While convalescing, I looked around at my social contacts through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogger, Blogspot & WordPress. Legacy Stories, a new-found genealogy resource, had an interesting topic: Family sayings and Mottos.
Family sayings? There were many of them on Dad’s side of the family, in English, French, German, Scottish and sign language — not sure it was really sign language though, looked more like a baseball coach playing charades at the third baseline for his near-sighted player on first.
What I can say is that my father and his six brothers were well-versed in the many romantic languages (of the red-light district). Many of the sayings I still cannot pronounce after 40 years, some others I am not sure of the translation and the rest, well … let’s just say, I’m a romantic poet and thankfully not a linguist!
Mottos I know, both my Mum’s side and my Dad’s side had them:
Mum’s shield had three silver arrowheads forming a chevron on a black band — Nil sine labore (Not Without Labor); and
Dad’s shield had three silver antelope following single-file uphill on a red band — A Deo lux Nostra (Our Light is from God)
As for ever saying them, I only heard them aloud when visitors read the artist’s framed renderings of both families’ Coats of Arms, which hung in the dining room.
But, the bits I do remember, were fragmented conversations between the adults, long after my siblings and I went off to bed. We would sit by our bedroom doors and wait for the perfect moment: when everyone got loud with laughter, and then we’d bolt like the wind — if that was even possible in Strawberry Shortcake, Superman and Batman pajamas with the plastic-soled feet in ’em — and hover at the top of the banister, straining to hear the Big Kids talk.
My little sister, Sweetie, got afraid because Mum and all our Aunties seemed to have forgotten each other’s names!
They call each other “Dearie,” and “Sweetie” she whispered almost in tears. “Why?”
My brother Handsome always had an answer — “That’s what happens when you get married and have babies,” he said nonchalant.
Yep, my little brother always had an answer … no guarantees it was the right one though.
Sister went to bed and my brother and I braved a few minutes more. A whisp of cigarette smoke drifted upstairs, that was the tell-tale sign that the women would leave and go have a hen party in the kitchen.
We looked at each other and smiled, knowing Dad and our uncles got colourful when the women left; they would use Carpenter’s Language — it’s the same thing you say after you affix your thumb to the roof when you missed the shingles with the power nailer. THAT Carpenter’s Language.
And we waited …
“Why are they talking about groceries?” my brother asked me. Even then my hearing was bad.
“What did you hear?”
Disgusted he said, “They’re talking about jugs and melons, and leaving them on a rack!”
“I don’t know, maybe they’re hungry!” I answered feeling queszy. But milk and melons? Yuck!
After a few minutes more, we both agreed to go to bed, we were not learning anything adult. They talk about boring stuff.