I was trying to go through some stuff in my office recently when I came across some thank you cards that I had evidently bought and forgot to send. They had yellowed with age.
I am bad about doing that. My intentions are good but my follow through is pitiful.
I wasn’t sure which occasion was I bought them for, but it may have been when Granny passed away.
Boy, she would be rolling in her grave if she knew I had not sent some thank you notes. She always, always kept score of everything.
When I married the ex, she made sure I sent out a thank you note immediately if I received a gift, telling me to get right on it.
“I’ve got time,” I said, ever the procrastinator.
“What if you die before you send out a thank you?” she asked.
“Um, then I guess I won’t have to worry about it?” was my response.
Granny did not like that answer and said so. According to her, I’d have to come back from the Great Beyond and finish them.
“Them pearly gates ain’t gonna open if you’ve got unfinished business down here on Earth and unsent thank you notes falls in that category.”
Granny always determined someone’s breeding based on whether or not they sent out thank you cards. It didn’t matter what someone’s education or socio-economic status was, if they were not thoughtful enough to respond to a gift, Granny thought they were worse than the rest of us heathens.
Just like she knew who sent cards, she knew who did and gave what for different occasions. Whenever I had a school fundraiser, she was quick to remind her friends of how many fundraisers she had supported over the years as she slid an order form and catalog in front of them.
Once, someone defied her and told her they couldn’t order a magazine because they had already purchased from someone else. I can only imagine the smoke that came out of her ears.
“Don’t you worry,” she told me. “They’ll order something. I have bought cookies we didn’t need, and God only knows what else all under the assumption they would support me when the time came.”
“Don’t you mean support me?” I asked.
“You, me. You know what I mean,” she huffed. “They gonna order a dadblamed magazine.”
A few days later, Granny had not one but three magazines orders to help me meet my goal.
“How did you do that, Granny?” I asked.
“None of your business,” she said. “But you got your quota.”
Now, if you thought Granny could be hard-nosed when it came to fundraisers, she was just as bad with other gifts.
After my child was born, Granny stayed with me two weeks. One of those weeks was to help me rest and get used to having a baby at home.
The second was to make sure some social proprietaries were followed.
I caught her on the phone asking Mama if anything had been brought by her house.
A few moments later, she made another call.
“This is Helen, how are you doing?” I heard her begin. “I wanted to call and let you know my great-grandson had been born! Oh, you know? I didn’t think you had heard; you hadn’t acknowledged it yet.”
“Granny,” I shook my head, realizing what the old gal was doing. “Quit dunning people for gifts. I don’t care about that stuff.”
“Let me tell you something, that woman’s daughter got married about four or five times and each time I got her a crockpot because I was invited to every one of her wedding showers.
“When she had all them young’uns she had, I was invited to every baby shower.You can only sit through those stupid shower games so many times, so I didn’t go to all of them, but I got her a gift. Multiply all them weddings by all them children, and she’s got plenty of gifts outta me. She can get you a cussed pack of Pampers and a spit up cloth or two.”
Shortly after Granny arrived home, a gift had been delivered. She called to let me know.
“Go ahead and write that thank you,” she ordered. “Do you need the address?”
“I haven’t even gotten it personally,” I protested.
“Don’t you worry about that,” she said. “You show them that you’ve got some proper home-training and send that thank you on out, ya hear me?”
I sighed but did as I was told. I was too scared of the Redhead Prime not to do it.
Granny remembered who sent flowers at funerals, who called when she was sick, and who remembered her birthday.
She tallied it all in her head, never forgetting the tiniest infraction.
“Granny never forgot what someone did or didn’t do,” I commented to Mama one day. “It was almost frightening. She could be quite a little taskmaster, couldn’t she?”
Mama agreed. “She had her own little way of keeping score.”
“But Mama, you know that’s not right. You give something because you want to — that’s what makes it a gift. You shouldn’t feel pressured to give something.”
“I know that,” Mama said. “But, let me tell you something, Granny was a firm believer in following those social protocols and if someone had no problem inviting her to their child’s shower — even when she didn’t know their child personally — you better believe she expected a gift from them for you.”
Neither of us thought it was proper, but we knew Granny did it out of some form of love tracking. She wanted us to be acknowledged in whatever we way we could be.
She just didn’t want us to forget the thank you card when we were.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.