, and they were letting them know that they were okay. And I was watching it on TV back in Dallas, and after that we were like, “no, we aren’t going to live in California. We don’t like earthquakes.” So, we didn’t do that.

Other opportunities we turned down, I’m trying to think of others… that’s the one that comes to mind.

Okay. So looking back, do you think the eventual journey down to Georgia, like through all these different places, was the best decision for our family as a whole? Do you think that you regret any of the moves or anything like that, or do you think all of it kind of came together to work out for the best?

I think it came together to work out for the best. However, our move to Georgia was the hardest move, because we were uprooting you and Anna from things that you knew. Anna was ready to come, because she was in middle school and middle school is hard no matter where you are. You were perfectly happy, and it was really hard on you. And because it was hard on you, it was hard on us. But I think that all in all it was good, it was the right thing to do. Being obedient is always right thing to do. And, um, and I think that you all have made a way for yourselves quite well.

I guess this kind of goes hand-in-hand with that. How do you think the decisions have affected our family today? How do you think it would have been different if you had stayed in Seattle, or you had stayed in Virginia?

Well I think that, always, people are a product of their culture; to a certain degree, it depends on how much you let that happen. But if we had lived in Seattle, I think that we would have either been percieved as freaks, or that, uh, that we would have allowed it to change us, so I think you and Anna would have grown up in a different school system and a different set of… I don’t know.

And then we moved from there to Charlottesville, which was super affluent, and like your place in society was kind of important, and there was a pecking order in your private school that may have been harder to grow up under in high school, and so I feel like we got out of that sort of society-type driven place and moved to a little bit more down-to-earth, and much more diverse place, which I think is good.

Do you ever, or have you ever regretted any of the choices?

The moving choices?

Yeah.

No. Can I speak for dad, or no?

Yep.

I feel like dad regretted, I remember one, when we were leaving our house in Charlottesville and it was empty, and we were getting ready to move down here, he was afraid he had done the wrong thing. And he was very emotional about uprooting y’all and taking you. And I think he regretted it then, but I don’t think he regrets it now.

Dear old Dad with the family dog, Charlie

Interview with Jerry Goode (father)

Okay so I know I told you a little bit about the project, but I’m just kind of talking about our last name and how it relates to the decisions that we’ve made in our family and stuff like that.

So first off, how would you define what is good? And kind of going along with that, do you think a good decision is made based off of whether it helps you or whether helps other people?

A good decision is based off of whether it helps other people. You consider the harm it may do to you, you can’t help but do that. But goodness is really reflected in how you work with other people.

So what do you consider to be a good life, or a life well-lived?

Hm. A good life would be having joy with your family, taking care of them the way, the best you can. Doesn’t mean being rich, doesn’t mean fancy… it means loving each other well taking care of one another.

So now with a little bit of y’all’s history. You you and Mom both went to college in Texas. Why did you choose to go there?

I would say it’s Divine Providence. I had, we had a family friend who lived there who had a business, and said “come down and look at a couple colleges.” So I went down. They had the same last name too! It was George and Alexandra Goode.

Wow.

And when I went down, they just took me in, and we, um, I walked on the campus at SMU and I just knew that’s where I was supposed to go, just… that was it.

That’s really cool, that was like me with UGA.

So, after you and mom lived there for a while, what kind of was your thought process behind wanting to move to Seattle? Like, why such a large change?

Dallas was a big fancy place, and it was just not our kind of town. It was, in our opinion, pretty shallow. Everybody was very much about money, and showing it, and we also referred to it as The Hot and The Ugly State. So, we were ready for a change, and Seattle was an adventure and it was beautiful and it was, yeah. So that’s that’s what made us look for a change. Dallas just, just wasn’t our “groove.”

So, when I was talking to mom, she metioned that you were thinking about a job in California, What fueled your ultimate decision to turn that down?

Earthquake. I was at a meeting at a conference with a bunch of people, and we were sitting at a big old table, and we were eating dinner, and I was literally talking to — and I’m using literally properly — talking to Paul about moving to California, and thinking, “huh, maybe we could move to the Bay Area.” And then everybody at the table, their phones started lighting up. And it was family calling saying there had been a big earthquake and it was like “um, nope, we will not be moving to California.”

That’s interesting. So, I know you were working for NEXT for a long time. Why did you choose to do something else?

