Things Gramma Said

posted in: Family 28
L-R: Marianne and Dorothy, c. 1990. Photo: Not sure, but I’m sure glad they took the picture. (Also, Gramma looks pretty serious in this picture, but she was good at being silly, too.)


Mom and I filmed three (excellent) episodes of the PBS show today. It felt great to be back on the set as a guest. What can I say? My mother and I work really well together and I miss working with her so closely.

I also miss Gramma, my mom’s mom. The house where I’m sleeping tonight is across the street from the apartment building where my gramma, Dorothy, lived for some years before she passed away. When she died at 92, she was of sound mind and was in relative good health: A case of pneumonia took her to the hospital and she didn’t come back. I had just graduated college when she died and it was sad because I loved Gramma and I love my mom. And it was said when my sisters’ and my gramma passed but it was also sad because my mom lost her mom.

But this is a happy post!

Because I keep thinking about Gramma and all the wonderful things she used to say. Dorothy was born in Mississippi and she had a lovely, if subtle, southern accent. She kept Fun-Size Snickers bars in her pantry. She played Go Fish with us for hours. She started the paper in the small town in Iowa where she lived. She loved us. She told the same stories over and over again but a) she earned the right to for Lord’s sake and b) repeating stories runs in the family, so.

Did I ever tell you how my gramma told the same stories over and over again? Oh. Okay, well how about a short list of some of the great things she used to say. I’d like to think on those.


When me and my sisters were squabbling (or worse): “Don’t talk ugly to your sister.”

When my hair was a mess, which was always: “Mary Katherine … Let me give your hair a lick.”

When she was surprised or alarmed, usually by something innocuous: “Oh, me!”

When she was telling us a story about being mad at someone (male): “I’d like to jerk a knot in him!”

When I was a teeny kid and we would be reading on the couch together and we’d both get sleepy, Gramma would turn to me and say, “Let’s just conk out.”

Whenever I or my sisters wanted a quarter, or a peppermint, or a stick of Dentyne gum: “Go get me my purse.”

Always: “What a gorgiferous day!”

28 Responses

  1. MJ Snyder
    | Reply

    So happy that you and your mom filmed today, I miss you. Thanks for sharing your Grandmother with us. Sounds like a lovely and loving lady. She is surly smiling at your accomplishments from above!

  2. Sue
    | Reply

    You look so much like your mom!!
    We’ve just had some family time too…can’t be best 🙂

  3. Tammy Pettus
    | Reply

    I’m in Alabama. My girls talked ugly to each other. I conk out every night. I’ve jerked a knot in a tail or two in my time.

    Love these. So glad you’re taping on PBS some more.

    -Tammy Pettus

  4. Kerry
    | Reply

    Love the “gorgiferous day” – we are promised a few gorgiferous days at the end of the week! I sure hope so as I’d love to quote your grandmother 😀

  5. Robin Tuckerman
    | Reply

    Grandma’s are the best, being one and having one. Great story, thanks for sharing.

  6. Elizabeth
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    As a Mississippian, I recognize those phrases! Nothing like a Southern gramma!

  7. Barb Allen
    | Reply

    What wonderful memories of your Gramma you have, Mary – they are little treasures! I had to laugh at one of her sayings, because my mother said something similar: “I’d like to jerk a knot in his tail!” Requires no explanation.

    Also, it is great to see this photo of your beautiful mother and to see how much you look like her. That must make her very happy.

  8. Heather
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    Gorgiferous! I will use that word today, Mary Katherine. I will think of your Gramma–and mine. <3

  9. Annie
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    I never knew any of my grandmothers, one passed when I was only two, the other remained in Italy until she too passed. You are lucky to have such good memories of a grandmom. I have similar memories of my mom who passed at 83; I was the youngest of her six children and therefore felt very favored, although I know she loves us all for our uniqueness and individuality. Whenever I feel a bit sad or frustrated I remember mama, look at a picture of her crocheting that I keep prominently on my kitchen window sill so I can see her often every day, and can almost here her tell me to “buck up, every day is like a new page in your book of live”.

  10. Karen
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    Oh, Mary, what a beautiful description of a precious lady! I was lucky enough to have a loving caring Granma as well. In the summer, my sister and I would walk to her house in the afternoon to watch her “stories” (soap operas) with her. She kept butterscotch drops and burnt peanuts in a candy dish that we raided. AND she started us on our first hand stitched quilts, a bowtie pattern. She made many quilts herself, and I have some of them. Such love!

