I’ve written about my Mammaw before.
She’s in her eighties. She’s an excellent cook, though I’ve stolen all her recipes and do most of the cooking over my way these days. She likes that little punk, whoever he is. And, sometimes, she calls me to tell me that she’s been to the nail shop to get a pedicure. I know you’re not going to believe this, but, apparently, they cut and polish her toenails and everything right there in the store!
I know, right? Unbelievable!
She has a number of granddaughters. She calls us her “Flowers.” No grandsons. She has grandsons-in-law. She calls them “The Weeds.” She’s wise like that.
I’m her favorite, of course. She tells me everytime I see her. Sometimes she has to tell me really quietly, lest my sister or cousins overhear and become jealous. They’re so shallow like that.
When I was a kid (and even now), I thought my Mammaw was one of the wisest people I’d ever met. She’s a student of life, and isn’t shy about sharing her lessons with a body. Below is a sample of Mammawisms we like to quote at our house. Some of them are wise. Some of them are just funny. She’s an accidental comedian.
1. “Love is blind,” Mammaw says. This when we’re out and we say, “Mammaw, how can that woman be married to that man?” She smiles her calm smile, and says, “Love is blind.” She usually follows it with a, “There’s somebody for everybody” backer.
When I was a kid, I didn’t really know what that meant. Now? I get it.
2. “Krispy Critters,” saith Mammaw. Mammaw LOVES Taco Bell. Pappaw, up until recently, refused to eat there. What that means, in layman’s terms, is that, when we take her shopping, we always eat at Taco Bell. Pappaw can make himself a sandwich at home. Where we left him. Because he’s not fun to shop with. Unless you’re in the hardware store. Uh, no.
When I was a kid, Taco Bell introduced their Cinnamon Twists, but I think they called them Cinnamon Crisps, or something like that. So, I’m about 13, awkward as all get-out, embarrassed by everything, and my Mammaw, the wise sage, yells across the Taco Bell, “Y’all want to get a package of those Krispy Critters?”
I could have crawled under the counter and died right there.
3. “There are things worse than death,” quoth she. This one came in a one-on-one conversation just when I was sure my life was falling apart. It was her way of acknowledging my pain. Then, she shared with me a similar story from her own life. And, though she didn’t say it specifically, I knew I wasn’t alone.
4. “Dancin’ with the Bears.” When the movie, Dances with Wolves, came out, we were all so excited. You see, my dad’s part Native American, and we wanted to go see our peeps on the big screen. So, she calls. “When do y’all want to go see Dancin’ with the Bears?” That’s still what we call it to this day.
5. “Bed, Bath, and More.” It’s a store. You may recognize it by a slightly different name, it’s actual name. Actual names have never been high on Mammaw’s list or priorities. She calls my dad, “Meathead,” and, regularly asks one of us to, “go get that thang.” We attempt think like her, figuring out what the “thang” is. Eventually, one of us retrieves it and brings it to her. Anywho, sometimes she wants to go down to the Bed, Bath, and More to get some new sheets or something.
Mammawisms are a part of our daily lives. If you ever get an opportunity to talk to Mammaw, and I hope you do, you’ll need to call me, so I can go with you and interpret.
And now, a Mammaw bonus:
Awhile back, we were all at her house: my cousins, their husbands, my sister and Cueball, my parents, my aunt and uncle. You know? Everybody. We had almost all been riding motorcycles for most of the day and were heading out to ride again, this time to get something to eat. Mammaw and Pappaw and the children were going to meet us at the restaurant. All of the cousins, Cueball, my uncle, and my dad had motorcycles. Except one. The oldest of us cousins (not me!) is married to a man who, at the time, was the only non-motorcycle rider. We’ll call him Carl. He’s tall. A soldier in the U.S. Army. Done tours in Afghanistan. Pretty powerful guy, right?
Undaunted by his lack of motorcycle-ness, Carl walked out with the rest of us to where the bikes were parked. As men are wont to do, they all took a few minutes to circle the bikes again, checking out the shiny-ness level of their chrome and generally grunting out messages to each other. The women allowed this to continue for a bit, but we all knew that the matriarch of us all was going to call it to a stop when her hunger and need for a SuperSize Diet Coke got the best of her.
Sure enough, after a few minutes, Mammaw steps out onto the front porch with both Pappaw and Carl’s wife, my cousin, in tow and addresses Carl and, in the process, the crowd, in general: “Carl, honey,” she says, “You don’t have a motorcycle. Come back in the house. You can ride in the minivan with Pappaw and the kids and me.” Carl, knowing he’d been bested by an eighty-year-old woman and his own wife, who’d probably put Mammaw up to it, hung his buzz-cut head and walked into the house like a whipped pup.
The other men’s eyes squinted, and their mustaches twitched with mirth. They were all thankful it wasn’t them. This time.