As Granny used to say…

A friend of mine wrote recently, and said,  “‘It’s a great life, if you don’t weaken,’ as my grandmother used to say.”  The images that conjured up were somewhat terrifying, but it reminded me of my own grandmother, who was definitely a low-comfort woman.  If you complained about–anything, she’d say, “From the day of your birth, ’til you ride in a hearse, there’s nothing so bad that it couldn’t be worse.” My mother remembered a day in childhood when she ran inside, crying to my grandmother, “Nobody loves me and my hands are cold,” and my grandmother said mordantly, “God loves you and you can sit on your hands.”  A hug and an “I love you” might have been a wee bit more helpful…

Another friend’s grandmother had more sensible advice.  She used to say, “Never trust a poseur.”

So–here’s your chance–what words to live by did your grandmother comfort or terrify you with?

  • “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” I can hear her voice this very minute. Wise lady.

  • I don’t remember my father’s mother, and my mother’s mother lived all the way across the country, so I only saw her a few times. But my mother had tons of truisms…. one thing I remember her telling me more than once was that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. I remember that every time I attempt to put on make-up.

  • No grannies here, either, but generally people always told children (such crybabies) that it would have stopped bothering us by the time we got married… The ‘it’ presumably being whatever we cried over.

  • Shirley

    I asked my grandmother once what advice she would give me to live my life. She said, “Be yourself.”

  • I’ve been wondering what my own granddaughter might put here. I realized recently that when I’m getting ready to leave the house to get to an event, I say, “Let’s rock and roll,” because I heard her saying that–not part of her generation’s vocabulary. I hope any life wisdom I hand out is as positive as Shirely’s grandmother’s.

    I once asked my husband, whose father died when he was twelve, if his father had ever given him memorable advice. His father had worked in the jungles of Burma (Myanmar) for thirty years and my husband, after thinking for a time, said his father had told him, “If you ever encounter a python, make sure there isn’t a pole or a tree nearby,” because they need something like that to wrap their tails around in order to get a purchase before squeezing you, the prey, to death. That seemed like wonderful advice, as true today as it was in 1930!

  • “You catch more flies with honey, than you do with vinegar.”

    “It’s all grist for the mill.”

  • Jan

    “Don’t call for a tiger to come. If you grow your own forest, it will come to you voluntarily.” This advice helps me focus on myself.

  • My mother used to say “let’s beat feet” when she wanted us to hurry.
    Will definitely remember your husband’s father’s advice if I’m ever in the jungle.

  • Ann Marie

    My grandmother gave me this relationship advice: “Never marry a man you can’t talk to.” Apologies for the preposition at the end … and she was an English teacher! Good advice, though!

  • In high school, right before I left for my first date, my Grandma Daisy said, “Now, Billy, let her be the one to use tongue first. Don’t assume. And don’t just throw her on the ground and jump on top of her. Girls don’t like that.”

    Good tips, Grandma!

  • Ruth

    “If you’re ever reduced to swearing it’s because your vocabulary isn’t big enough” obviously my lexicon is smaller than my grandma would’ve hoped for……

  • Omigod, Bill, that’s hilarious!

  • I agree with Cheryl–and how did you feel, Bill, when your granny laid that little egg on you? Ruth, my granddaughter hates it when I swear, so I have been forced to grow my vocabulary, although sometimes I just stand there saying, “Bad word, very bad word.”

  • Idzan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    “Don’t sing while you are cooking. Or you will marry an old man.”
    That’s what our mums and gramdmas tell us.
    Many of my friends did it in the hope of catching a rich, old man.
    Till now they are still hoping

  • åsa

    Life’s not easy. I sometimes find myself saying it when I hear a tale of woe, and don’t know what to say.

  • Idzan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    And i guess granny and mum the world over will always tell us ladies:
    “Love him less. let him love you more. In that way, you will not hurt too deep, if the relationship sours.”

  • Steph

    My father’s mother, of a neighbor: “She thinks her shit is ice cream.” I, preteen, had never heard the phrase before–and damned near had a heart attack hearing it from Grandma.

  • I love all this interesting grandmotherly advice. My mother always sang around the house and I do, too–perhaps that’s why I ended up marrying an older man–although he is a great guy and I’ve never regretted it, or at least only on those occasions when all wives feel exasperated. We’re coming up on our 34th anniversary next month.

  • My mother was classically trained, and sang constantly – as do I! And most of what I sing I learned from her – songs from the ’40’s (Andrews Sisters, Vera Lynn, etc). Those songs keep her alive in my mind.

  • Idzan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    An early Anniversary greetings to you and dear hubby.
    Please blog on how you celebrate the special day.

    As for singing while cooking, I think it’s more to do with not letting your spit go into your cooking. Haha.

    There’s a better advice Malay grannies tell in never chasing after guys. “Let not the well go after the bucket.” (That was in the dark ages when our ancestors used well water for bathing and for cooking).

    Now our mums tell us: “Every kettle has a lid. Let the lid roll to you.”

  • Christina

    When I worried about something, my grandmother would say, “Better get your worrying in now, or you might completely miss an opportunity to feel bad.” And I wonder why my children mastered sarcasm before they could read. It’s clearly hereditary.

  • JN Welsh

    I’m of the generation with little notion of the idea of extended family. I only saw one of my grandmothers twice in my life, and the other rarely said much of anything to me on childhood visits before her death. I’m fascinated by people who grew up in close contact with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles — maybe one day I’ll have some pearls of wisdom for my daughters’ children.

  • I grew up in a most picturesque corner of rural Ireland but unfortunately the economy was not great – whenever asked how anyone could bear to leave such a place (in search of work) my mother would say, “you can’t eat the view”.

  • Jan Hosking

    My gran used to say “chickens come home to roost” when speaking of how a person’s conduct or deeds could or would be judged by the world.
    She also had a saying “she’s looking at a giggle bird and laughing at the eggs” when, as a child, I would go sometimes go into those spasms of unstopable, uncontrolled, hysterical laughter.

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  • A. Joyce

    I don’t remember a single word my grandmother said to me, before she died when I was in high school.  By the time I came around I think she was worn out by an alcoholic husband, bedbound from many years from stroke and ill-health, still irascible, and eight living children, mostly daughters with not-so-good marriages and god knows how many grandchildren,   She wasn’t a person to me ever, really, more like a fragile old teacup.  She did make some mean apple jelly, that I do remember.

  • Wulf Bender

    “You could be 10 years older already if you wouldn’t smoke that damn cigarettes”


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