Things My Grandma Says

A photo of Memaw, Pawpaw, and little Victoria in France ’93

My grandma says the best things. She’s also a pretty snappy writer. (I like to think that wordsmiths run in the family.) My aunt and I were recently remembering our favorite “Memaw-isms” and I just had to share a few. (Yes, my grandmother is called ‘Memaw’ and my late grandpa was called ‘Pawpaw’. We’re a very normal Southern family.) My aunt reminded me of what Memaw would always say about disenchanted church goers:

Many people come to church and say well, “I just didn’t get anything out of the sermon. I wasn’t spiritually fed.” Mom always said, “Well, you do have to bring your plate and fork to the table.”

How classic is that!?

If my grandmother ever responds to your idea with, “Oh, how interesting,” you’ll know it really wasn’t. If she ever says to you, “We’ll just see about that!”, you know you really won’t. Memaw ends every argument with her catchphrase, “You can believe what you want to believe, and I’ll believe what’s right.” Gold.

Memaw has always given the most astute observations on life. Once, when I was having a moment of twenty-something year old drama, she encouraged me with these words, “Honey, when you’re twenty years old you worry about what people think of you. When you’re fifty you realize they weren’t thinking of you at all.”

My grandmother is a first generation American. She was born in 1941, in a little suburb of Boston, to Canadian immigrant parents. She likes to say she has Yankee moxy. She likes to say it because it’s true. While she learned to walk in her parent’s tenement apartment, W0rld War II raged across two continents. Memaw’s dad stood in bread lines during the The Great Depression. Coming of age in the 1950s my Memaw can remember catching the train into Boston with her girlfriends. Can you imagine teenagers traipsing about Boston? Sharing ice cream cones and flirting with boys?

Times have changed, make no mistake.

Reflecting on her recent birthday, my Memaw sent me a piece of writing that beautifully captures her sentiments. In one part, she wrote about how people in 1941 would have reacted to people today:

All the do dads of 2013 would have scared folks: computers and cable TV. I remember getting a TV when I was about 12; it was in black and white, 15 minutes at a time. It was not on all the time. I was born outside of Boston, we all sat on the pouches or stumps and conversion went up and down the houses. What would they think now of young people? Pink  hair on  girls and boys, tattoos on boys and girls – and earrings, also.
Memaw does have some of that Yankee moxy, I think. She’s a survivor. My late grandpa’s job required that the family move quite a lot. She raised three kids in almost ten homes over twenty years. That’s impressive. She’s been a stay-at-home mom and a working mom. She’s baked dozens of cookies for neighborhood kids and dozens of her famous “funeral pies” for families mourning the loss of a loved one. Memaw has said tons of quotable lines over the years, enough for a small book I’m sure. If you listen to her voice, I mean if you were to really listen, she’ll give you the kind of wisdom that only a 72-year-old Christian lady with a good dose of Yankee moxy can give – wisdom that’s been tested and refined, as she would tell you, by her Lord and Savior.
And that’s something worth saying.


  1. Donna Daniels on April 5, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    Love it:)

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  4. Kelly on February 7, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    “Honey, when you’re twenty years old you worry about what people think of you. When you’re fifty you realize they weren’t thinking of you at all.” SO TRUE! I think we often forget that everyone else is as self conscious as we are, just as self absorbed too, and are tied up in their own thoughts never taking time to notice us.

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