Um, it was, some friends of mine from NEXT went and started, helped start another company, and, um, I actually left NEXT twice. Once in Seattle, and that was for, that was because it was a more interesting company and something new, some pretty cutting-edge technology, and then went back [to NEXT] when that company started making some decisions about doing things that I just wasn’t morally in agreement with. Some of the content and services they wanted to start I just didn’t care for, the way they were running the business. And then the next time I left NEXT, was when they were purchased by Apple, and it just was a very different company when it was purchased by Apple, because it’s a great, big old company and everything, so.

Ok, so moving from Seattle to Virginia, what was kind of the motive behind that?

Four letters: A-N-N-A. It’s actually just two letters, but multiples. So, yes. We were out on the west coast, and we, it was just a long way from family. We decided that we wanted to be closer to Babboo and Daddo and Mimi and Papaw (editor’s note: those are my grandmother and grandfather on my Mom’s side and Dad’s side, respectively).

So, after living in Virginia for a while, I know the move to Georgia was really hard… were there other reasons to move other than joining with AIM?

No. That was we were in Charlottesville, Charlottesville’s a lovely place to live, we did refer to it as living in “the bubble” because it’s very wealthy, and very Caucasian, it wasn’t, and particularly with the social group we were there with, it didn’t look a lot like most people’s real life. It wasn’t which country club you belonged to, it was how many you belonged to. And so, being able to raise you all in a little bit different culture was part of it, but if we hadn’t been praying and heard from the Lord about going to Adventures in Missions, we never would have moved to Georgia.

Would you say that each decision to move to different places was like driven by something else or was there like an underlying motive for each move? To me it kind of sounds like it was, it really just depended on the time.

There hasn’t been a grand plan, which is something that sometimes I think is fine, and sometimes I regret. But it is been one of the regrets is that we hadn’t had a place that we would say, “oh, this is home, this is where our roots are.” Whenever I left Kentucky to go to SMU, I said “I’ll probably never be back,” because I was just very different than most other young people there, and so it was never going back to the old home place or anything like that. And so it’s been driven by, somewhat by opportunity, but mostly our decisions. We decided to go to Seattle, we decided to go to Virginia, we decided to move to Gainesville.

How do you think that these decisions might have affected like how are family is today, with our family dynamic and who we are or any of that kind of stuff?

Well, it’s back to the thing of not having a place to call home. Home is where we are, and I think it’s impacted our a circle of friends, like we don’t have a large long time circle of friends, because we moved around. And that’s something I wouldn’t say is a good thing. And I would say it may have caused some insecurity for you and Anna, because it’s going to new places, getting dropped into new schools, and so, yeah.

Looking back, overall, I know, I’m sure that there are some regrets, like right after moving, because that’s always hard. But looking back, do you regret any of the moves or choices like that as a whole?

No. Nope, don’t regret leaving ny of the places, don’t regret… yeah, no.

Alice “Terry” Goode, with her late husband, Ed Goode

Interview with Terry Goode (grandmother)

So, starting off, and this is something that I asked everyone that I interviewed; how would you define what is good, and kind of going off of that, do you think a good decision is made based off of whether it’s helping you or whether it’s helping other people?

Oh wow, wow. What is a good decision? I don’t think you can separate… well, I guess you can. A good decision is one that is usually a wise one, not one that generally comes off of the top of your head. Or it may be the wisdom that you have accumulated in your life that helps you to make this good decision. And, um, you can’t live a little bit of life without having some wisdom, can you? It just comes. Now, how you use it makes a difference.

A good decision is not just something that makes you feel good.

You’re right about that. Alright, what would you define a good life as? Like what do you consider a life well lived?

These are kind of deep questions! Yeah. I really think a life well lived is one that, because I am who I am, is one that has God in every part of it, every corner of it. His goodness actually, um, allows you to experience life in a deeper way. It encourages you to do your best. A good life is one in which you feel benefit for yourself, or you have benefit for yourself, but everyone around you, or everyone you meet is touched by good, and not evil. You do your best, and goodness follows everywhere.

Ok, so now I’m going to get a little more into background and history and stuff. How do you think your surroundings where you grew up affected who you are today?

Like when I was young? Before I became a Goode?

Yes.

Well, I know one thing that directly affected that. It’s my, the fact that Ed and I went to the same denominational church growing up, him in North Little Rock and me in Memphis. And then our sisters ended up at the same church college, _____ Presbyterian College. His sister was assigned to greet my sister when she came to college. And it directly affected me because, Ed and I met and then married, and had a 57-year marriage, which was good. It was really good. So I think without that church basis, we never would have met.

Where did y’all live when you first got married?

We met and married in Miami.

