Monday, July 31, 2006
Thinkin' 'bout things
We always called my mother “Mama.” I can’t imagine calling one’s mother, “mother.” That always sounded cold to me.
The women of my childhood who were called “Mother” by their kids were the kind of women who were a little uppity in my child’s eye. They were the kind of women who looked like Beaver Cleaver’s Mother. Not my Mama.
Mama was a scrappy little midget. I was as tall as she was by the time I was ten. She wasn’t what she would have called “tray chick” at all. Bless her heart. ( Southern women say, “Bless her heart,” about every other sentence.) Mama wore her hose rolled down to her ankles when no one was visiting. Don’t even pretend you know what I mean when I say that.
Mama wore housedresses (is that still a word?) all the time when she was at home, and stockings with garters. Panty hose had not been invented. To save the nylons from getting runs, and I guess the garters were uncomfortable, she rolled her garters down and ended up with stockings on her feet with little donut-stocking covered ankles. That Mama. Pretty silly looking. Bless her heart.
When folks were visiting and then they left, the last thing Mama would say to them as they drove off is, “Y’all come.” Sometimes it was, “Y’all come, ya hear?” Even if it was just one person who was leaving. Damnyankees misunderstand that. They think that southerners say “y’all” to just one person. But it always means “all of you.” So when Mama said “y’all come” she was saying, “I hope you and your family come to see us.” The “You hear,” part is just added emphasis meaning, “I really mean it.”
How ‘bout calling your father, “Father?” I never knew anyone who called their daddy, “Father.” We called our father, “Daddy.” Women in the south when I was comin’ up would refer to their husbands as, “the children’s father.” Actually the lesser-educated ones would say, “my baby’s daddy.” Mind you, these women were married to their baby’s daddy.
When you call kids to dinner in the north they’ll yell, “Just a minute!” We answered a call to come with, “drect-ly.” One day in the seventh grade a boy named Paul turned to me and said, “Did you know that “drect-ly” is really the word “directly”? I told him, “Nope. Who’dthunkit?” It was a revelation to me. We had been saying to our mothers “I will be there directly,” when we said drect-ly. I always thought it meant, “Yeah, yeah. I hear ya.”
Well, I’m done with thinkin’ about my childhood in the south. I’m fixin’ to go to bed now.
Y’all come back now. Ya hear?
Bless your hearts.