Monday, March 21, 2011


A few years back I found myself embroiled in a heated argument with my daughters. Today, I can no longer recall what our disagreement was about, or what they said during that argument which caused me to adopt one of the phrases that my mother had, so often, said to me as a child, but that is exactly what happened.  Whatever was said, left me both incredulous and annoyed, and, so, just as my mother had done to me, I asked them all if they were out of their gourds.  I do remember that they asked me to repeat myself, and I did so, with great exasperation.
"Are you girls OUT OF YOUR GOURDS????" I said, and then stomped out of the room.
Later that day I could hear giggling, and, when I inquired as to what they were laughing at, I discovered it was the phrase that I had used.
"What exactly does that mean?" they asked. "Is that like saying, are you crazy or something?"
"Yes, of course." I answered, although now I, too, was amused   I thought about it for a minute, and then realized that even I couldn't explain the origin of the expression.  It was just something my mother would say to us as children, and somehow it had withstood the test of time.  The phrase had wormed its way in from my mother's generation into my own, AND, I am delighted to say, has now found a place for itself in  the vocabulary of a third generation.  I find myself hoping that it makes its way down through many more generations to come, for that will mean that a little piece of my mother's spirit will always live on in our family, even when she, herself, is no longer with us.
I think that every family has phrases like that.  I remember when I first married my husband and he asked me if I needed him to, "pass the sweeper."
After ascertaining that a "sweeper" was, indeed, a vacuum, I chuckled to myself and then said, "Pass the sweeper?  I don't think so...isn't that painful?"   For whatever reason, that expression didn't have much of a shelf life, and now I am the only person whoever repeats it... and then only for purposes of my own amusement.
There were many other sayings though; some pearls of wisdom and some just inexplicable, that my husband and I  brought along with us, on our journey from children to adults.  They often popped out when we least expected them, but, once said, became as familiar to our children as they had been to ourselves.  Some are the wise old sayings that everyone uses, while others are definitely unique to each of our own  families. Whenever I hear one of my children use them though, I am, at once, both amused and pleased to know that they have become part of their vernacular.
Hearing them say things such as, "The secret of success is to know when to quit", or "Swearing just reflects a person's limited vocabulary," will always remind me of my own mother, while, "Put on a, ( please insert appropriate item of clothing such as, hat, coat or socks), or you will catch your death of cold" and "close the light," will always remind me of Dave's.  My family has added a few of our own words to the growing list, over the years as well.  The term, "little," which I first used instead of the child's name when speaking about one of my preschoolers, has now become a regular term of endearment whenever one of us are referring to any small child, in general. (For example, "I saw the cutest little today when I was shopping.")  My daughter, Jamie, also made a great contribution a few years back with her; "Two rudes don't make a polite," which we all now utilize from time to time.
There is something very comforting about hearing these old familiar sayings from our childhoods, as well as the more recent ones that we have added to the list.  To me, they all reflect a link back to the loving family that they originated with...and they will carry, forever within them, the memories of the time we shared together; tucked safely inside each and every one of the words.


  1. "The greatest plans of mice and men always go astray". My kids just look mat me like i am nuts. Or "that's lik the pot calling the kettle black". Once again it is "what?".

  2. i remember you telling me that story fact that conversation was the inspiration for the post!

  3. Once again Amy, a wonderful memory. Even more fun when someone says them backwards. My aunt meant to say "if the shoe fits, wear it" She SAID "if the flu shits ,wear it". Everyone just looked at her , puzzled of course. I remember my grandmother saying "I love you to pieces" which sounded scary at the time. When you are a child everything is literal . Now I am sitting here trying to remember some other ones!!!!!!!!

  4. NOw you are curious . Its Janet. Had to post an address and used my goggle acocunt which shows my real first name. Like both names , but as a kid always called Janet or Jannie !!!! Didnt want you to go thru the trouble or trying to figure it out.

  5. i was curious!!!!!!!! i told all my family about how this stella person had a hilarious story about her mother getting her foot impaled by a catfish!!! :)

  6. How about: "Even a fish wouldn't get into
    trouble if it kept its mouth shut".
    or..."Don't say in a person's absence, what you
    wouldn't say in his presence."
    I could go on and on......
    Love, Barbara