  11. Nancy
    | Reply

    Good morning Mary! Love love love your blog! Please darken the font!! My aged eyes have a hard time reading! I’m so grateful Quiltfolk darkened up there font! Love love love that magazine Keep up the great work!

  12. Anita Brayton
    | Reply

    Grandmas that spend time with kids are the most fun. They have the time to tell the same story, play the kid games and impart wisdom to the grands. They do all this without much effort, or so it seems. I had a great Grandma too.

  13. Pamela Hawthorne
    | Reply

    Love the old sayings one of ours was “how green” when something silly was said.

  14. Bethany
    | Reply

    Boy Mar, you sure look like your mom did in this photo. Are you the same age or close as she was in this photo?

    But I have a question, you are such a great writer, but I can’t understand this sentence _And it was said when my sisters’ and my gramma passed but it was also sad because my mom lost her mom.

    • Lindsey
      | Reply

      I didn’t understand it either.

    • Betty
      | Reply

      I think she meant “sad” instead of “said”. It was sad when gramma (belonging to my sisters and me) ….

      • Tobi Gourley
        | Reply

        No, she meant that the Gramma was both here and her sister’s.

        • Tobi Gourley
          | Reply

          Grrr autocorrect… “hers” and her sister’s…

  15. Kim Landry
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    Mary, you look so much more like your mom than I realized! Thanks for the Gramma stories, I had 2 wonderful Gramma’s also. Aren’t we lucky!

  16. Rebecca Koster
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    My grandma passed away in1998 at the age of 91 and my mom died just last month at 87. Mom often told me that grandma said,”If Becky likes to sew you should encourage her to do that. She will eventually learn to cook when she gets older but if she doesn’t learn to sew when she is young she won’t ever learn.” I still have the Quilts grandma tied for me 40 years ago. She loved to do handwork and made braided rugs and blankets from old coats and suits. Thanks for sharing your mom and grandma with us!

  17. Ann W.
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    Love this story very much, Mary! Sounds like she was a great, gentle lady. My Grandma passed at 95 and I have great memories of being with her. ♥️

  18. Ginny R
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    Miss Mary you are so beautiful and you look so much like your Mama! I do miss seeing both of you on the show. When I lived in Tennessee for a couple of years, while growing up, I learned the phrase “don’t be ugly”. To this day, I still use it occasionally. My Granny lived in East Texas and if we were fussing at each other, she would make us each eat a big dill pickle to teach us not to be so “sour”. Funny how your story brought back memories of my Granny. I remember going to visit her and helping cut buttons off of old clothing for her to reuse and then she used the good parts of the old clothes to make quilts. She instilled the love for quilting in me. You knew you were one of the “older” girls when you got to help cut out squares of fabric with her cardboard patterns. If you were grown up, you were allowed to cut out diamonds she used for her LeMoyne Star quilts. Such happy memories.

  19. Linda Duff`
    | Reply

    I think your Gramma and my 2 Grandmas would have gotten along well . . 🙂
    Our maternal Grandma ALWAYS had Wrigley’s Spearmint, Double Mint or Juicy Fruit gum in the little drop down drawer in front of her kitchen sink. We could have some, but ONLY if we asked nicely and then we only got 1/2 a piece. She loved to read to us too, and we were always called “snickelfritz” .. didn’t matter which grandkid she was talking to.
    Our paternal Grandma baked the BEST bread, and liked to snuggle with us too .. we were always in awe of her ‘fancy work’, as she called it (embroidery) and we loved to go across the road and sleep in the ‘twin room’ when it was hot at our house.
    Maybe they’re all hanging out in Heaven discussing their wonderful grandkids! 🙂

  20. Janet Fodrie
    | Reply

    We are all wealthy with the vast memories of our loved ones. I heard a few of those same comments myself .

  21. Jessie
    | Reply

    Lol, loved this post. My Gramma used to say “It’s the berries!” when something was really great, and my other Gramma would call out ” Jace! ” a combination of me (Jessie) and my sister’s(Stacy) names – that way we both would come running !

  22. Emily
    | Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It reminds me of my grandmother’s sayings. “Oh my word!!” When she was surprised, “Now Em” when I knew she was going to give advice, and we always knew what the weather was like by how many times she went “whew” when she came in the door. (My sister and I do this now!) Great memories of a great lady!

  23. maria
    | Reply

    Lovely memories. Hope we all have a gorgiferous day. (I will say that forever and think of you and your Gramma).

  24. Vickie lynn
    | Reply

    Don’t be ugly. Pretty is as pretty does.
    Not worth doin if you don’t do it right. And my favorite Granny saying was, I’m fixing to.

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