Sunday, April 27, 2014

NOW WHAT?


There it was.  We were going someplace and out of my mouth came, “Okay, get your glad rags on and let’s go.” 

Of course it came from the deep recesses of my memory, which lately seem to be more accessible than the nooks and crannies of more recent recall.  “Glad rags!”  is self explanatory, yet another memory of my mother teaching me in metaphors or allegory or colorful language. 

The first time I identified her as the culprit in my propensity to spout old adages and omens, sayings that passed for wisdom, an occasional poem, and humor in a form of rhetoric that only she had mastered, was an incident that called for gratitude.  I can't remember the specifics, but I came up with her oft-repeated gem,  “Thank the Lord for the little apples!”

Gossip was fodder for her ire and I learned not to indulge after hearing this little poem often enough for me to memorize it and pass it on to my daughter:

          There’s so much bad in the best of us,
          And so much good in the least of us,   
          That it doesn’t behoove any of us      
          To talk about the rest of us.*                                         
             
Mom only lived until shortly before my seventeenth birthday, but she surely packed a lot of wisdom-giving into those short years to a girl too young to understand.  Perhaps she knew I’d get it by and by.

As for myself, she called me Topsy because I ‘just growed,’ the name having something to do with the fact that she read a lot and was forty-two when I was born.  Having decided, probably, that it was easier to bathe me every evening than to try to keep me clean during the day, she did let me ‘just grow'  -- outside, in my dad's shop, up in the attic, making a sandbox restaurant, building a room for a doll out of a big cardboard box, and so forth.   If you've read my CHILD OF THE THIRTIES you will know that I correctly credit the name 'Topsy' and the phrase 'just growed' to Harriet Beecher Stowe's  Uncle Tom's Cabin .

To explain the title of this post, evidently I asked a lot of questions when I was a little girl, and frequently did so while jumping up and down, so my mother's  frequent query was, "Now what?"

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*taken loosely from Edward Wallis Hoch, Marion (Kansas) Record