Grammie Hannan, Abbie not Monette, could spit. I am not saying that Grammie Monette lacks an impressive spit just that this memory is about Grammie Hannan (Abbie).
Grammmie Hannan is my father’s mother and she was born in early nineteen aught something. 1902 or 1904. All my grandparents were born in the early nineteen aughts and I just can’t remember which was when.
Jubilee, my bonus baby, was born one hundred years later in two thousand aught four. Wow. I had not thought about that before – 100 years. Wow. Grammie Hannan died over a quarter of a century ago. My heart aches that none of my children know her. There were long seasons when Grammie Abigail Stevenson Hannan was my best friend. She was tough but I knew she had my back. David’s, too.
Sometimes Grammie used words like aught. Aught can be used as an auxiliary verb, a pronoun, and a noun. Aught is one of those words that is hard to work into ordinary conversation, but we all know what it means when we hear it.
To be certain that I truly did know what it means, I looked it. I learned that it is considered archaic and identified, in three out of four sources, as Old English. One source credited ancient Scottish roots. If I had found ancient Irish roots, too, it would be a word akin to my own heritage which leans more Scottish and Irish than English, but I have not done the DNA testing so who knows.
Grammie Hannan sometimes used terms and phrasing that was new to my young Texas ears. I don’t consciously recall many of them, but they will occasionally pop into my head and I remember her using them. Or, like today, I am telling a story and there they are. “Pooh” was integral in several color phrases. Don’t stir it with a stick. He thinks his doesn’t stink. I feel like hammered doggie… you get the picture.
My favorite poetic memory from Grammie Hannan ended with, “I don’t know how in hell ‘e can.” It is a great poem. You ought to look it up. (Ought is derived from “to owe.” And, yes, I did spend too much time looking at definitions this morning, but it was genuinely entertaining and mentioned nothing of politics or the downfall of civilization.)
Oh, never mind. I looked it up for you. It appears to be by Dixon Lanier Merritt.
“A wonderful bird is the Pelican.
His beak can hold more than his belly can.
He can hold in his beak
Enough food for a week!
But I’ll be darned if I know how the hellican?”
Don’t you hate it when writers take too long to get to the point. I know I do. Apologies!
So, we loved to go walking with Grammie Hannan in the woods, my sister and I. At least I loved it. I think Brenda did, too. If she did not love it, she was at least game to join us. There were THICK woods behind Grammie Hannan’s house in Liberty, Maine. At least they seemed thick at the time. We did not go back there often, but sometimes with Grammie. Often we would walk the dirt road in front of the house or up the hill to the garden. Grammie was always on the move. AND SHE COULD SPIT. Impressively.
When I tried, if I were sitting, the spittle ended up on my lap. If I were standing the spittle ended up on my shoes.
I was a spitting failure.
The opposite of a flaming success.
Fast forward forty something, maybe fifty years and…
I GOT IT DOWN! Grammie would be proud.
Revelation dawned during an early morning walk with my boxer/ ridgeback mix, Wesley. It was cold. No tissues. Only one option: spit.
Turns out the key to success is seasonal allergies!
Happy memories of walking with Grammie Hannan flooded my heart and mind.
Grammie’s legacy has come full circle.
I hope one day to have grandchildren carry forward the legacy, but without the allergies.