Sunday, November 27, 2016

Words

A friend and I go to lunch and throughout our conversation, she says, "I remember when you said this," or "told me..." Each time I cringe, wondering what goofy opinion I espoused, or the embarrassing anecdote I might have shared. Who hasn't said at least a few silly things we wish had never been spoken?

But those said things follow us to the end of life. Both the things we said and the things said to us. I have an uncanny remembrance for uttered words, both serious and not, from my friends and acquaintances. Why they become indelible is hard to trace or determine.

"Deception is always a half-truth." We were in deep conversation while on a morning walk, Tam and me. She went on to explain why the aphorism was truth. It's why we can be deceived--because we hold on to the truth part and conveniently ignore the deception. A pure deception would never work, but a half deception does.

It's a funny thing how this phrase spoken twenty years ago, pops into my mind unexpectedly. I'll be teaching an unrelated concept, and her words will pop into my mind--inevitably they relate to the topic I'm teaching and I write it out on the board. Tam's wisdom keeps on traveling.

All seriousness aside, whenever I eat a crunchy cookie, I remember my neighbor Liz. For some unknown reason, she said to me one day, "I like soft cookies, except for a snickerdoodle. I like them to be hard, so I can dip them in a cold glass of milk."

One day I'm standing at my kitchen sink with a hard snickerdoodle in my left hand and a glass of milk in my right. When I dip the cookie, I hear Liz, I see her face, explaining the snickerdoodle eating habit, as if it were yesterday. The memory always enhances my cookie eating experiences.

Some of my father's common sayings pop into my mind when needed. When circumstances are rough, but not that rough, I hear Dad say, "It's not a murder trial," or if I do something stupid and on the verge of broadcasting the stupidity, I hear, "If you're going to be a sucker, be a quiet one." Each time I think about blessings, I hear Mom say, "We are so blessed." The words do not stand alone, but in my mind's eye, I see Dad's face or Mom's face and hear the tone in his and her voice.

Last night while playing cards with my children and son-in-laws, the girls were chatting incessantly. "Mindless chatter!" I called out to them--a frequent phrase used when gibberish filled the house or the car. Mindless chatter drove me mad!

I opened the Pandora's box for the resented litany of phrases so tied to their childhood. When they'd spend too much time watching TV, I'd brush past and dare them to make the "Big click."

Or if they complained about their nose, a bulging stomach, or aching legs, I was sure to respond with "Be thankful you have a nose, or a stomach, or legs to walk on, because there are people without."

And supposedly, I would regularly say,

"You're not hungry."

"You love brussels sprouts."

"No one likes donuts."

Their memories were like rubber bullets reminding me of how annoying a nagging mother can be. I joined with them in laughing at myself-- because, I understand that as important as the phrases are in their memories in forming a memory of who I am, I hope my actions, my love and devotion, speak louder than my words. Much louder.