My Mother, Grandmother McElveen, Miss Ada Rast, Tootsie and Me Making Biscuits, Jeanne Robertson
My Momma-Wise and Wonderful
Right before my wedding Momma said to me, “You know, somewhere in the Bible it says to keep your husband happy. I don’t know the exact verse, but it’s something like ‘for every headache you have, there’s a woman out there somewhere with an aspirin in her purse’” (Book of Eleanor, chapter one, verse one).
Grandmother McElveen-One Tough Lady!
She taught me that you can be both fierce and feminine. I learned this lesson the night my sister and I were comforting her; things changed when an intruder tried to break in the house.
As if she were in an episode of Bonanza, her legs were planted in a fighting position, and pressed against her shoulder was a Browning Lever Action Rifle. “Get off my porch ____________or I will blow your head off!”
My sister and I were more stunned than the intruder. He ran in a full trot from the house, and we ran full throttle back into the bedroom and hid under the sheets. We heard footsteps and then that sweet grandmother voice: “Da-lins, are y’all okay?”
“Come her-ah, Je-an!” said Momma in a stern voice. I was in a full gallop running around our small home, which Daddy had renovated from a meager tenant house. Both Momma and my second momma, Tootsie, chased me around the house in an attempt to brush my honey-blonde curls, which Momma called knots. We were all three running in the same direction.
Tootsie turned around and headed in the opposite way. I was doomed. “I gotcha, Dupe,” Tootsie said, using her pet name for me as she grabbed me with her strong black arms.
“Good!” Momma said. “I was tired of chasing you around the house with this sassified brush.”
My three-year-old response was “I don’t like that sassified brush.”
“What did you just say to me?”
There was no doubting Momma’s angry tone or what was about to come. Sassified might not seem like much of a cuss word, but to me it was the mother-ship of all bad words and my first attempt to mock Momma . . . something you dare not do in the South. Even at age three, I knew repeating what I thought was my first cuss word was going to get me into a heap of trouble.
Then my hero, Tootsie, chimed in. “Oh no, Miss Eleanor. You not gwine fuss at my baby chile. You done say dat word furst.”
Jane Jenkins Herlong is a Sirius XM Humorist, international best-selling/award-winning author, professional singer, recording artist and award-winning professional speaker.
Jane is a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame and one of the 232 men and women to be awarded this honor including former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and the late General Colin L. Powell. Jane has also achieved the distinction of becoming a Certified Speaking Professional by the National Speakers Association.