Slight in stature, standing shy of five foot but a sharper tongue and more piercing eyes none knew other than my great grandmother named "Mammy". She was the mother to my mother's father. And was known as Mammy to all. A snuff dipper and a snuff spitter. A more rank and rancid smell I've never known.
I remember her only through a child's eyes from the age five until she died when I was nine. Memories which still fester.
Until I grew up which was only a few years ago, I was resigned to the fact that she did not like me much less have a love for me. Maybe she did and maybe she didn't but I felt she loved my little brother Freddy more. She rocked and crooned to him from her old smelly rocker that he was a good little boy. Mammy's good little boy. She kissed him too and I remember watching to see if the ever present brown streaks of both sides of her mouth from the snuff would rub off on him, but they didn't.
Mammy's boy got to sleep in his own little bed and his sister had to sleep with Mammy. I hated bedtimes and hated waking up even more. She smelled of snuff and I smelled of pee when morning came. Pee and wet feathers. The bed was old and big and the mattress stuffed with goose feathers, probably chicken feathers too. The place in the mattress that held her tiny old body was a perfectly formed mold of Mammy's backside. She was either too lazy or simply unable to get up at night and go to the toilet and she'd call for Anne, her daughter to come get her. Most nights Anne did not hear her so Mammy did the only thing she could.
The soap and hot water scrubbings took the smell from my skin but to this day have been unable to remove the smells from my soul. I hated going to school for fear the kids would turn their noses up to me. Of course they did that anyway, but now I believe it was because they saw me as a snotty kid which probably came from my aloof and fearful nature. Things so complicated as youngins and so understood as we age.
I also hated her for loving only Freddie. The meaner I was to her the more she loved him and the more she loved him the meaner I was to her. I came home from school one day and was told she had died. I would soon have a bed of my own.
Sometimes today I wish she was here. Maybe I could hold her in my rocker and comb her long thin white hair. I would croon to her "My Mammy".
We could eat vanilla ice cream and Hershey bars which she loved and I wouldn't force Cod Liver Oil down her throat like she did to me. Heck, I wouldn't even pee on her at night. She'd be about a hundred and thirty now. I think she might like me today.