I originally wrote this when my Aub was away for a few days on 7/21/2008. I can only imagine how precious the Hey Girl will be in a few months, when she goes off to college. As we prepare for her graduation tomorrow night, I am waxing reminiscent. I realize that since I’ve written this, “Hey Girl” has been made popular by the Ryan Gosling meme, but for me, it will always make me think of Granny. And my girls.
My Granny holds a special place in my heart and memory. I still bake “her” coconut cake on her birthday every year that I have been able to. I think of her often and when I realize that she’s been gone over ten years, it takes my breath away. She was just as tough on us as she was loving, but that didn’t matter. Granny was Granny and always will be. I love my childhood memories of visiting her, but my most favorite ones are when I visited as a young adult, just the two of us, sitting and whiling away the time. We had serious talks, like when we both got rather vehement about the town’s Christmas decorations being put up before Thanksgiving could even be celebrated. Boy, that got her dander up. And mine too—so much so that I wrote a letter to the editor (at her goading, if memory serves). I think it tickled her. At least it got a smile out of her .
When I’d go to her door off the carport at her house in town—that’s what it will always be for me—her house “in town,” because, as we all know, Granny’s house is the one in the country—out on the farm at the end of that long dirt road I learned to ride my bike on. No matter whose name is on the title—it’s hers. But I digress. When I’d go to the door and knock—doorbells are for company (don’t knock on my door if you don’t know me)—I’d peek in and see her ambling over. In the beginning on her own, and later with her walker. She’d smile and I would too. I don’t know if she was always glad to see me—a new bride who just was seeking company in one of the places she considered home—but she never made me feel less than special on those visits. The first words that came from her were, “Hey girl.” I’m telling you it warmed the cockles of my heart. (Cockles? Really? Yep, look it up—it’s the fourth of fifth definition of the word.) I can still hear her voice, “Hey girl.” And the smile that accompanied the heartwarming melody went all the way up to her beautiful brown eyes. In that moment, I was home. We’d sit and talk and solve the world’s troubles in those times. I often would make her tell me over and over who so and so took after or how we were related to so and so. Later when she was bedridden and not doing too good, I’d knock and go in. When she’d see me, she’d still smile and so would I—“Hey girl.”
Now I know I’m not the only one she’d say that to, but the important thing is that when she said it, you were the only one. A term of endearment. That’s what it became for me, and I’m just starting to appreciate it.
Today I was on the road and missed a call from my treasured friend who was volunteering out in the heat for her son’s ball team. I quickly called her from my cell when I got her message. When she answered, obviously after glancing at caller ID, she answered, “Hey girl.” It took me back. Yes, it’s a term of endearment. I’ve said it myself without even realizing it. But only to my truest of true, “bosom” friends as they were once called. I say it in love and respect. It’s not something I say unless I know you and really care about you. You have to earn your “hey girl” with me. I know that my precious friend had no way of knowing how much those two words touched me, but in that moment I was home, safe, and comforted in the warmth of our friendship.
My soon to be teenager has been gone for three days now for a wonderful mini-vacation with great friends from our overseas tour. I’ve called two nights in a row and she’s been out having the time of her life. We’ve all missed her. Her little one year old brother has been more vocal than he’s ever been, walking around tonight, hollering his nickname for her “Baba! BA-BA!!!!!” I thought when she left, Well, maybe she’ll come home and appreciate me a little more. I think the opposite may happen. She has a gift that she shares with us, her family, and that is missed. I’m thrilled that she is where she is, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if, when I pick her up at the end of the week, the first words out of my mouth are, “Hey girl.”