Every year, the first Sunday after Labor Day marks National Grandparents Day. This time makes me reflect on my grandparents, specifically my paternal grandfather, Frank.
Part of what makes him memorable are his catchphrases, which have stayed with me over the years. There are too many to mention in this space, but the list can be narrowed down to a few of my favorites, in no particular order.
“Is this where all the action is?” My grandfather usually said this when entering a room only to find people lounging around – a lot of times watching television or doing nothing noteworthy.
Speaking of television, he was the first person I ever heard use the phrase “the idiot box” to describe it. That term seems more relevant than ever today. Now I sound like an old man.
“Mañana.” He would often say he would do something “mañana,” which is Spanish for “tomorrow.” This is a little puzzling, because our family has no Spanish heritage to my knowledge. He would also refer to me as “Scott Miguel,” a reference to my name of Scott Michael. These were probably the only efforts he made in his life to be bilingual.
“Stop, car.” He said this frequently while slowing down his car near a stop sign or red light. He certainly gave me enough chances to hear this catchphrase because his car was practically my second home. We frequently rode together to and from school, his house, various restaurants and other places. Nowadays, I say, “Stop, car,” sometimes when I reach a traffic signal. It’s not just a tribute – I could use the reminder.
“They must be betting on horses.” This was said when we would pass a library with a crowded parking lot. My grandfather wasn’t an illiterate man – he had his own collection of novels he read – but I think this reflected his perception that people were losing interest in books. Certainly, advances in electronics have changed how people read and access stories.
My grandfather had other musings for how the world was changing as he got older. He often said that to be a part of the 21st century all he needed was to carry a cellphone in one hand and a bottle of water in the other.
“Every day’s a holiday.” He often said this when people asked him how he was doing. Frequently he would add, “when I get up.” I’m sure he really did feel that way as he dealt with the typical aches and pains of becoming elderly. Pain might have slowed him down, but it couldn’t stop him completely. He had his grandchildren’s baseball and soccer games to attend. Not to mention all the lunch dates and times he hauled yours truly back to his house to mow the grass.
“Good, I don’t see my name listed.” He said this occasionally while reading the death notices and obituaries in this newspaper. This was a dry way of facing up to his own advancing age and mortality. It reflected the peace he had toward life and how he mostly stayed on an even keel.
Although the day did eventually come where his death notice was listed in this publication, I suspect he wouldn’t have minded.
It’s been about five years since my grandfather passed away, but I still think of him daily. Each day, situations come up to remind me of his many sayings, producing happy memories of him. And when these moments occur, every day’s a holiday.