If It Weren’t My Life I Wouldn’t Believe It, Either

This past weekend D and Alex went to see D’s mother, Martha, and grandmother, Sissie, who live together in the house where D. grew up. Martha, has never met a retail establishment she didn’t like. On the other hand, Sissie abhors anything remotely related to shopping, but she does hold a special place in her heart for grandchildren and chocolate, both of which she adores. Martha is 75, Sissie is 96, and together they’re 171 years-o-fun.

Sissie likes to tell us that she can’t see. However, based on the fact that Sissie, sans glasses, loudly announced in Steinmarts one afternoon that Martha shouldn’t buy a certain sweater because “it says right here on the label that it’s DRY CLEAN ONLY,” we know better.

She also likes to answer the telephone and say, “WHO IS THIS? WHAT, SUGAR? OH! YOU KNOW I CAN’T HEAR!” D. and I contend that maybe one reason she can’t hear very well on the telephone is because she holds the mouthpiece to her ear and as a result buries the earpiece halfway around her head in the center of her freshly-coiffed white hair, which for whatever reason tends to make the speaker’s voice a bit, you know, muffled.

And this seems like as good a time as any to point out that the ability to whisper completely eludes Martha and Sissie. They think they can – but I know better since I have gotten up from the dinner table on more than one occasion and heard Sissie say, in her whisper-that-is-a-scream, “Martha, did she HAVE to give me so many potatoes?” or, even better, “Has she gained some weight?” Inevitably when Sissie “whispers,” Martha replies, in her own unique whisper-scream, “Mother, Sugar, this is NOT THE TIME to talk about that. We’ll talk about it LATER, sugar. Darlin’. Mother. Sugar. Darlin’.”

They’re quite the pair.

By now you’re no doubt wondering where this long-winded tale is heading. That makes two of us. I think what I planned to tell you was this: last weekend D called Martha and Sissie to remind them that he and Alex were going to be in town, and he asked, as he often does, how things were going with them.

Sissie replied that her tooth hurt and she couldn’t remember anything (side note: Sissie remembers what she spent to tile her bathroom in 1956 as well as what the most recent kilowatt reading was on her power meter). She went on to say that Martha’s toe hurt and might need surgery and Martha couldn’t remember anything, either (side note: Martha could tell you the current prices – regular AND sale – of each piece of the Harve’ Benard collection at Steinmarts, as well as seventeen different pound cake recipes that she has memorized just for kicks).

Anyway, D asked Sissie if anything else was going on, and she said, “Well, we’re both just miserable.” And then: “Don’t you and Alex want to come to lunch when you’re here?”

D replied that, given the all the upbeat news he’d just received from Sissie, he couldn’t think of anything that would possibly be more fun unless it was a root canal without the aid of anesthesia. Oh I’m kidding. He said they’d be delighted. Because seriously, it’s perfectly fine with us if Sissie says she can’t hear or see or remember, even if she can do all three. I mean, when you’re 96 you pretty much get to complain about whatever you want whenever you want. It’s one of the perks of being four years shy of a century.

So D and Alex went to lunch, and it was mighty entertaining in the way that trips to Martha and Sissie’s always are. Martha wanted to show off the latest fun, cropped jacket that she found at Steinmarts, and Sissie wanted to talk about how they “TRIED to get the house cold” before D. and Alex got there because, under normal circumstances, they keep the thermostat on a refreshing 84 degrees and still wear a sleeve. D picked up some fried chicken from KFC, and Martha and Sissie ate their usual: one chicken tender, half a biscuit, two tablespoons of cole slaw and a quarter cup of sweet tea.

For the record, Alex ate more than that when he was 16 months old.

While they were visiting, D took lots of pictures, all the while listening to Sissie say, “You’re going to run out of film! Don’t waste the film! OH, you’re using too much film! Do you have enough film to take all these pictures? Isn’t this going to be expensive?” She was not at all consoled by D’s explanation that the camera was digital and he could take somehwere around 300 pictures. She just looked annoyed and said, “Well, I wouldn’t know anything about that.”

