Another Mammie Story

By Melissa Face

Another Mammie Story

It’s 8 pm, and I am driving a few miles to my grandmother’s house for a visit. For some, this is probably an unusual time to go see a grandparent, but for us it works perfectly. We are both night owls who love evening coffee, late night talk shows and, of course, a little story telling.

My grandmother, Mammie, is 81. She still lives on her own and aside from no longer driving, she is fiercely independent.

“You like my haircut?” she asks.

“I do,” I answer. “Where did you get it done?”

“I did it myself,” she replies. “It was getting too long, so I whacked the hell out of it!”

We both laugh and try not to spit out our coffee. It is definitely one of her shorter styles, but it looks good on her.

“You’ve let yours get long,” she comments. “I like it.”

Then she reminds me not to wait too long before changing it up.

“I’ve had mine blonde, brown and black. I’ve even been a redhead,” she recalls. “Howard (her late husband) used to never know who he was going to come home to!”

I listen intently and encourage her to go on. I want to hear her stories about being the wife of a truck driver and raising four children. I want to hear them, and it’s important for her to share them.

“It wasn’t easy raising the kids with him being gone so much,” she says. “And it was hard to budget too. He would get paid, and we would eat well for the first part of the month, and then we’d get down to the last couple cans of soup at the end of the month.”

“Tell me about some of your jobs,” I prompt.

She explains that she often ran errands for my grandfather, helped with paperwork and worked as a secretary at the kids’ school for a while. And after my grandfather’s tragic death at a work site, she took on a full-time position. She obtained a job as a 911 dispatcher for the City of Suffolk.

“I liked my dispatcher job, and I was good at it,” she continues. “I don’t mean that to sound boastful or prideful. I worked hard at it, and I got really good at it. It wasn’t easy, especially the hours.”

I do remember her working odd shifts. I remember her falling asleep in a recliner before lunch, after dinner or sometimes even at one of my cousin’s birthday parties. We would ask our parents if Mammie was okay. They’d tell us she was fine. Just tired. Working midnights this week.

There were positives to those crazy hours she worked though. Sometimes she was able to take me to the doctor when I was “sick” so that my mom could still go to work. We would go to the doctor, to lunch, to the mall and even for ice cream. And all the way there and back, she would tell me stories.

“Do you remember the time we were driving together and we talked about everything we would buy if we won the lottery?” I ask her.

“I do. That was fun. We had it all planned out,” she says.

Then the conversation diverts to hunky movie stars, and she tells me about James Garner.

“He was a real looker,” she says. “You should have seen him in that movie with Doris Day. What was it called?”

I tell her I have no idea, and I Google the actors’ names on my phone.

“Move Over… Move Over, Darling?” I ask.

“That’s it! It’s a really cute movie. You should watch it sometime. He thinks that his wife is dead, so he moves on and marries someone else. But she’s not dead. It’s really cute. Just watch it.”

Mammie offers to top off my coffee, but I realize that it’s 11:30 pm. It’s time for me to be heading home.

“Already? That went by too fast.”

I agree that it did, thank her for the coffee and give her a kiss on the cheek.

“You should write a story about me,” she says, as I walk down the steps.

I remind her that I have written several stories about her, more than I have written about my own children.

“Write another one!” she laughs. “Write about how I used to shoot my gun out the window and make you laugh. Write about the time that your mom had to pull the car over on the way to Dover because we were making her laugh so hard she couldn’t drive.”

“Good idea,” I say with a smile. “There’s always room for another Mammie story.”

I drive home and enter my dark, quiet living room. I’m so sleepy, and I know I should go straight to bed. But I don’t. Instead, I turn on Netflix and search for a title. And I find it. James Garner and Doris Day in Move Over, Darling.

I watch the entire movie and fall asleep happy and thankful. I’m grateful for another visit with my grandmother, another late night and another chance to share a story.

About this writer

  • Melissa FaceMelissa Face lives in southern Virginia with her husband, son and daughter. Her stories and essays have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Cup of Comfort. Email Melissa at writermsface@yahoo.com.

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18 Responses to “Another Mammie Story”

  1. Melissa, this precious story made me smile. Store as many memories as you can. You will treasure them.

  2. Marsha Tennant says:

    This is a precious memory. Southern women flat out have the BEST stories.

  3. Melissa,
    Thank you so much for that…you had me sitting in the livingroom with you both! It is always a treat to see her! I love these stories..please keep sharing!
    God bless You and Your Loved Ones,
    Millie A.

  4. Melissa Face says:

    Thank you, Linda. I really enjoyed your piece, and your blog is fantastic!

  5. Brenda Faison says:

    Melissa, this is a great story about Mammie! I could actually hear her talking to you :)

  6. Melissa Face says:

    Thanks so much, Marsha!!

  7. Vicki Hale says:

    Melissa, I love your stories about your grandmother! Your love shines bright.

  8. I enjoyed this story so much Melissa!! I knew only one of my grandparents really well–my “Grammy”. We had so much fun together and …Oh the stories she could tell!! Thanks for reminding me of those memories.

  9. Rose Ann says:

    A wonderful story about a wonderful relationship. Well done, Melissa!

  10. Melissa says:

    Thank you, Millie! I appreciate your comment.

  11. Melissa says:

    Thank you, Brenda. That is exactly what I hoped for!

  12. Melissa says:

    I appreciate that, Vicki. I miss seeing you!

  13. Melissa says:

    Thank you for reading and commenting, Laurie! Hope all is well with you.

  14. I really enjoyed “Another Mammie Story.” I’m a “Mammie” who loves sharing stories with my grandchildren. I can only hope they will want to spend time with me when I’m in my eighties!

  15. Melissa Face says:

    Thank you, Alice. I hope so for your sake and for theirs! It will be their privilege to listen to “Mammie” stories!

  16. Erika Hoffman says:

    What a wonderful gift you give to your grandma– your presence. You sit; you listen; you enjoy. She’s lucky to have you and you to have her! Great dialogue.

  17. Melissa says:

    Thank you! What a wonderful comment!

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