Sunday, August 26, 2007

Happy Birthday, Grandma.

Friday would have been my grandma's 85th birthday. She was a sweet little lady, always ready to laugh at your jokes, always ready to sing you an oldtimey song ("mares eat oats, and does eat oats, and little lambs eat ivy -- a kid'll eat ivy, too -- wouldn't you?"), and always ready to slap a flaming hot cloth diaper on your congested throat. Oh, and the killer merthiolate on your cuts, too. But it was all in the name of grandmotherly care.

She had soft, soft skin that just got softer as the wrinkles multiplied. When she laughed her whole face smiled. She made delicious clam chowder to warm cold kiddies on rainy days in the Oregon beach house. She loved purple and pink in shades that should be illegal, raided bargain bins wherever she found them and then tried to unload her ill-advised purchases on anyone she could. She collected music boxes and bells and loved to sing in the ward choir. And she put random words in quotation marks...I dunno...just to make 'em look alive?

She was loved by most everyone who knew her, even by her children-in-law, parents-in-law, and siblings-in-law. When her rebellious black sheep son was interviewed as an adult by a local paper, he said that his mother was his best friend. She loved gardening and taught me how to not kill African violets and hydrangeas. She loved a round of Mad Libs with the grandkids, and told us we were clever even when we chose words like "pus" and "phlegm."

And while she was a church-going, mission-serving, and devout Mormon lady, she enjoyed a naughty joke now and then. One day I played my cousins a song I'd heard on Dr. Demento, and was a bit embarrassed when Grandma walked in mid-song. To our surprise she laughed and laughed and made me play it for her several more times so she could laugh some more.

Grandma, in honor of your birthday, here is "The Scotsman," one more time. (Listen really closely -- you can hear her laughing!)


Well, a Scotsman clad in kilt left a bar one evening fair
And one could tell by how he walked that he'd drunk more than his share
He fumbled round until he could no longer keep his feet
Then he stumbled off into the grass to sleep beside the street
Ring ding diddle diddle I de oh, ring di diddly I oh
He stumbled off into the grass to sleep beside the street

About that time two young and lovely girls just happened by
And one says to the other, with a twinkle in her eye
"See yon sleeping Scotsman so strong and handsome built?
I wonder if it's true what they don't wear beneath the kilt?"
Ring ding diddle diddle I de oh, ring di diddly I oh
"I wonder if it's true what they don't wear beneath the kilt?"

They crept up on that sleeping Scotsman quiet as could be
Lifted up his kilt about an inch so they could see
And there, behold, for them to see, beneath his Scottish skirt
Was nothing more than God had graced him with upon his birth
Ring ding diddle diddle I de oh, ring di diddly I oh
Was nothing more than God had graced him with upon his birth

They marveled for a moment, then one said, "We must be gone --
Let's leave a present for our friend, before we move along."
As a gift they left a blue silk ribbon, tied into a bow
Around the bonnie star the Scot's kilt did lift and show
Ring ding diddle diddle I de oh, ring di diddly I oh
Around the bonnie star the Scot's kilt did lift and show

Now the Scotsman woke to nature's call and stumbled toward a tree
Behind a bush, he lifts his kilt and gawks at what he sees
And in a startled voice he says to what's before his eyes.
"Lad, I don't know where you've been, but I see you won first prize!"
Ring ding diddle diddle I de oh, ring di diddly I oh
"O lad, I don't know where you been, but I see you won first prize!"

3 comments:

citymama1 said...

My grandma used to sing me that song too, but I had no idea what the lyrics were. That makes so much more sense now, or not.

What a nice tribute to your grandmother. We can learn so much from their generation. Truly lovely post.

Marie said...

Thank you. I agree we have a lot to learn from older generations, and that generation in particular, coping with a devastating war and incredible shifts in gender and race perceptions.

You grandma must never have gotten to the part of the song, "if it sounds a bit queer and funny to your ear, a little bit jumbled and jivey, say..." and then repeats the chorus slowly enough that you can understand the words. I do think there's a deeper meaning somewhere in there. It's a sort of pastoral poem about...the lilies of the field...? when God takes away our oats, at least we still have the ivy...? be like unto the goat, who cheerfully eats whatever God puts in front of him...?

Anna Maria Junus said...

What a funny poem!

And what a lovely post. How lucky you are to have such a grandma.