For the past few weeks, I have been thinking quite often about my dad. He died in 1980, so by definition, all of my memories are in the distant past.

Most of these thoughts have been about the expressions he frequently used, cliche or otherwise. As ridiculous as some of them may have seemed at the time, either I heard them so many times or they left a lasting impression, or both. Here are some examples:

The highest compliment that Dad could ever pay was that someone “had a good head on his shoulders.” Having been a smart mouth for many years, I’m certain that I wanted to say in response, “As opposed to his spleen? Or his elbow?” Dad didn’t do well with sarcasm so I’m thinking that I would have kept such comments to myself.

I also liked the expression, “nuttier than a fruitcake.” How nutty is a fruitcake? Do people still eat fruitcakes, except maybe during Christmas season?

Another good one was “A good swift kick in the butt wouldn’t hurt you a bit.” Seriously? At 5’11” and close to 300 lbs., any of his kicks would have been life-changing. My recollection is that he said this more to my brothers than to me. But still….

The last one went something like this: “He (or she) has a lot of book smarts but doesn’t have the good sense to come in out of the rain.” I’m sure he used this one quite a bit. As the youngest child and only girl, I decided early on that I would make my mark on the world by being scholarly. And that was the path that I took, always reading or doing homework. Guess I just didn’t want to be short in both categories.

What were the examples of lacking good sense? It could have been not boiling potatoes long enough for them to be mashable. Or it could have been leaving my bike outside all night instead of bringing it inside to the porch. Right now, I can’t remember.

As always, there is a moral of the story. My dad had no intention to demoralize, demonize, or destroy my self-esteem. Because I recollect these warnings and others, I have to believe that he was intending to teach me what he could. Our kids and students remember what we say to them. It means that we need to be judicious about what we say because our words will last longer than we do. Shalom.

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