For critical answers, Southerners always turn to She Who Knows All.

By Valerie Fraser Luesse
September 26, 2018
For critical answers, Southerners always turn to She Who Knows All.
| Credit: GraphicaArtis/Getty Images

You want to know how to change a flat tire? Sure, Dad can handle that. How to find online deals on your game day attire? Your older sister—or maybe your younger one—is your go-to. But for life's truly burning questions—like where Great Aunt Sissy's third cousin's second husband is buried—there is one source and one source only: Mama.

Want answers to the following questions? Just ask your mother. (We've already asked ours.)


  • 1. Does it REALLY matter how I fold a fitted sheet?
  • 2. What was that stuff you used to call "bluing"?
  • 3. How do you fold your towels so they look like a department store display?
  • 4. Why did my pink hydrangea turn blue?


  • 5. Why won't the crust stay on my fried chicken?
  • 6. Can you teach me how to flute a pie crust?
  • 7. Will you give me your pound cake recipe? (She will, but only if you promise to follow it EXACTLY.)
  • 8. How do you can green beans, tomatoes, pickles . . .?
  • 9. Would you show me how to make your famous [FILL IN DISH HERE]?
  • 10. Can you freeze potato salad? Because it would be great if you could go ahead and make lots and lots of yours so we can still enjoy it when . . . you know . . .
  • 11. Will you teach me how to bake your red velvet cake? I promise to pay attention this time.


  • 12. Will you teach me how to make a slipcover?
  • 13. Will you teach me how to quilt?
  • 14. Will you teach me how to cross-stitch?
  • 15. Will you teach me how to make drapes?
  • 16. Will you teach me how to hem a skirt?


  • 17. How did you and Daddy get together?
  • 18. Why the heck couldn't I be an only child?
  • 19. Why on earth did you have just one child?
  • 20. Why did you have another boy/girl?
  • 21. How did you put up with me when I was a teenager?
  • 22. Who are all these unnamed people in our family albums?
  • 23. Will you tell me your secret for being happy no matter what?
  • 24. How did you ever finish a college degree with all of us kids running around?
  • 25. Would you do it all again?


It doesn't take these junior Elizabeth Ardens long to figure it out: Mom is beautiful just the way she is. (But she's still not heading to Publix without her lipstick.)