It had been four months since Granny had passed. Not a day had gone by that I hadn’t thought of her.
“I miss the old gal,” I admitted to Mama one day.
“I do, too,” she replied softly.
I didn’t wallow in my sadness. Granny wasn’t one for wallowing. She would sometimes have herself one good cry and then she was done. None of this sitting around, whining and telling everyone about what had her all “upsot” as she called it.
“You know what I miss the most?” Mama said one day.
“Her telling you what to do?” I asked.
“You should. I don’t know how you and Bobby are managing.”
My mother and uncle were now geriatric orphans. Granny loved to threaten them with her plans of one day finding her own place and leaving them to their own devices.
“And prove what?” I had asked her mid-rant. “To prove to them at 60 something years of age they can live on their own? Woo hoo – they will throw raves with prune juice Jell-O shots with Milk of Magnesia chasers. And everyone will have to head home by dark since they’re scared to drive at night.”
Granny did not appreciate my logic and told me I was a hateful old gal.
Mama interrupted my inner reverie.
“No, I miss the way she did things. She was far smarter than I ever gave her credit for. But she knew how to do things.”
True, she did.
Granny was smart for someone who had maybe a ninth-grade education. She liked to remind us, especially me, that she had common sense.
“You got book smarts,” she would say. “That’s fine if you taking a test, but ain’t so good otherwise.”
I had asked her what was the dreaded otherwise. Granny said book smarts was just downright useless in a lot of situations – battling a possum in a chicken house, dealing with possible intruders, knowing how to properly clean a meat grinder. Things she didn’t think I would ever figure out how to do and she didn’t know what in the world would come of me.
“What is happening that Granny would know how to do?” I asked Mama. “Do you need me to take care of anything?”
Mama sighed a sigh that reverberated volumes. At just weeks shy of 70, how do you say you just need your mama to take care of things?
“No, I don’t. I just miss … Granny knew how to deal with certain people and I feel bad if I do it like Granny would.”
“Like what, Mama?”
Mama was quiet for a few moments before she began.
“OK, you know I don’t judge anyone based on anything, right?”
“Right.” Mama was so liberal sometimes she could make a Kennedy look conservative.
“My problem is not based on their religion. My problem is I don’t like strangers coming to the house.”
Ah. She didn’t have to say anymore.
Bless her heart. I could see Mama having an inner conflict on this – she was torn between being plumb southern hospitable on one hand and not wanting someone to come up unannounced, unexpected and completely unknown to her front door.
This is a woman that tries to uphold some degree of proprietary, so to be rude to someone at your door was a horrible disgrace.
“Mama, you don’t have to answer the door, you know.”
“Yes, I do,” she said, appalled at what she would deem disrespectful.
“No, you don’t. If you don’t know them, you don’t.”
Mama still thought this was rude.
It had been a while since I had to deal with people just arbitrarily showing up at my door. The main bonus of living in the boonies. But I remembered well how disruptive it was when we lived in town and had people randomly showing up. I had just gotten Cole settled for a nap when he was teething once, only to be woken less than an hour later by a politician campaigning. I think the expression on my face when I opened the door with a screaming baby in the background gave him a clue he wouldn’t get my vote.
I suggested putting up a “No trespassing” sign but Mama worried someone may not come down the driveway if they had to call 911. And she thought that was tacky.
“You could always do what Granny would do,” I began.
“Granny would either tell them she would listen if they would listen to her tell them about Jesus.” Granny actually did that once. Totally backfired on the old gal; she ended up with a new friend and sewing buddy.
I would hear her telling the lady, “Now, we will just a-stick to sewing and leave our beliefs out of the conversation and we will be fine. Besides, I’m right and we both know it, so no need to get into an uproar over it.”
‘”If you think putting a no trespassing sign up is rude, you will think the second one is definitely rude.”
“What?” Mama insisted.
“Start going to the door with her shotgun in your hands. You don’t have to even cock it, just have it in your hands. They’ll leave and not come back.”
Mama didn’t respond.
She didn’t have to. That was the simplest, easiest answer. And it’s exactly what Granny would have done.