‘Getting Old Ain’t For Sissies’ and Other Bits of Wisdom

Every generation creates and dispenses its own words of wisdom.
Seems like lately I’ve been surrounded by folks who liberally
sprinkle those favorite phrases on family, friends or anyone within
earshot. Every time I hear someone sharing unsolicited advice, it
reminds me of all the adages I’ve heard over the years

Every generation creates and dispenses its own words of wisdom. Seems like lately I’ve been surrounded by folks who liberally sprinkle those favorite phrases on family, friends or anyone within earshot. Every time I hear someone sharing unsolicited advice, it reminds me of all the adages I’ve heard over the years …

My grandfather died before I was born so grandma lived with us for most of my childhood days. That worked out well because we lived on a dairy farm and my folks spent a lot of time in the fields and barn. Grandma’s presence meant we little ones got to stay in the two-story farmhouse instead of sitting in a potato crate wherever dad and mom were working. Grandma had a farmy saying to go with just about every activity.

She’d say, “Eat up, you don’t know where your next meal’s coming from.” Sure, times were harder then than they are now, but we always suspected she was exaggerating – we knew our next meal was probably in the garden, root cellar, pig pen, chicken coup or cow barn.

Another one that we heard often was, “Close the door! Were you born in a barn?” That one didn’t make too much sense either because our barn doors were almost always shut – don’t want the animals running away, right?

Another one was, “Looks like he’s been ridden hard and put away wet one too many times.” (Never having met someone who had ridden a horse hard enough to wipe it down after returning it to the stables, my kids always thought that one was hilarious.)

My folks were part of the first wave of Wisconsin dairy farmers to lose their farms to large corporations (not to mention all the “happy cows” pumping out California Cheese.) After selling what they could, they moved to Milwaukee and went to work in factories. There, they continued to repeat some of their parents’ proverbs but life in the big city and their loss of the farm inspired some new ones as well.

My mom didn’t tolerate crying or complaining about little inconveniences and would say, “Quit crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” And, of course, “Quitcherbellyachin’.”

If she thought we were being self centered, we heard, “You’re not the only person living in this house.” Of course, we were well aware of that fact since six of us lived in a two-bedroom, one-bath home (until my dad turned the attic into a dormitory for us girls.)

My dad was full of pithy sayings, too. The most repeated was, “Nobody said life is a bed of roses.” Or, “No one promised life would be fair.” Both no doubt inspired by his own disappointments.

And, instead of butchering the pig to provide the bacon, we now heard, “As long as I bring home the bacon, I make the rules.”

The one I love my dad the most for, shared with my kids and still try to live by is, “Anything worth doing, is worth doing well.”

When we started raising our own munchkins, Mike and I came up with a new batch of gems to sprinkle around. (We figured it was our turn to be ignored.)

Mike picked some of his up at the firehouse. Two of the kids’ favorites were, “He looks like his head wore out two bodies.” And, “Eat till you’re tired and rest till you’re hungry.”

Most of mine were borrowed from inspirational books, like, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

Lately, we’ve begun to recite a new one to each other almost every morning, “Getting old ain’t for sissies!”

My friend Phyllis has a great one that she spouts with dead pan face and husky, lowered voice, “It’s better to be a thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

And, my wise friend Pat rephrased the old “bloom where you’re planted” saying. In her soft, comforting voice, she quietly affirms, “What is, is.”

I don’t hear young people participating in this advising ritual (unless it’s to poke fun at us older folks who are, after all, “just trying to help.”) But, I’m sure that someday, once they have their own kids to raise, they’ll come up with a few sayings of their own. I can hardly wait to hear what the “Yo dude, wa’s up?” cohorts will devise.

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