Some of the pictures were your standard child-with-grandmother-and great-grandmother fare, like this one:


Or even this one:


But this next picture. OH, this next picture.

When I saw it I squealed with glee, because it captures the very essence of an afternoon with Martha and Sis. If I were a fiction writer, I could look at this picture for five minutes and develop a rough plot outline for an entire series of novels set in the South.

I think it’s my favorite picture ever, so I happily share it with you.


Welcome to my world.

I’m not leaving it and you can’t make me.

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  1. I’m not sure about an actual caption, but they seem to be doing some bizarre form of the “Hokey Pokey.” ;)

  2. Oh BooMama, I never quite know what to say except “you have such a way with words”. You just crack me up!
    I completely understand the “not able to see or hear”. My mother-in-law can read the fine print on anything, doesn’t even wear glasses – but she can’t see either. I, on the other hand, can barely read the phone book (and sometimes I can’t distinguish the numbers) without my glasses. The sad thing is she can’t walk or stand either. Ha! She could out run me probably.
    Sorry to be so long here. The picture is hilarious and I can only imagine what was truly happening.
    Thanks for participating in the meme too.

  3. i can think of several captions! they all have a dance move named in them ! lol

  4. I won’t make you leave your world, but oh the laughs we could have if I could join you for a day.

    The all white ensemble alone is worth the picture. :)

  5. I remember those pretty ladies from a few months ago! What a delight they sound like. Thanks for taking the time to capture and share with me a few minutes with such delightful women, Sugar. Darling. I can almost hear them! I love it!

    Have you thought about renting them out? ;)

  6. Why don’t you write a NEW rendition of Steel(er) Magnolias, and how easy it would be as you have the characters right before your eyes, and ours. You really do have a way with words, Sugah, and let me tell you it is indeed fun to read about,darlin. You crack me up. And as for the two of them, they must be a hoot, and good for your dh to document such a wonderful visit. She doesn’t look a day past 80 and yet she’s approaching 100??? Wowsers, Boomama, you do have some comic material at hand. Get busy tellin us more about it honey. 8-)

  7. Is she demonstrtating some kay-rah-tay? Looks like ;-) xoxo melzie

  8. She looks like she’s doing Michael Jackson’s Thriller dance! LOL. How cute!

  9. I love it!!!! What a GREAT story!! And that last picture is absolutely hysterical. What in the world are they doing?

  10. Love. Steinmarts. And they all are all cute as can be. :)

  11. “By now you’re no doubt wondering where this long-winded tale is heading. That makes two of us. I think what I planned to tell you was this:” –I LOVE the way you tell a story. I forgot you were headed somewhere till you reminded me…I was just caught up in your story telling. You’re blog is always so upbeat…and kind. You’re a real southern belle. Thanks for uplifting reading.

  12. *big smile* My mother and grandmother add an “s” to everything! Is that a Southern thing?? What beautiful, entertaining ladies! I’m sure they are a hoot in real life, too. :-)

  13. A fantastic picture – I can’t stop smiling!

  14. My own grandma is going to be 96 next month and still lives on her own. Lucky for me she is just a tich down the gravel from my own house and Princess Daughter bikes nearly everyday to see her. She is a riot. She’ll tell me she has done nothing all day and then recite a list of what she actually has done that will go from working in her garden to scrubbing the tops of her cabinets. It sounds utterly exhausing to this 46 year old! I’m going shopping with her tomorrow, and looking forward to it.

  15. Treasure it. My grandma is fading fast…I’m 28 and it is just about to kill me seeing her sick.

    I love looking back at the childhood pictures. It will be a legacy someday.

  16. I thoroughly enjoyed this post! Reminds me of my crazy aunts and my sweet little gram! And great pics too.

  17. The peach draperies (on hooks no doubt), and the beauty parlor hair (heavily sprayed) complete the look nicely. . .

  18. Oh I love this post! It really makes me miss my granny who’s hair was also always freshly-coiffed…but for us southern gals is there really any other way??

