Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

You Never Know


For years, my sister Laura and her partner Erma worked at a residential treatment facility with children whose behavior made it impossible for them to be educated in a traditional setting. After nine months to a year of behavior modification (and mandatory parent participation), the children were mainstreamed to their conventional schools.

Cursing was minor compared to other offenses endured by the staff at Central Kentucky Re-Ed. Replacing the “F” word with “Grandma Fletcher” was sanctified.

Example: “Get the Grandma Fletcher out of my Grandma Fletchering face, you Grandma Fletchering Grandma Fletcher.”

My sister and Erma are retired now. Took the “early”.  Laura has no children except for the cats, Maggie and Oscar.

While maintaining a strict, conduct-governing system (the Grandma Fletcher rule) for my grown children and for me during visits and vacations, Laura and Erma allow Maggie and Oscar to live outside the law. Undisciplined rascals these felines are with a playground that includes kitchen countertops and the dining table.

Last year, The Sisterhood (Oscar hadn’t joined the jumble yet) spent three weeks in Georgia. I opened a bottle of olive oil to make a salad one evening and then noticed that Maggie was sitting in the salad bowl.

“Oh, isn’t that precious?”

“Oh, isn’t that precious?” Laura says this often to Erma. And they make eye contact in radiant appreciation, exactly the way my husband Charles and I did, transmitting recognition to each other that our children had said or done something clearly indicative of Grandma Fletchering genius.

Here’s just one illustration of son H’s brilliance: “Mom, what’s the word you think of when you have to substitute Grandma Fletcher, the word you think when you hear Grandma Fletcher?”

“You’re so Grandma Fletcherin’ right,” I told this particular prodigy and then, I gasped with longing for his father, for that shared acknowledgment of the gift we presented one another. And not seeing those blue eyes, I looked to H’s brother, my other Grandma Fletchering phenomenon. Each of these young men once graced the playground of my womb and later dined at my breasts as I held their soft baby bodies and buried my face in their innocence. These two were loved and nurtured, so indulged, that either could have or could not have been enrolled in a residential treatment program for “problem” children somewhere during elementary, middle, or high school.

You never Grandma Fletchering know.

Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore. Email:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail:

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”