Her birthday is not until November 30, but today I am drawn to the similarities between myself and my Granny Dimmick, née Mary Ella Evans:
- She liked to have a lot of people around. Granny grew up the fourth or fifth of seven children* in a New Orleans boardinghouse owned and run by her mother, and with roughly 30 boarders. Aunt Kate once told me there could be 40 people sitting around in the parlor after dinner, and that everyone would keep their seats as long as possible, because as soon as anyone made a move there would be a chorus of "While you're up, could you get me . . . ?" So Granny grew up in a houseful of people and few things made her as happy as a houseful of people. Probably the fullest was Christmas Eve in any given year, when five children and their spouses and 18 grandchildren and some assorted other relations could gather under her roof (or Aunt Betty and Uncle Hutch's). The way she would smile . . . well, you could just tell it was Heaven. For myself, I often say "I want everybody there," and by everybody I mean at least dozens. I think immediately of the Bulwer-Lytton Bad Fiction Contest Party of 1994 (when I was still on Beacon Street) and the apartment was so full some arriving guests just gave up, the Margo Channing Memorial of 2004 (77 guests), and there was one Poverty Pasta with 18 people at which I ended up having to eat off the sofa with another guest because all possible table space had been filled. I need to make more of a commitment to creating these occasions.
- She was not a very good housekeeper. At some point during the 1970s Granny carpeted almost the entire house in gold shag carpeting, and I will never forget the black traffic patterns in it after the furniture was cleared out after she died. I mean black. And the dusty grime on those rusty flower stands on the sun porch for her African violets. At some point she had the back hallway painted a pale yellow, but they did it over the wallpaper, and you could see the pattern through the paint. Now for me, as anyone who's ever visited knows, I just don't put my first attention on housekeeping. But as Mother's cousin Evelyn used to say "I'd rather have 'She was a good person and a lot of fun' on my tombstone and not 'She was a good housekeeper.'" Or something like that.
- Good behavior was important. Granny would speak out if you crossed the line of what she thought was good behavior, and of course I've rather made that my mission over the last few years with Etiquetteer.
- Napping made a difference. Granny, when I knew her, often had trouble sleeping at night and would stay up late, watching television and either shelling pecans, peeling shrimp, or playing solitaire. So a midmorning nap and a midafternoon nap often played an important part in her daily routine. And I love me a good nap!
* I can never remember the exact order, but Johnnie and Kate were the youngest. I think it was Sister (Bess), Fannie, Mary Ella or Lal, Lal or Mary Ella, Johnnie, and Kate, with Uncle Jim in either the #2 or #3 position.