My mom's side of the family is large and loving. Everyone is so close, especially given the size. As I've mentioned in previous posts, my maternal grandmother was blessed with 9 children, 76 grandchildren, and 65+ (and growing) great-grandchildren. My Grandma Morrison was the matriarch of the family. Everyone loved and respected her greatly. As one of the eldest grandchildren, I spent a lot of time at her house and was quite close to her. She passed away about a year and a half ago and is dearly missed.
Grandma Morrison had her quirks. She was a very cute and sweet lady. One of her quirks, which was from growing up in the Great Depression, was that she hoarded things. At her house I still find things I thought I threw away at her house over 20 years ago. I think she took them back out of the garbage and kept them. This includes old bags with holes in the bottom and torn swimsuits. I once cleaned out her laundry room and recycled about 50 laundry detergent scoops. Her kitchen drawer held hundreds of garbage bag ties. That was my grandma and I loved her for it.
She was also very proper and prudish in some aspects. While she was a modern woman and didn't seem to judge others (she watched Jerry Springer, after all, and knew how modern society was), there were just some things we knew would not fly around her. One of them was alcohol. No one can blame her, really. First of all, she was Mormon and Mormons believe in the Word of Wisdom which tells us that the Lord wants us to take care of our bodies by not taking alcohol, drugs/caffeine, or smoke.
The biggest reason alcohol was taboo with her, though, is because she carried the sorrow of what happened to her brother. In her opinion, he drank himself to death. The story she told me was that he was sort of a drifter and he couldn't stay away from the bottle. Well, one night he befriended someone else at the bar and let this other person share his hotel room (another man and the room had 2 beds - come on, this was the 1940s or 50s). This other person absconded with her brother's luggage, which held his insulin. He died from complications of his diabetes that night. She believed that because of the alcohol he used poor judgment in inviting this other person into his room. The alcohol also messed up his blood-sugar levels, and made it difficult for him to wake up to take care of himself. The suitcase being missing also made it impossible for him to take care of himself or for anyone else to care for him. She was always so sad about this story and I know it would have broken her heart if any more of her loved ones succumbed to alcoholism.
So, those family members that did indulge in alcohol just learned to hide it from her. I'm sure she knew, though. Just the same, she never let it affect her love for everyone.
Another one of her quirks was language. Some words just offended her. As you can see, we all respected her and didn't want to offend her at any cost. So, we used the words that she accepted. Poo was a bad word. In fact, I was in kindergarten before I learned that word. In kindergarten I learned all sorts of lovely words never spoken by my family, like pee and fart. The Morrisons had replacement words for those lovelies, because with so many babies it was difficult to not mention these unmentionables.
Poo became "bunches." You can imagine how my cousins and I giggled at Christmastime when we'd sing "hear the snow crunch, see the kids bunch." As a child I took a lot of the words to songs so literally. I really imagined a group of children squatting over crunchy snow with bare bottoms pushing out logs of poo. It got really funny when Kelloggs advertised their new cereal "Honey Bunches of Oats" and Fritos were advertising "Muncha Buncha Muncha Buncha Fritos go with lunch! Munch!"
Pee became "wets." That wasn't as funny as bunch. It was a common thing for a child to be asked if they had wets or bunches in their diaper. Oh wait, I mean "die-dee." The word "diaper" is verboten among the Morrisons, too.
Farts didn't have a global-family word replacement, rather different families came up with their own euphemisms. Our family called them "airs" where some of my cousins called them "busters" or "verts."
What reminded me of this recently was that I just broke the great news to my Grandpa Morrison on Easter. The phone was passed among the many family members that were at the house. I said to one of them, "we have good news!" She replied, "your expecting!" I know "expecting" is a very common term for pregnancy. It just reminded me, though, that among the Morrisons it's never "pregnant," always "expecting."
Most of my aunts, uncles, and cousins now use the more common terms and I think it's getting rarer for the children to be punished for saying poo, pee, or fart. I remember when my brother and I learned about the words poo and pee, we taught our cousin Celeste and the three of us giggled and giggled as we repeated our new dirty words. We got caught and were punished severely by being separated and placed in boring rooms for an hour or two so we could think about our filthy mouths.
Now those memories bring a smile to my face. I think it's cute and sweet how my grandmother gave us this unique experience. In some ways it kept us living in simpler times when the biggest of our worries was keeping the children from saying poo and pee. In a way, she gave us more of a childhood with that, because it added to our innocence.