Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal


Susie Dunham

There’s more than one way to become a grandparent.

Bossman and I moved to the Nashville area over three years ago, never dreaming this would be where we’d discover our granddaughter. We’re damn Yankees who fell in love with a babe born in Tennessee.

Sweetie was only three when she and her mom, who’s from Alabama, came into our empty-nested lives. She called us Miss Susie and Mr. Bossman, which was so darn cute. During a visit about six months into the relationship, she decided she was going to give us new nicknames.

“I’m going to call Mr. Bossman…uh…Pappy!” she told us, her eyes lighting up like flares.


‘Pappy’ was beaming. Sweetie’s Mom was snickering. I nearly burst holding in the biggest guffaw never bellowed.

The new Pappy said, “Nobody, NObody else is allowed to call me that. Sweetie can, though.”
The beams of light shining from Pappy and Sweetie’s eyes were blinding.

Then the cherub looked at me. I waited expectantly to find out my dear new nickname. Finally, I was going to become a grandmother after years of fantasizing. This sweet child was picking the name herself. Even my imagination never came up with this scenario.
“And Miss Susie, I’m gonna call you…”

I waited; my face hurt I was smiling so hard.

“I’m gonna call you… Mammy!”

My smile cracked.

Pappy’s mouth hung agape.

Sweetie’s mom’s eyes peeled back like onions.

“Mammy? Are you sure that’s what you want to call Miss Susie?” the child’s confused mother asked with a giggle.

“Yup! Mammy. Mammy and Pappy! That’s their new nicknames.”

The child hugged us.

‘Pappy’ was sounding better to me. He was beaming while stifling laughter.

“Sweetie, are you sure you want to call me Mammy? Isn’t there another name you’d like to call Miss Susie, like…Grandma, or Granny or Grammy?”

I’d never pictured myself as the Mammy-type, whatever that might be. I just knew that it wasn’t a good fit. I was young. I was blonde. I was born in New York.

The child and her mother had a quick, whispered conversation.

“Okay. I’ll call you…”

We waited.

Her big blue eyes rolled side to side searching…

And waited.

The eyes flashed!


Warm air stirred as three adults let out kept breaths.

“Oh! Nana is perfect, Sweetie. Just perfect.”

“Yup. Nana. That’s it. You’re Nana and Pappy.”

Beams of light and choruses of angels were in the living room at that moment. So be it. We are honorary grandparents. I’m a Nana and a darn good one, too. And Pappy’s the best grandfather in the world. Just ask him.

Oh, and you can ask Sweetie. She’ll tell you the same thing.

Grandchildren sometimes materialize right in your living room.


Susie Dunham says she’s a Yankee with a southern soul. She’s been writing fiction since she was a schoolgirl, which was when she discovered the creative side of her brain could get her out of scholarly corners. It wasn’t until she turned 50 that she decided it was time to start taking her humor and her writing seriously. Since then, Susie has been featured in the online literary magazine Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal, has edited and written a private newsletter, and currently writes a humor column called All I’m Sayin’ Is… featured in the Grassland Gazette near Nashville, Tennessee. Susie loves being part of her Writers In CAPS group and is a proud member of the Williamson County Council for the Written Word. She and her newly retired husband live in Franklin, Tennessee.

© Susie Dunham

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012