Until the day she died, at the ripe old age of 93, my Lola Anita – God rest her soul – could remember all her family members’ birthdays (day, month, year) and full names (if you are familiar with the Filipino tendency to have three or more given names, you will admit that this was no mean feat).
Her son-in-law, my Lolo D, has a remarkable memory too – remarkable, that is, for its unreliability. He doesn’t forget names and terms – he just mixes them up…often with hilarious consequences.
I remember he used to call our household help by the wrong names. Not each other’s names, but his own made-up approximations of their real names. It was a great source of entertainment for all of us, as we constantly had to guess whom he was referring to.
He calls roast beef drippings “droppings” and describes scantily clad people as “wearing nothing but their heebie-jeebies.” Maybe because the sight of scantily clad people gives him the heebie-jeebies.
Newly settled in Montreal, he was informed he had to obtain a hospital card in addition to the provincial health care card. Accordingly, he and my mother went to have the necessary paperwork filled out and filed. The clerk assisting him asked, “And in which department of the hospital is your doctor practicing?”
“Gynecology,” Lolo D answered.
The clerk gave him the fish eye over the top of her glasses and said, “I don’t think so.” At which point, my mother, red-faced, intervened. “It’s geriatrics. Geriatrics.” And in an aside to my grandfather, “You are embarrassing. I’m never going with you to the hospital again.”
The latest incident occurred at the dinner table just last week. I wasn’t there, but my sister was. She told me all about it over the phone, and we both laughed till we cried.
Lolo D had brought home a box of donut holes, or as we call them in Canada, Timbits. Mom popped them into the fridge. Later, while they were having dinner, someone wondered aloud what to have for dessert. Lolo D turned to Mom and asked, “Where are my balls?”
He blames all of this on a family propensity for malapropisms. My grandmother called it “having senior moments.” Whatever it is, I think I’ve inherited it. I told my sister the other day that I had learned a new word. Guddling. “It’s what you do to a mint leaf to bruise it before adding it to a mojito,” I explained.
Long pause at the other end of the line. “I think you mean muddling,” she said at last.
Oops, okay. Muddling. “But guddling is a word too,” I insisted.
Another long pause. “Uh-huh….” she said. “But it’s definitely not what you do to a mint leaf.”
Wondering why the long pauses, I looked up the word “to guddle.” Of Scottish origin, it has many meanings, some rather less savoury than others. And my sister was right – none of them has any connection to mint leaves whatsoever.
I guess I’ll be thinking twice from now on before laughing at Lolo D’s latest. There’s just no escaping heredity. Or karma.