Sunday, September 8th, 2019 is Grandparents Day this year. Bet you didn’t even know we have one of those did you? It certainly isn’t celebrated like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. But it should be. Grandparents are definitely underrated.
I learned a lot in college. I learned how to dissect emotions and thinking processes and diagram dysfunctional family systems. I learned about normal and abnormal psychology and read a lot of excellent books on relationships and God’s plans for us. If I had never had any of that, I would have still been on the right road because of my grandmother. She was the delight of my life, the one I knew loved me unconditionally and the one member of my family I still miss today, 40 years after her death.
Granny was my first counselor. She had a way of summing up life’s issues in a phrase. So I would like to share my top “grannyisms” with you. Some of these she made up and some she learned them from others, but they all had a profound effect on me. Like most things, I didn’t know the profundity of her words at the time but now I realize that all I ever needed to know I learned from her.
There’s something you should know about my grandmother. She was as country as she could be and had a very limited primary education. She could barely read and write but she could decipher most anything. She described herself as “poor as a country snake”. Not sure the difference between the income level of a country snake versus a city snake but it somehow meant she didn’t have much money. Her syntax and sentence structure was abominable and definitely screamed lower Alabama. She dipped snuff but proclaimed every day how she regretted ever starting that. She was absolutely correct when she claimed it was the most disgusting habit anyone could make for themselves.
She lived in a small frame house she and granddaddy built…and they weren’t builders. There was no insulation or underpinning. It was often colder inside than outside except for the kitchen with the coal burning stove. She lived simply but well.
On critical thinking, she told me:
- “Use your head for something besides a hat rack.”
- “He acts like he ain’t got the sense God gave a billygoat.”
- “ I doubt she can think her way out of a paper bag.”
- “Cain’t” never could do anything. I don’t ever want to hear you say you cain’t do something.”
On avoiding bad habits:
- “Smokin’ won’t send you to hell but it sure will make you smell like you been there.”
- “If you get in trouble I’ll help you any way I can, but if you do something you know you ain’t supposed to do, you on your own. Don’t be callin’ me to bail you out.”
- That ain’t for you to know.
- Don’t go stickin’ your nose where it don’t belong
- “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” Now that’s an old saying. In the old days, if someone was buying a horse, they would look at its teeth to determine its age and condition. The saying means that if someone gives you something that didn’t cost you anything, don’t scrutinize it. Just appreciate the gift and the giver.
- “Worryin’ ain’t gonna change nothin’. You let the good Lord worry about that.” She didn’t make that one up. She borrowed it from Jesus.
Matthew 6:25-34 New International Version (NIV) “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
- You cain’t fix stupid.
- If he was any slower, he’d be dead.
- That boy’s dumb as a doorknob.
- I believe somebody dropped him on his head when he was little.
- You talk like a tree fell on you.
- Pretty is as pretty does.
- Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes all the way to the bone.
- If your friend jumped off a cliff, would you jump off too?
On Financial Advise
- Don’t count your chickens before they hatch
On Family Traits
- The nut don’t fall far from the tree and its sister phrase… The apple don’t fall far from the tree.
- That’s where the Indian shot you (Don’t you know that’s how we all got bellybuttons?)
- That’s where the cow licked you (For those with swirls in your hair at your scalp line)
- If you can’t say something nice about someone , don’t say anything at all.
My favorite when I’m feeling negative and beyond frustrated with someone:
- “She ain’t worth the bullet it would take to kill her.” Enough said about that one, I guess. Actually, Granny loved the Lord and valued people, had a ton of patience and I didn’t hear this often, but it sure resonated with me when I did!
And finally, my favorite when I’m on a good path and thinking positively:
- “Be true to yourself.” As a child, teen, and young adult I didn’t know what this meant. I was 29 years old when Granny passed away, but it was her strongest message to me. I have learned to value myself over the years since she’s been gone.
In these days of political correctness, it’s good to remember the good ole days when people said what they thought, made good their promises, delivered on their threats, and didn’t worry about somebody’s lawyer, when the crime rate was down because law abiding citizens owned guns and weren’t afraid to use it to protect themselves. And when a run-on sentence could cover a whole paragraph and somehow it seemed right.
Thank you, Granny, for some valuable life lessons that I didn’t learn in a book. I learned the really important things at your knee and from your lips. I learned that love is an action verb. I remember being 3 years old and you rocking me to sleep in your lap. I remember fighting sleep because I didn’t want that moment to end.
I remember planting flowers with you and learning about dormancy and resurrection. And now I can see that principle in my life as it applies to my own spirit.
I remember you calling my brothers and cousins out when we misbehaved and you saying, “I ain’t gonna have it.”
My grandmother had 9 grandchildren and 2 greatgrandchildren when she died and she was loved immeasurably by all of us. That’s probably because each and every one of us knew we were loved immeasurably by her. It is because of her that I can risk loving others when they are unlovable.
If you are a grandparent, know that you are God’s gift to your grandchildren. Take every opportunity to enjoy them and to speak into them words of wisdom. You will be remembered years after you are enjoying heaven. They will remember how you made them feel.
If you are a grandchild and you are fortunate enough to still have your grandparents with you, CALL THEM! It will do you good and it will make their day. Don’t text them. They want to hear your voice.
I miss my Granny. Not only because she spoiled me rotten, but because she taught me how to live. I don’t remember ever sitting down with her and getting a lecture or advice, per se. What I do remember is a lot of one-liner comments. Looking back, those were sermons in themselves. Yep, Granny taught me a lot of life’s lessons in very few words. In today’s world, we a have a pill for everything… and we are quick to swallow it. It seems to me people have changed for the worse over the years, until we have a label for every bad behavior possible. Personal accountability seems to be a lost practice. We take our children to counselors and psychiatrists to figure out what’s wrong with them. We put them on medication to keep them from experiencing anxiety or guilt. Maybe the problem lies within us, the parents and grandparents because we don’t teach them how to manage their emotions.
Because of the selfishness and greed of some parents, grandparents have been cut out of their children’s lives. What an absolute travesty! The wisdom of the aged cannot be replaced. There is nothing that can replace the memories of a grandparent’s love, affection and wisdom. If they aren’t passed along through oral stories and practice, family traditions and values die out when the older generation passes away. I hope you are able to spend some time with your grandparent on September 8th., but if you aren’t, hug someone else’s grandparent and tell them you appreciate them.
Happy Grandparents’ Day to all of you.