What kinds of things do Momma and Grandma Sands talk about in The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963?Why does Kenny think he has interrupted something important between Grandma Sands and Momma?
Momma and Grandma Sands haven't seen each other for a very long time, so when they are finally reunited, they have a lot of catching up to do. Momma has been away from Birmingham for so long, it isn't anything like what she remembers, so she is full of questions like, "How long's this been like that"' and "When did that happen?" Grandma Sands "crack(s) up" at all the things Momma doesn't remember, and tries to fill her in. They get to talking so much that Momma lapses back into a thick "Southern style of talking", and the children, who are listening, can only understand "half of the things that they (say)".
Momma and Grandma Sands talk about people Momma used to know, like Calla Lily Lincoln. In Kenny's words, they talk
"about how much trouble people (are) having with some white people down (there), who (has gotten) married to who, how many kids this one (has), how many times that one (has been) in jail, a bunch of boring junk like that".
Momma also asks Grandma Sands about herself, and her relationship with Mr. Robert. Momma is at first rather appalled that her mother is in a relationship with a man, but Grandma Sands makes it quite clear, without using a lot of words, that Grandpa Sands has been dead for "almost twenty years", and that Momma has no right to be critical of Grandma's relationship with Mr. Robert.
Kenny comes into the kitchen in the middle of Momma and Grandma Sands' conversation, and after the two women briefly stop talking to greet him, Kenny sits down with his breakfast, and Momma acts like he'd disappeared, resuming her conversation without missing a stride. The fact that Momma dismisses Kenny so completely to return to what she had been talking about with Grandma Sands makes him think that he has interrupted something important between them (Chapter 12).