I have to say, I’m pretty amazed at how quickly my Dad has progressed since his quadruple bypass surgery a few weeks ago. The guy is walking up and down stairs and walking on a treadmill, and getting more and more active every day.
I shouldn’t be surprised, though. My Dad is one tough cookie. I don’t think you can live through the Great Depression, two World Wars, serving in the army, and raising eight children and not be a tough person.
I’m sure his sense of humor helped a lot, as well. He has a lot of “sayings”—and I’m beginning to notice that my siblings are starting to use those sayings, too.
Like whenever you ask my Dad how he’s doing, he pretty much always says the same thing:
“Finer than a frog’s hair.” (Think about it—that’s pretty fine!) The funny thing is, I heard my husband say that the other day. It’s even starting to rub off on him!
Or when you ask my Dad how he knew something or figured something out, he often points to his head and says:
“Kidneys.” That always makes me giggle.
And then there’s the one line of German that he’d sometimes yell at us kids, that wasn’t so funny—and that we all dreaded hearing when we were kids:
“Dooner vetter knockemout!” I did some research a while back and could at least translate the first two words of this phrase—actually spelled “Donner Wetter”—which literally means “thunder weather.” As far as I could tell, it meant that if we didn’t stop misbehaving, then “thunder weather” was gonna come soon!
And when Dad said “Dooner vetter knockemout!” in his big booming voice, we knew that he meant business.
That’s one thing that reveals his true toughness—and made all the neighborhood kids scared of him—he has a very loud, deep voice. Even though he is not by any stretch of the imagination a large man, that voice could make all the kids in the neighborhood run away in fear.
And yet, truth be known, he’s also quite a softie at heart. But I never minded that all the neighborhood kids were scared of my Dad. It sure helped keep the bratty kids from messing with us—at least most of the time. On the rare occasion when those kids were mean to my sister or me and we went crying to Dad, all he would have to do is step out into the driveway, and the bratty kids immediately took off.
And when I got older and made new friends in high school, my Dad’s voice and boldness sometimes made them nervous, too—especially when they called to talk to me.
You see, my Dad was adamant about teaching us kids to speak correctly. Using good grammar was one rule in my house—which I think was a very good thing. Unfortunately for my friends, though, they didn’t always speak with correct grammar, and my Dad couldn’t resist correcting (i.e. messing with) them.
So usually when my friends would call me, it would go something like this:
My friend would ask “Is Carla there?”
Dad would reply, “Yes” and then wait. And wait. And wait. (He was very patient when it came to messing with my friends.)
Finally, my friend would—most of the time—catch on and ask, “Well, may I talk to her?” and Dad would reply, “Oh, sure.”
But woe be to the friend who, instead of asking “May I talk to her?”, instead asked:
“Can I talk to her?”
To which my Dad would reply, “I don’t know, can you?”
Then came the longest silence of all, when my friend fumbled around, trying in vain to figure out what the heck to say.
Finally, my Dad would end the torture and say, “You may” and then put me on the phone.
Hmm, looking back, I wonder if that’s why I didn’t have very many friends in high school?
Anyway, nowadays it makes me laugh to think of those days. And every time I hear “finer than a frog’s hair,” it immediately makes me smile.
I am so grateful for these gems that my Dad passed on to my siblings and me.
And I’m grateful to his heart surgeon for helping him stay around longer, so we can continue to enjoy him and his silly phrases.