If you pass by 1585 Johnson St. in Orangeburg and hear someone talking loudly, it may just be a woman thanking God for her longevity and a loving family who stands ready to meet her every need.
Thelma Goodley, who marked her 100th birthday on Aug. 23, enjoys looking out of her window and talking to the person who has allowed her to see another day filled with relatively good health and many other blessings, including a host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren and great-great-great-grandchildren.
"I sit here many days looking out. I got two windows I can look out of. I talk to the Lord, and sometimes I get kind of loud. I say, 'Hey, let me kind of stop a little bit here,' because people will pass through here and say, 'The lady in the house crazy; go get her out,'" Goodley said.
"Sometimes you get kind of carried away, but I am glad I'm here. The Lord watch over me night and day. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is throw my curtains back, look out and say, 'Lord, thank you!" she said.
The no-nonsense but charming Goodley sits up in her wheelchair with neatly arranged hair and painted nails. She thanks her family and others for taking such good care of her, including her special caretaker, Rosalyn Haigler.
Goodley said she realizes it's a blessing to be catered to by her family, who satisfy her good appetite with just about everything, including her favorite dish of fried chicken.
"Oh, yeah! That's my favorite. Anybody who comes here and asks what I want, I say, "Go to the store and get me some chicken wings.' They know what I like and usually get what I want," she said, smiling.
She lets you know she's not a fan of cantaloupe, okra, red apples, broccoli or squash.
"I'm glad to be here because God is over all of us. I do know that. And when I talk, I try to talk the right thing and do the right thing. I ask God to give me understanding of what to do and how to do it with everybody -- not only my family," Goodley said.
Her family held a pre-birthday celebration for her at her church, Jerusalem Baptist Church, on Sunday, Aug. 20, but Goodley said she's not all about frills and frou-frou.
"That don't bother me. ... I don't need all that. God has gotten it all straightened out with me and helps me, so that's it," Goodley said.
She said she's happy to only have an occasional ache or pain and to be of relatively sound mind.
"I don't know about all of my senses, but I got some of it. I know I got some of it because I can remember good. I don't tell nobody I got all my senses because there's still plenty I forget, but I I thank God for what I got," she said, laughing.
Goodley added, "I feel good and nice to have the help I got and enjoy it. I got a lot to be thankful for. I'm glad I'm here, but I won't be here always. When my time come, I've talked to the Lord about it, and I ain't worried about it.
"I'm still praying, asking him for health and strength and to guide my mind. That's just the way it is. I don't worry about nothing."
She recalled going at age 15 to New York, where she worked as a house cleaner in Brighton Beach, an ocean-side neighborhood in the southern portion of the New York City borough of Brooklyn.
"I remember growing up. I grew up by myself; I mean no sisters or brothers or nothing were with me. ... My aunt sent for me to come to New York. She got a job for me," Goodley said, noting, however, that she was relieved to come back home after her stepmother, Nettie, became ill.
"I was glad to come home. So my aunt was saving the money I was making and put me on the train and sent me back. I was home a couple of months before I was grabbed up for marriage," she said.
She is the widow of the late Nathan Goodley. She has one son, Raymond Hook, and two stepsons, Matthew Goodley and Albert Goodley. She also has a host of loving grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren and great-great-great-grandchildren.
Granddaughters Ramona Hook and Coralie Hook of New York recall visiting Goodley every summer.
Ramona said, "She would take us to church every Sunday. She would give me one peppermint, and dared me to move the whole service. That's what I remember most about my grandmother. To this day, I go to church every Sunday, and I got that from her."
Ramona said she also got her feistiness from Goodley.
"For this world and everything, you have to be kind of rough and tough. That's one of the good qualities that I got from my grandmother. She made me very strong. I thank God for her each and every say. She's been a great grandmother to me," she said.
Coralie said she remembers her grandmother making them say The Lord's Prayer.
"My grandmother used to always make us kneel and say The Lord's Prayer. My grandmother is a strong woman. She literally could control us from the choir or pulpit. She would just give you a look. ... I got manners and respect from her and just making sure that you were a good citizen," she said.
"She would never just discipline you and not give you the history of why you shouldn't do something. She's definitely a strong woman and a true believer in God. I know that my grandmother prayed for me. She was always praying."
Goodley's great-granddaughter Natasha Charles said, "She's just a woman of wisdom. There's not a time you can come to her and leave without something powerful to actually empower your life. She makes a very good impact not just on my life, but my children's lives.
"I just thank God for her being this long on this earth."
Goodley's grandsons Ronald Brown and Raymond Grant share the same thoughts about their grandmother.
"She's my anchor. She's kept me anchored," Ronald said.
Raymond added, "I'm just blessed that she's still alive."
Mary Brown, Goodley's granddaughter-in-law, said Goodley is also special to her.
"It's truly a blessing to be of that age and her mind be so sharp. My mother is 94 and actually doesn't remember half of the things that Ms. Goodley remembers. ... She can dial the phone and can get in contact with you if she needs to," Mary said.
"She actually has my home number, cell number and work number. She has an excellent appetite and is always talking about the Lord and the goodness of the Lord," she added.
Goodley doesn't watch much TV and prefers looking out of her window and talking to the Lord and thanking him for providing her with so much support.
She said, "You just got to love your family. They love you and you love them. That's all to say there. You just love one another, and I got a loving family."