A: Her wisdom is best understood by her life example. Here’s an abbreviated version of something I wrote for her hometown paper in Dublin.
Most of you never knew her real name. You knew her as "Grandma." Or "Team Grandma" if you were involved with East Laurens baseball in the early 2000s. This 92-pound powerhouse will go down as the most enthusiastic and loud fan in Falcon history.
Her name was Sybil Hannon and her impact reached far beyond the dugout. She lifted the lives of countless strangers through extraordinary acts of kindness and generosity. There are so many stories of her helping the down and out that this newspaper couldn’t contain them all. In the interest of space and ink, I’ll share just one.
Mother is at a local grocery store and notices the gentleman ahead of her doesn’t have enough money for essential food. Seeing he’s at wit’s end, she waits until he leaves the store and then pays for his groceries. Noticing the kinds of items he needs, she goes down the aisles and fills up her cart with additional goods for his family. Hannon understands being broke. In her first 40 years she was broke, too. She also appreciates the beauty in the broken. This man was both broke and broken. She knows what to do: put love into action.
With more than $200 worth of food loaded into her car, she goes to the man’s house (someone in the store tipped her off to the address). Rolling her oxygen tank behind her, she slowly makes her way to his front door.
After several knocks, the man finally cracks open the door just wide enough to see who was on his stoop. “What do you want? Whatever it is, I can’t afford it, been out of work for over a year. Go away.”
“Sir, I don’t want a thing other than to tell you that I have a car full of groceries for you.”
“Yeah, right, lady. This must be some kind of scam.”
At this point his wife comes to the door.
“Ma’am, I’m trying to explain to your husband that I have a gift for your family in my car," said Hannon. "I’m not physically able to get the groceries out, but y’all are welcome to go and get the bags out of the car. And I’ll be out of your way.”
The woman is baffled. “I just don’t understand what you’re telling us. People don’t do this for folks these days. What’s the catch?”
Mother has the perfect answer. “There’s no catch, honey. Let’s just say God sent me.”
She didn’t stop there. Hannon returned to the grocery store, talked with the manager, and procured a job for the man. Returning to his home, she told him the good news and instructed him to report to work the next morning. The man wept, and his wife and children joined him on the stoop to thank the unnamed stranger who had just done so much for them. A lot of us show occasional kindness to others, but she did it as often as we check Facebook.
Mother’s contradictions were fascinating. Despite having no use for religion, she was a one-woman ministry. She bought school clothes and supplies for children she never met, beautified prison grounds with flowers and always encouraged the hurting. Working hands meant more to her than praying mouths.
Never claiming to be a saint, she was fierce, sassy and pulled no punches. She would tell it like it is and then fudge the facts in the same breath. This only made her more endearing.
Hannon had a poet's heart and took in strays of all kinds. Years ago she was named humane citizen of the year for her support of the Laurens County Humane Society. A master gardener, Hannon believed one was closest to heaven when in a garden. She planted many seeds.
Mother passed away on July 9 from COPD. Her legacy burns bright in those she loved. In her case that would include most of humanity.
In the words of a newspaper article about her in 2005, “This grandma has enough love to give to the entire team.”
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of “The Cracker Queen — A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life” and a keynote speaker. Southern Living has named her “the funniest woman in Georgia.” See more at www.thecrackerqueen.com.