And then what caused you to move to Kentucky?

We kind of hopped and skipped and jumped to various places. Charleston, South Carolina, Kingsport Tennessee….. His job situation would change. We would be there for a little while, and he would be working, and then the job situation would change and we would have to move on. And so we did the Charleston thing, we did Kingsport, Tennessee, we did, from there we did North Little Rock, and then we did Memphis, and finally, we moved to Kentucky because he got a job there. And, um, and it lasted close to 50 years.

That’s really neat, that’s so cool.

Yeah. Yeah, it really is. We knew when we got there that this is where we wanted to stay. And if the job didn’t play out, this is where we’d like to stay and raise the kids. Yeah, God provided.

So that kind of answered my next question, which was, um, why did you choose to stay there for so long? But, you just loved it?

Yeah. From the time we got out of the car late one afternoon when we drove to kentucky to see what was up there for us, um, the airport was in the country and we could hear cows mooing across the fields, and birds kind of settling in for the night, and everything was still, and it was beautiful. So we decided, if we possibly could we’d stay there, it’d be a good place to raise the kids at. Apparently, it worked out pretty well.

It worked out well, it did. That’s so great.

How do you think living [in Kentucky] affected who you are today? How do you think it would’ve been different if maybe you weren’t in Kentucky, if you had stayed somewhere like Memphis?

Hm. I don’t know what’s the biggest determining factor… I think that because we were in the country in Kentucky, it gave us a place to live where we could slow down, where we were not pushed and shoved in the city situation, and Papaw could walk to work or drive to work or whatever, and see home from where he worked and vice-versa, I could see the airport. And it made a world, it was a good secure life for a long time for both of us.

When you first moved there, did you have any reservations about being so close to where the airport was, or being in such a small town, or anything like that? Or was it just a nice change?

Just a really nice change. After being in the city or two years, we were ready to move out. We lived in the country in Kingsport, Tennessee, and absolutely loved it. So we moved to Kentucky with expectations of it being just as a wonderful life there in the country, as it was in Kingsport. And we made friends really quickly, and a little church where we went to where we could walk to church. People just took us in. Still have some of those friends, years and years and years later, so… It’s wonderful. It’s absolutely wonderful.

How do you think that having, growing up in the same childhood home, and staying in one place like that affected Dad and Alan growing up?

I think it gave them a real sense of what home should be, and they didn’t have this thing in the back of their minds of maybe having to pack up and move, and leave what they knew. And, um, the stability of that kind of life is wonderful for kids. It really is. And they were growing up in an age where so many of their friends, their parents were getting divorced, and that sort of stuff. And they could come home, and have the same parents every night, and no fear of having to move for either one of them, or the family having to move, it was good. Good for them.

How was the transition for you, coming down to Georgia? I know it must be hard after being in one place for so long, and everything that’s been going on… (editor’s note: She came down to GA for a routine knee surgery over a year ago, and due to complications, had to have a below-the-knee amputation and is now permanently living in GA.)

It’s been a wild ride. It’s been hard. There are things about Kentucky that still make me know that’s home. But all in all, God has provided beautifully since I’ve been here. Y’all are here; that makes a world of difference. I can imagine now, not having you close. Um, it’s kind of hard to put into words, how this has all changed my life. Sometimes, there are no words. I think that’s the biggest thing, is that sometimes there are no words.

Do you have any regrets for moving any place that you were, or staying anywhere you were, or any of that? Or do you think that, all in all, every move that you made was for the best?

I believe it was all for the best. I believe it was a lifelong plan. There were things that God provided everywhere, there was a reason to move everywhere we moved. And there’s a reason for me to be here, instead of over in Kentucky by myself. There’s a reason to be here. Not just the hard reasons, but there’s a reason for me to be here. You just go day by day, and ask God, “What’s the reason today?” Basically, having, being close to family is really wonderful.

Well, that’s all the questions that I have, um, but I would love to hear about the story you were talking about earlier, though, about the horse thief? That sounds really interesting!

I wish I had more information about the guy… I believe his name was William? He was in middle Kentucky, what they call the River Counties, or something like that? And somebody in Kentucky had written a history of those counties, not in a big book but in little books, homemade, kind of, typed books. And somebody had made copies for the library, and I was reading copies of those books and looking for the Goode name, and there it was, but the Goode was a horse thief!

That’s wild!

I guess if you researched it a little more, you could find out a little bit more about him and his family, and which part of the Goode family he was.

I’ll have to look that up and see if I can find anything on it.