Tessa’s grandmother Lucille – known to everyone as Nonnie – has been a regular fixture in Tessa’s family lore for all 88 of her years. She came from very untrusting German stock in the Hill Country of Texas, making her a bundle of neuroses that is as hilarious as it is endearing. I think Tessa credits Nonnie with a good deal of her sanity, and her plaintive aphorisms are all over Five Wives, Three Secretaries and Me.
Sandy, Nonnie and baby Tessa, 1969
One of Nonnie’s most famous quotes was delivered mid-rant to Tessa and Jason at some point ten years ago, when she summed up her entire philosophy about the vicissitudes of her fellow man: “well, you know, you don’t want to get too mixed up with people…”
We thought that was one of the best things to spring out of her brain, and she and I quote it whenever some insane assholes are threatening to take over our lives. Tessa also told the always-excellent Virginia Heffernan, who managed to put it into a wonderful article she wrote about the passing of Johnny Carson in yesterday’s New York Times.
It may have taken almost a century, and Nonnie – stuck at the nursing home in Huntsville, Texas – may not fully grasp it, but Lucille Tessman finally got herself into the New York Times. And that, my friends, is cause for celebration.
Nonnie, Sandy, Tessa in 2003