Wish I Could
Some families pass
gems of wisdom from generation to generation...
Sam Levenson once told a story to illustrate a lesson he learned from his mother
"We've had unexpected company and I'm
going to ask them to stay for dinner," she told Sam and his brothers. "We have plenty
of everything except chicken. So when the chicken is passed I want you boys to say
you don't care for any."
though we were starved, we dutifully refused any chicken when it was passed," said
Sam. "After dinner was finished, she announced, 'We have pie for dessert, but any
of you boys who didn't eat your chicken can't have any pie.'"
It seems I'm always hearing about folks who have
received life-changing words of wisdom from parents and grandparents. I keep reading
interviews with wealthy people that go something like this:
"Everything I am today, I owe to words
of advice from my father. He told me I should be a good person, work hard and marry
a rich girl."
Reading or hearing such quotes makes
me realize that members of my family are evidently devoid of the ability to pass
profound advice from generation to generation. Since the purpose of this column
each month is to pass on sage admonitions I've learned, it appears I must apologize
for being poorly equipped genetically to do so.
The only words of counsel I can recall having
received from my family were the following from my mother and my grandmother, and
it was not exactly life-changing advice:
"Don't count your chickens with
a hatchet," was an admonition I often received from my mother. To this day, I am
not sure if she was joking, or if she really thought this was the correct saying.
You may have heard this story, told
to me by a Catholic friend: "I've become a prostitute," a girl sobbingly admitted
"What did you say?!" asked the priest
in a horrified tone.
"I said I've become a prostitute."
"Thank God!" said the priest. "I thought
you said 'Protestant.'"
My rigid and opinionated Scotch-Irish
grandmother would never have agreed with this. There were two things she especially
disliked: Catholics and women who smoked. I discovered which was number one when
she gave me these profound words of advice: "I'd rather see you marry a good clean
Catholic girl than a Protestant girl who smokes."
The eyes glaze
Thus I have never been able to pass on to my progeny,
let alone my peers, any helpful words that have come down from antecedents. Plus
it seems to cause a complete turnoff, and a glazing of the eyes, when I preface
words of wisdom to my daughters and granddaughters with, "When I was your age ..."
I may have told about a 16-year-old granddaughter claiming she needed a car to get
"Bygawd, when I was your age, I walked
to school," was my contribution to the discussion. Obviously unimpressed, one grand-
daughter replied, "Ten miles." "In the snow," said a second. "Barefoot," said the
Like Rodney Dangerfield, I get no respect.
But at least I can attribute it to my antecedents' failure to impart to me words
of wisdom when I was growing up, so I could pass them on to others.
OUR CONSULTING EDITOR, LIVES IN ROME, GA. HE'S
ALSO A PAST EDITOR OF OM. CONTACT HIM AT RUNNINGERJ@AOL.COM
Optometric Management, Issue: April 2006