Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Honey and me, 1967

Her family called her Baby. When she went to school, they wanted a name. She didn't have one. The story I heard (from her) is that she named herself Peggy Pansy. She was 6.

She was a high school basketball player. She was good. She was the only one of her four sisters (the youngest) to graduate from high school. She went to the next county to marry my grandfather, at 17 just shy of graduation, then went back home to live with her parents -- like nothing had happened. She didn't tell them she was married, the town did.

Not long after, a car pulled up into their gravel driveway. She told me she remembered the dust flying. The man offered her a basketball scholarship to Arkansas State University. She declined, telling him she had recently married.

I once asked her if she ever regretting getting married and not taking that scholarship. She told me, "If I had done that, I wouldn't have you!"

Her new husband was called to World War II. She was 20 and pregnant. When my father was born, he went AWOL to see him before he was shipped to Japan. Jumped a train. Apparently, there were no long-term implications.

She had three children and a husband who took risks. Many of those, thankfully, were lucky business decisions. My grandfather also liked to gamble. He wasn't a very good father, missing their children's big occasions for a card game. He was a good grandfather. When he died in 2001, my brother put a royal flush in his pocket whilst he laid in the casket. It seemed fitting.
Each of her children called her something different. My older aunt called her Mama and my younger aunt called her Mother. My Daddy named her Honey. That's all he ever called her. That's what all her grandchildren called her; I was the oldest.

I lived next door to them from age 5 until I moved away from home. My mother was a teacher, so the bus dropped us off at Honey's, who normally had sugar cookies or other treats for us until my mother told her not to feed me, I was too fat!

She was strong as nails, but she gave the best hugs. She enveloped you in her body. She loved her children and grandchildren with the most fervent passion I've known. She could kick ass if needed.

She was generous. She bought me a new car for high school graduation. She took me shoe shopping and bought me whatever I picked out. I picked out $98 shoes in 1982. She didn't care. They were the right ones.

When she died (in 1991), she left instructions for me to have her mink coat. I've only worn it once, to her funeral. I asked my mother if I should. My mother said, "If Honey were here, she'd say, 'If you've got it, flaunt it.'"

She died 17 years ago this month. I still miss her.


Brenda said...

Your touching tribute brought tears to my eyes, Jeanna. The twinkle in Honey's eyes shows just how proud she was of her cute little granddaughter, and I can imagine how proud she would be of you now.

Coyote Bebop said...

Put on that Mink, and do something to make yourself smile...or better yet, laugh.

R.I.P., Honey.