Mommo and The Head Ache

I had a nice moment at work today. Without warning, Mommo (my grandmother’s – it’s what we called her) “popped” into my head. My grandmother passed away several years ago – she was 92 at the time, a noble Southern woman, born and bred. Even though she was always Mommo to me, her given name was Reba Lee Stapp and, after marrying my grandfather, she became “Miss Hitch” – Southerners are SO polite. However, to most people, she was simply “Miss Becky” (a nickname for Reba).

Reba Lee StappA hand-colored photograph  of my grandmother, Reba Lee Stapp. Date unknown.

Mommo in Columbus

One of my favorite images of  Mommo, taken when she was 90. She was elegant, classy and very “Steel Magnolias” – a proud and strong “Southern Woman.” I love and miss her.

Anyway, Mommo was a GREAT grandmother, and I loved many things about her.  She spoiled me rotten, was a great cook, had thousands of stories and her accent? Her drawl made me crazy! Like many life-long Southerners, my grandmother spoke in a V-E-R-Y slow, almost sing-song-y way that was punctuated with a lot of voice modulation. Now, combine that with all the just dang “cute words” people from the South say – things like y’all (you all), poke (paper bag), shears (scissors) and shellie peas (pinto beans) – and well, I melt… I “do” a pretty mean Mommo imitation; my whole family is always jealous and still makes me do it at family get-togethers.

Anyway, besides the WAY she spoke, Mommo also used words in a lot of cute ways. She paired words and phrases together in a unique way that made me love her all the more. Today, when I heard her in my head, I heard a Mommo Classic –

“I got the headache.”

You see, my grandmother never had a headache, she had THE headache. Or, more accurately, the HEAD ache. Headache was a two word phrase to Mommo, and the way she said it always made me think there was a singular, recurring headache that was like her own, personal arch nemesis. Like the Joker to Batman. Or Lucy to Charlie Brown. Or Lux Luthor to Superman. I know it sounds cruel, but whenever she suffered from head pain, Mommo would say this and it made me smile:

“Timmmmmmm-ee? Ow Lourd, Eye got thuh HEAD ayke agin, the HEAD ayke.” Say this sentence out loud in your best/worst Southern accent (yup, that’s it). Punch HEAD when you say it and S-L-O-W I-T W-A-Y D-O-W-N, LOL!

Anyway, someone mentioned they had a headache at work today and, without thinking, I asked them if they had a headache or THE head ache. It was a question I always asked my grandmother to tease her. My co-worker looked at me like I was insane… It made me smile.

Love and miss you, Mommo. Hope you, Poppo, AJ, BeeBoo, Peg and Uncle Charles are all together and having fun. (Told you that people from the South like nicknames!)

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