Long after they are spoken words stay in our minds. Your departed loved one may have had special expressions he or she used again and again. Maybe your loved one invented new words or silly, comical words. Thinking about these words brings back memories.
My deceased daughter, the mother of my twin grandchildren, had a quick wit. She made people laugh and I appreciated her talent. When she had news to share she would say, “Here’s the latest and the greatest.” I didn’t realize this expression had crept into my conversation until I used it the other day.
I’m co-authoring a book right now and am responsible for all revisions. When I handed my co-author the current revision I announced, “Here’s the latest and the greatest.” Using the expression caught me by surprise, yet I wasn’t disturbed by it. Instead, I felt a surge of love for my daughter.
Two days after my daughter died from the injuries she received in a car crash, my father-in-law died. He had practiced medicine for decades, was a life-long learner, and skillful story-teller. Like other members of my family, Dad invented new words and one of them was “neatenized.”
As he became more forgetful, Dad became more obsessed with letters and papers. He looked at the letters and papers for hours and moved them around on his desk. When we offered to clean up his desk and file papers Dad would exclaim, “I don’t want to be neatenized!”
You guessed it; The word “neatenized” has also worked its way into my vocabulary. I use the word differently, however, as with the sentence, “Today is a neatenizing day.” Using the word makes me think of Dad and happy memories. During the last few weeks I’ve been re-telling the stories that Dad told. Of course, I don’t tell them as well as he did, but telling them makes me feel close to him.
Words are powerful. In the first stunning days of grief, we may recall angry words or hurtful words we had with a departed loved one. We may even obsess on these words. Fortunately, the human mind has the ability to hit the stop button and replay happier words.
Did your departed loved one create unique sayings or words? If you’re like me, you may find comfort in remembering these words and using them. You may also find comfort in reading some of your loved one’s favorite books. Words can be connecting threads to a deceased loved one and, in time, these threads may
become a tether to a new life.
As Winston Churchill once said, “Broadly speaking, short words are the best, and the old words best of all.”
Time passes and words that used to be recent — words your loved one spoke — may become old. This doesn’t have to lessen the impact of their words. Using the same words and expressions my departed family members once used keeps me connected to them. I love their words.
Copyright 2011 by Harriet Hodgson
Updated: April 29, 2013