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!”