To say my mother had a lot of special sayings is like saying the ocean has a lot of water. Mother had quite a few sharp words she would pull out whenever they were needed.
The first one was:
You are going at that like you are killing snakes.
It was used whenever anyone put a lot of extra effort into anything. She always used that phrase when it was time to sell Girl Scout cookies and I was going door-to-door trying to be the top seller. Of course, I could never earn the top spot–that honor always went to a girl who had a lot of help from her mother.
The second comment was
Are you wearing that?
which she used whenever I was ready to leave the house without one minute to change clothes. It was a confidence killer, and even today I will sometimes hear it echo as I look in my full-length mirror.
Are you wearing that?
would often be followed with:
It’ll never be seen on a galloping horse.
Once she had made you aware of the flaws in the garment, you were now expected to be on the move so that people wouldn’t notice the stain, tear, or unraveling hem.
Often close relationships would be changed, and Mother explained it by saying
They are so shallow.
Saying someone was too shallow for her meant she would not be continuing the friendship for long. She also insisted that she was “not a door-mat,” and that my sister Lindy and I had “not been raised to be door-mats.” Actually, what she meant is that she would not be putting herself out for anyone else and that we were to follow her example and never put ourselves out for others. When my son got married, Mother kept telling me that I was allowing myself to be a door-mat because I was doing some of the work of the reception. Mother never got the concept of doing things for your children.
Mary also reversed the Golden Rule and said:
I will treat them the way they treat me.
This was said in reference to friends and relatives who had dropped her after dealing with all her crazy ways for a while. “The ball’s in their court,” she would say. Usually they didn’t come around again and that seemed to be okay with her.
Mother once didn’t speak to her own sister (Aunt Marty) for almost ten years! My sister and I would never do that!
Unlike most people, Mother only had one of certain household items. A favorite of hers was her yellow-handled scissors which she could not keep track of. She was constantly yelling at Lindy and me, “Where are my yellow-handled scissors?” or “Where is my wide-toothed comb?” We spent hours of our lives looking for the aforementioned items only to discover them sitting where she had last left them.
How much more reasonable to buy two pairs of scissors or several combs, but reasonable was never Mother’s middle name.