Story # 53: Family Sayins’ I Grew Up With
I just sent a sympathy card to a friend. The heart-felt words suggested were “Memory of those we love stays in our hearts forever.” So true!
I have lots of memories of those I love that are now in heaven. One way I remember them is when some situation leads me to hear one of their often used “sayins’” echo in my head.
So I thought it would be fun to share some of the sayins’ I grew up with. These sayins’, some going back over 60 years, have frequently given me wisdom, a good laugh or a groan.
After creating my list, I asked my 3 sisters for help remembering even more, and they came through! Thank you Deb, Elizabeth and Gege!
Words of Wisdom From Mom, Dad, and Grandparents, as remembered by one or more of us (I’ve added clarification in parentheses following phrases where the language has either grown outdated or is a bit too parochial.)
Pa Guy, my paternal grandfather; born: 10/13/1899, died: 11/22/1982
- A place for everything, and everything in its place.
- Children should be seen and not heard.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Grandma Trick, my paternal grandmother; born: 1/10/1905, died: 01/05/1984
- Gimme some sugar (Give me some kisses!)
- Let me squeeze your neck! (Let me hug you)
- I could just eat you up! (You are so cute)
- I’m going to put a book on your head to stop you growing.
- I’ve got a bone in my leg. (Let me rest, I’m tired.)
Grandma Hall, my maternal grandmother; born: 11/16/1897, died: 06/13/1986
- Well, That’s nice.
- Lands Sake!
- Well I’ll be! (I’m amazed!)
Mom; born: 12/17/1929, died: 10/31/2003
- “Good Lord Willing and the Creeks Don’t Rise.” (I’ll plan on going to that appointment unless something major comes up.)
- You look like death warmed over.
- Who do you think you are, Lady Astor on her pet horse? (The beginning of the phrase says it all, nailed down by the topical reference. In this case, Lady Astor was an American woman who married into the extremely wealthy British Astors; later elected the first woman in Parliament after her husband resigned to join the House of Lords.)
- If wishes were horses all beggars would ride.
- Can’t never did a thing.
- Pretty is as pretty does.
Dad; born: 09/28/1927, died: 12/24/1995
- Pppppoor pppppitiful ppppossum in the paw paw patch standing in the corner bellerin’ for buttermilk. (Look at you, feeling so sorry for yourself)
- He’s (or you’re) cruisin’ for a bruisin’. (His (or your) actions will lead to painful consequences)
- It’s a tough row to hoe. (farming/gardening reference for a difficult task)
- Be glad when you pay taxes because it means you’re making money.
- Don’t Poor-mouth (“Poor-mouthing” means going around talking about how much money you don’t have)
- To be enthusiastic you have to act enthusiastic! To act enthusiastic you have to be enthusiastic!
- Don’t act so put upon! (Quit feeling sorry for yourself)
- You’re payin’ for your raisin’. (Your kids are acting just like you!)
- There are two things you can’t avoid ….. death and taxes
- Keep your mouth shut! (Depending upon context, this could mean: Listen and learn; Don’t interrupt; Think before you speak.)
- Dream big — it doesn’t cost any more.
- When impatient for a special day to arrive and we’d say “I wish it were here”, he’d say, “Don’t wish your life away — life is short enough.”
- You’re getting too big for your britches! (It means over confident, thinking you know more than you do.)
These are such fun and happy memories!
I think we should make our own list. Think about your sayings that maybe one day your children or younger relatives will share. I can hear it now — “Remember what Auntie Donna would always say?”
Please tell me what your favorite sayings are. I’ll add to mine and share it in a future blog.
I can’t wait to see your favorite “sayins’”!
LESSON LEARNED: When we hear someone often repeat a favorite phrase, we need to try and hear what they are really saying, instead of blowing it off as “there they go again.”
LESSON LEARNED: Even if a saying doesn’t particularly make sense to us, it still helps you learn about the one who says it. Ask yourself why they think it is worth repeating.
LESSON LEARNED: Age grows wisdom. Parental sayings that only made us roll our eyes when we were young often bring a smile of understanding today.
LESSONS LEARNED: Phrases that made perfect sense years ago today would only leave a child today saying “Huh?” It’s the loved one’s memory that is precious, not the language.
Interested in learning ASL? See my “ASL Word Of The Day” at:
Interested in learning Cued Speech? See my “Cued Speech Word Of The Day” at:
Have a good week!
— Donna Gateley