Granny’s voice has been a familiar refrain throughout my life, and even more so now that she has passed away.
There are many days where her words of wisdom echo in my head, giving me direction into whatever situation I am facing.
Being able to call her for advice is something I sorely took for granted and it is something that I miss, oftentimes reaching for the phone with questions about what to substitute in a recipe, what to give Cole for a cough, or how to best handle a situation.
Oftentimes, her words were full of sage counsel, as she offered instruction and guidance from her decades of experience.
“Use cold water when making biscuits,” she would remind me. “Your dough will be tough if you don’t.”
“Keep all your receipts; you never know when you’ll need them.”
“Don’t open the oven door so much; you’ll make your cakes fall in the middle.”
She was full of hints and helpful tips to help me navigate all the twists and turns life threw at me.
As much as she was full of guidance, she also imparted a certain amount of sass and vinegar.
“If they gonna talk, give them something to talk about.”
“Don’t worry about what they think; you and God is a majority.”
She was the salt of the earth and sometimes, spoke the truth even if it was unpopular.
And there was no talking behind someone’s back.
No, Granny, the Helen Prime in the family preferred to speak directly to the person’s face.
“I wanna make sure there was no misunderstanding in my message,” she told a poor soul once after delivering her diatribe. “And when something is delivered by a rumor mill, the message may get watered down. I’d hate for you to not know exactly how I felt.”
I can’t even remember who the person was but remember the gasp they took at her words.
No, Granny was full-strength, non-diluted truth and righteousness in her delivery.
Her acrimonious nature skipped her children, with her daughter trying to be a paragon of gracious kindness.
Mama balanced out Granny’s bluntness with a gentler approach and response.
Both influenced me as I grew up but, for good or for bad, it was Granny I have turned out the most like.
I know what she would say so well, it is like I can hear her running commentary as if she were still alive.
“Do you remember the cartoons with the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other?” I asked Mama one day.
“Yes,” she replied.
“That’s how I feel sometimes,” I said. “Granny’s on one shoulder, you’re on the other.”
“Which one am I?” she asked.
“You really have to ask?”
She should know if anything, Granny would be the one encouraging me to go ahead and say something whether it needed to be said or not.
When a discussion takes a very heated turn, Mama’s voice is the one encouraging me to find a peaceful compromise or to maybe bow out. “Not everything deserves a response,” she would say.
Granny’s voice is always rooting for the opposite. “They are wrong and need to be corrected,” Granny would say. “If you don’t correct ‘em, you are just as wrong as they are. Set ‘em straight.”
On a recent trip home, I told Mama how Granny’s influence was still pretty solid, with her strong opinions trickling into my perspective from time to time.
“I miss her, even if she was sometimes a bit much,” Mama said. “At least you always knew where you stood with her.”
Yes, you did. It didn’t matter who you were either; she was an equal opportunity fusser outer.
When I left, Cole and I went to the mall in Athens, a place I hadn’t visited in a number of years.
“There’s the cookie place you said you and Granny used to go to,” my child commented.
“Yes, we need to get a cookie before we go,” I said.
The warm smell of cookies baking always lured Granny in, but she had, in her words, a love hate relationship with that cookie place.
Once, as the girl behind the counter approached her to take her order, she wiped her nose with the palm of her hand. “What would you like?” the girl had asked.
“For you to wash your dadblamed hands and put on some gloves before you get me my cookies," Granny replied.
Another time, Granny had some sticker shock when she was given her total.
“For that price, I could have gone to the store and bought the ingredients to make several dozen cookies,” she protested. “Maybe even made a down payment on the cow for the milk.”
“Do you not want the cookies?” the girl asked confused. No one had probably fussed about the price of cookies before.
“Yes, I want the cussed cookies; I promised my husband I was gonna get him some. But this is ridiculous what you charge for them!”
The girl blinked. “I don’t charge this personally. It is just what corporate tells us to price them at…”
Granny knew that; she was just going to complain to whoever was closest.
Getting cookies at the mall as we left was a tradition with Granny, just as getting a pretzel and lemonade was with Mama. We had already had the pretzels.
So, there we were, getting two cookie sandwiches with a thick layer of frosting as filling.
Two cookies mind you.
The girl gave me the total.
Suddenly, I could hear Granny fussing loud and clear.
“Ma’am? Did you hear me?” the girl asked.
What would Granny say? I thought to myself.
Whatever it is, for once, I decided to just keep my mouth shut.