  19. Note to Big Mama:
    Martha had no choice BUT to wear all white. You see, it was Labor Day weekend, and you NEVER wear white after Labor Day. Oh, you just never wear it. You never wear it after Labor Day. Never! :)

  20. First of all Sister does a fabulous immitation of Martha!

    Secondly, I would never want to make you leave your world, because then I would not be able to live in it vicariously through your stories.

    Steinmart, eh? I hear Kohl’s is nice. ;-)

  21. You got that right, Sister – she had to get that white outfit in while the gettin’ was still good. Because it won’t see the light of day until after Easter next year.

    And Big Mama, I don’t know if you’ve read about how Martha likes to say things in threes, but Sister’s got a FINE impersonation goin’ in her comment. :-)

  22. I know that it’s NONE OF MY BUSINESS how many children you end up bearing dear Boomama…but having seen those pictures of those precious women….


    Simply so that she could gain those amazing anti-aging genes.

    Sincerely in awe,
    Chris in Canada.

  23. Looks like Martha might wear that rust colored carpet thin with her dancing. What in the sam hill was she doing?

  24. Oh, and how could I not mention this….my favorite thing you have EVER said about them was the time I asked you about their recent visit to your house. Your reply was that they somehow “got Cody face powder from one end of the bathroom to the other.” I will never forget that as long as I live.

  25. Martha reminds me of John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever.” Do you think she was showing Alex how those dances are done?

  26. I just loved this, Boomama. I loved the pictures and your charming way of describing them!

    And they are, indeed, two beautiful women who apparently have discovered the fountain of youth! :)

  27. Love it – just love it!!

  28. LOVE-R-LY!
    Love it!

    And that TOTALLY looks my mamaw’s house (another fine southern gal!)

  29. My 3-year old does the same thing with the phone! It cracks me up!

    Thanks for sharing the great story!


  30. This is a funny story! Thanks for the laugh.

  31. ROTFL And I am glad to know it isn’t just my family.

  32. PS- I was glad to read that the white was pre-Labor and not post-Labor.

  33. I know you hated having to miss all that excitement. Good thing D. didn’t run out of film. Those pictures are priceless!

  34. Just hilarious! What a great story-teller you are – thanks!

  35. I love, I love, I LOVE that they have the same hair.

    You will appreciate this…my husband’s grandmother, mother and sister are all named Martha, and to them it is pronounced, “Mah-tha”, as I’m sure yours is as well.

  36. Dude, she is totally Kung Fu Granny. THAT is awesome.

  37. “Stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive, ah, ah, ah, ah, Stayin’ ALIVE!”

    That’s what I’m thinking.

    Only now that I’m looking at this does it seem ironic, with Sissie being 96 and all:)

    Hilarious, as always. I need to call you:) Or, you know, you could always call me. ;)

  38. Shannon –

    Oh, she’s totally a “Mah-tha,” except with the grandbabies, who call her “Martie,” and when she signs their cards she always puts the word “Martie” in “quotes.” Because it’s not her “real” name – it’s just her “grandmother” name.



  39. Boomama you make me laugh! (It’s only 88 in the garage tonight so I have PLENTY of time for comments.) This reminds me so much of my grandparents. Last time we went to Bryan we walked in the house and the reading on the thermostat was 86. Seriously, could I make this up? Loved this story! And Nena often goes to Steinmarts herself.

  40. Very amusing story. I think it would be fun to spend time with such sweethearts.

  41. Okey Dokey, I LIVE this story. My 96 year old Grandma, who must have the heater on when it is 90 degrees outside just moved in with my mother and guess who gets to come over and grandma-sit her once a week so my mother doesn’t go crazy?

    Yep, that’s me. With my four, count ’em, FOUR children in tow. How fun is that? I’m constantly having to break up power struggles between my 2 year old and my grandmother. They fight over who got more cookies for lunch and who’s going to make it to the bathroom first. Now don’t get me wrong, I love her dearly but, Lord help me, cuz one of these days I’m just going to reach over to that heater and turn it down 10 degress….either that or strip and run through the house naked like a crazy woman!

