I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t mind.
His made up words rattle around in my brain. As fresh today as they were during the many years he was alive, these locutions are difficult for me to forget. I can say, “I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t mind”, because he spoke them so frequently – with such joy and merriment. Times of sickness required a motherly hot-water bottle, Vicks Vapo-rub, and a grandfather’s visit with a made-up word or two to lessen the pain a bit. Birthdays and holidays?….same. Ups, downs, in-betweens?…..didn’t matter to him. Insert made-up word or phrase here.
I can’t say for sure if he made them up, or, they were passed down. I didn’t know anyone older than his generation. Most of his family passed before I was born. There were a few brothers I saw infrequently at reunions. Time spent delving into weird-word origins seemed like time wasted among Pittsburgh Steeler talk, potato salad, flies, women in flowered aprons talking recipes, young boys and girls enjoying life without electronics, and the smell of burning embers in the fire pit waiting for marshmallows later at dusk.
I think Pap-Pap used words to get through life (Hmmm, sounds familiar)… I have the added advantage of my musical talents which he didn’t have, though. He and I shared the gift of laughter. He was a silly guy, but probably had his serious moments we never saw. We knew he never strayed from his faith. The last few years of his century-filled life were filled with wonderful, healthy experiences. He managed them well without grandma: the nose-to-the-grindstone, go-get-’em gal he lost after so many happy years together.
Words did mean something to him. One never knew what was truth or fantasy. The sparkle in his eye – I came to know early on – was a give away. As I aged (can’t say matured, obviously) I began to notice the “set-up” as another. I began to enjoy – rather, look forward to – his terminological twist even though I knew, most assuredly, what was to come. Reliving, forty years later, the little sick boy in bed listening to nonsensical words in hopes of feeling just a bit better about life. Adult, child? It never mattered. Pap-Pap was the same to me.
The last time I saw him alive and aware, he was in the hospital. I went in, alone, to see him. We couldn’t communicate well because he had a mask on and was hooked up to machines. As time passed, and family came in and out, he faded away and eventually passed – surrounded by family. Simply stated, after one-hundred years, his body was done. He was in pretty good shape a week prior – Christmas day – but fell ill suddenly a few days hence. He died New Year’s Day, 2010. He made it to his 100th year, but not to his 100th birthday. In all of our minds, he lived to be 100.
I’ve heard, “There are no words….”, used many times in many different contexts. From deep sorrow to endless elation, there can be times when words do not fit. Sometimes only a strong hug comforts the grieving when despair grips a soul. Or, so much happiness overrides overflowing joy in a heart and words are unattainable. Yes, silence is golden at times.
For me, silence isn’t one of my best attributes. I like to talk. It’s a good thing. Probably got the “skill” from grandma who was the salesperson. Pap-Pap, the goofy one who spun a story once in a while … choosing his moments carefully … would be proud of me. I think. But I don’t use made-up words like he did. The twisted irony of all this? … I still mix up dangling participles, clitics, schwas (wink wink Ms. Renee), malaphors, and sluicings ….. which ARE real grammar usage words. Geesh.
So, I lift my glass to Pap-Pap: The purveyor of purposefully meaningless words such as “Lumpuckaroo” and “Cringidabingess”. May you rest in peace.