Growing up, I would hear the adults around me share their words of wisdom. This was their insight to a happy and healthy life.
I was told, it’s not over until the fat lady sings. Every overweight person I passed on the street, I smiled and waited for them to break out in song. My second grade teacher called my father and told him that I was a very rude child. When handed in my paper, I told her she must be a wonderful singer since she was so fat. I still remember her face and how angry she got.
As an adult, I realize how silly some of the sayings were. No one ever broke their mother’s back by stepping on a crack. How many times did I throw salt over my left shoulder when I spilled it? When you dream of a death you hear of a birth was one that I heard later in my childhood.
As I matured to a young adult and was preparing for marriage, the quotes got even more frightening. My aunt told me that there are “things a wife has to do” to keep her husband happy. For years, I thought she was referring to cooking and cleaning. I will refrain from the other - let’s just say a large proportion of the population didn’t go blind.
The realization that these sayings were going to have a terrible effect on me came fast and hard. I told a friend I would be late for our lunch date because I had to vacuum my house. This was in case the house caught on fire and the fireman had to come in, I didn’t want them to think I was messy. She assured me that if my house was on fire, the last thing the fireman would be concerned with was a messy home.
When I was taught to sort the laundry, I was told never ever put the dark cloths in with the whites. Was there a laundry police that I was unaware of? How hard would it have been to just explain that the colors would run. Instead, a mystical fear of laundry still haunts me when I'm sorting the cloths.
With my ethnic background, there were things that I still wonder why we did them. Make the sign of the cross as you drive past a Catholic Church, all good Italians did this. Why? Is this the only way God gets the energy needed to continue his work at that church?
My all time favorite always happened at the holidays or when our extended family got together. If someone mentioned the name of a relative who died, you had to say “God rest her/his soul." Were they floating in limbo waiting for their soul to be blessed?
Makes you wonder why our generation has so many issues and how we survived. It was dealing with those sayings that made us stronger and more independent. Our parents say things like, “In our days, we never needed therapy." No, they would just instill their fears on those around them.
What words of wisdom were passed on to you?