Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Ann Cannon: Getting ‘Lined Up’ through the generations

By Ann Cannon

| Tribune Columnist

First Published Aug 11 2014 02:04 pm • Last Updated Aug 12 2014 08:55 pm

Whenever my mom and I have a conversation, it usually goes something like this.

MOM: Hey.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

ME: Hey.

MOM: What are you doing today?

ME: Trying to get lined up. What are you doing today?

MOM: Oh, you know. Trying to get lined up, too.

In this case, "lined up" does not mean "going out on a blind date." Trust me. Both my mother and I are way past the blind date stage of our lives.

No. "Lined up" is another way the women in our family have of saying, "I’m trying to get myself organized, dammit!" It’s something my mother’s grandmother used to say all the time whenever people asked her what she was doing. Apparently my great-grandmother spent her entire adult life trying to get organized.

That is, when she wasn’t busy shooting something.

My great-grandmother left her home in the Midwest as a young woman, worked for the railroads in Ogden and eventually landed in Wyoming. Along the way she shed a husband and her real name — then acquired a new husband and a new name (she called herself Patti) that she liked better than the old one (Martha). She also scared up a fishing rod and a shotgun and became the acting game warden of Sublette County. From all reports she was crazy smart, crazy generous, crazy fun to be around, crazy messy.


story continues below
story continues below

And yeah. Probably just a little plain old crazy, too.

When I knew my great-grandmother she’d settled down into deep old age. She was white-haired and frail as sparrow bones. Grandma Pat remained eager to laugh at a good story when people visited but spent most of her days sitting quiet. I only know my vivid great-grandmother through family stories and those words of hers that we still quote.

I’m trying to get lined up.

Whenever I say them, I feel connected to her, just like I feel connected to the owner of the old 8th Avenue Market, Bill Spencer, whenever my friends and I quote him. Which we do. Often. Bill said a lot of memorable things during his long lifetime, but my favorite was his response whenever you told him that someone had died.

"Hell," he’d say, "they’re lucky to be out of this mess."

The funny thing about this — besides the fact that it’s just funny — is that Bill was a guy who was full of positive energy. He worked from sunup to sundown six days a week until the very end — stocking shelves, cutting meat behind the butcher’s counter, telling you how to cook it, waiting on customers, asking those customers about their kids and siblings, parents and grandparents. And then he’d tell you about his family, too — especially the grandchildren who were learning remarkable things about computers in their school.

I’ll sometimes quote my friend Marilyn, too. Marilyn had a big, big personality. She loved huge silver rings! Old movies! Antique dolls and teddy bears! Barbra Streisand! Poodles! Quilts! And she started most of what she said with one of these two phrases: "The thing of it is (fill in the blank)" or "I never in my whole life (also fill in the blank)." I wish I could hear her great gravelly voice say either of those things just one more time.

The words we speak. They operate like connective tissues when you think about it.

Joining generations.

Keeping the people we miss at our sides for just a little longer.

Ann Cannon can be reached at acannon@sltrib.com



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.