  42. I just had to pop in and tell you I love that picture! Makes me grin ear to ear. I can just imagine the whole visit, thanks for sharing, Martha and Sissy are both beautiful.
    Jenny in Ca

  43. What a precious precious pair! And I love your description! LOL! Yes.I.was!

    I LOVE the first picture of the 3 of them!

  44. I was cracking up reading this! I love the pictures…they remind me of my mom and her sister and the pics we take when we visit AL. : )

  45. Very entertaining story. Do they drive?? I bet they cook great, don’t they? You know, jars and cans of stuff like tomatoes and jellies and things like that. Can they be my grandmothers?

  46. BooMama……………I loved this post of yours so much I would ready anything you post!!

    What a great family you all have.

    thank you for sharing this wonderful blog.

  47. OK I have to say that I laughed so hard my son was looking at me like I had lost it.

    I’m from the south too and totally know what you mean about the whisper-that-is-a-scream thing. Although my grandmother and mother don’t do that my two aunts who live together do. Family gatherings are a great form of cheap entertainment lol.

    Love the pics too!

  48. 2 very cool chicks. I dig it.

  49. Oh, that last pic had me LOL…litterally!!

  50. Honestly? This sounded like something Fannie Flagg would write. What a couple of characters. My favorite thing? The big hair.

  51. How fun do they sound? And those pictures are priceless. I seem to remember them from a former post.

  52. This post made me laugh out loud! I love the pictures. :) I have such a soft spot for the elderly. Hooray for Sissie for making it to 96 years old, thus far, with Martha right behind her. :)

  53. Man, I wish I was Southern. There ain’t nothin funny about Michigan. What sweet precious pictures. I’m only a few years shy of having coifed white hair, myself. LOL.

  54. I knew my comment didn’t make it. Something happened yesterday and I just came back to double check. So, let me reiterate..

    Did someone say Kohl’s?

    I love the pics too. I really miss my grandma right about now. She would have loved my girls.


  55. Oh that is too funny! I wonder what Alex thinks of them…

  56. Oh that reminds me so much of my Grandma! She is 75 and quite the character!!

    Sounds like they keep you on your toes though. I bet you just love talking to them!

  57. This is too sweet. They look like they are ladies on the go!

  58. Too cute!

  59. You are hilarious! I so wish my grandmothers were still alive to make memories with my children. By the way, I think I finally figured out why your blog name (sorry, probably not the right term) is “Boomama”–you do not like Alabama!! Sorry, even though I am a brunette, I do have my blonde moments :). I finally have my own blog. I will try to tell you how to find it. Sarah said that if I have any tech. questions, you are the Tech Master (or should I say mistress, no probably not, that does not sound very nice).

    Kristi from NC
    Above All I Could Ask or Imagine

  60. And yet ANOTHER blonde moment, but this time I recovered and I think I figured it out :). Here is the post/link/whatever you call it!

    Kristi from NC


  1. […] If It Weren’t My Life, I Wouldn’t Believe It, Either […]

  2. […] I started off at Steinmart (or “Steinmarts,” if you’re Southern, and especially if you’re my mother-in-law), and I found a lovely, affordable, soft-as-fur throw for D’s grandmother, who got out of the hospital yesterday after an extended stay due to a broken hip. […]

  3. […] Tomorrow will find us on the road to Mississippi, where we’ll be celebrating Christmas with Martha and Sissie, and Martha will no doubt regale us with stories about how you just can’t find cute church dresses anymore, how she found a perfectly darling pantsuit at the Dillards in Hattiesburg but they didn’t have it in her size at the Hattiesburg store or at any of Dillards’ other 374 locations throughout the continental US, and how the Blue Bell ice cream hasn’t been on sale for weeks at the Winn Dixie, because you know she loves to buy peaches and chop them up and fold them into the Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla because it tastes just like homemade peach ice cream, and don’t tell anybody but one time she did just that for a United Methodist Women ice cream supper, and do you know that she got RAVES for that ice cream? She did! She got raves! […]

  4. […] So I decided that it made to the most sense to concentrate my search at the stores I visit almost daily: Walmart(s) and Steinmart(s). For two reasons: […]