January 7, 2011

"As Gran used to say..."

Isabella Lindsay Dougal, my great-grandmother, was born May 29, 1900, and went to be with her Lord and Savior on December 8, 1988.  I was seventeen at the time, and though I recognize how rare it is and how grateful I should be to have had her in my life that long, I still miss her and wish she were here.  Known for her quiet way of sharing her assessment of a situation, Gran, as we called her, had a saying for nearly everything.  Among them:
“A man’s a man for a’ that.”   Borrowed from the Scottish poet Robert Burns, who likely meant it to express social equality, Gran used it to explain why a nice young woman would marry a pathetic schlep of a man, a real loser, just for the sake of getting married.
“Paper takes on anything.”   Gran’s word to the wise to not assume everything in a catalog is as it appears, and that disappointment may come when you see it in person.  I think she would have agreed this can be applied to computer screens and webstores too, and I bear it in mind when doing online shopping.
“There is nothing stranger than folk.”   Gran’s response to any tale she heard of a person’s antics that were bewildering, whether they were poor choices or just odd behavior.  It explains many things in life, and makes them less bewildering if one allows themselves to be satisfied with this explanation.
“A man running for his life would never notice.”   If you made a mistake on a project, this old expression was Gran’s word of comfort to not fret about the flaw.  Obviously the standard was pretty low, because a man running for his life doesn’t care about your arts and crafts, but it was her stamp of approval, which I welcomed.
“Too sweet to be wholesome.”   Used whenever she thought a seemingly kind and lovely woman was nothing but a phony with ulterior motives, she knew just who to label this way, and I paid attention.
“Every penny is a prisoner.”   With plenty of experience from the Great Depression as well as other times in her life, Gran could knowingly nod and share this expression concerning economic hard times.
“There are millions of women in the cemetery, and none of them have on their tombstone ‘She Kept a Clean Kitchen.’”   If you read this little blog regularly, you know that I connect with that one, and you also now know the root of my homemaking philosophy.
Thinking it helpful to look up the origin of each of Gran’s expressions in order to write about them to you, I learned that just as with “A man’s a man for a’ that” this last one I'll share does not align with its original meaning.  Here it is in Gran’s own handwriting:

I discovered in my research, much to my surprise and dismay, that this was a hymn originally written about Mary.  Gran would have been equally appalled to hear that news.  She trusted the Lord Jesus alone for her salvation, and would give glory to no other.  I am absolutely certain she did not know this poem was meant to be a song about the humble young Jewish woman who carried the Lord Jesus as a baby, but still needed forgiveness for her sins found only through faith in Him, just like everyone else.  Wherever Gran first heard of the poem, I’m certain she was thinking of that wonderful Lord and Savior as she copied it down in the front of her Bible, well-worn with years of faithful reading.  It is what is contained in that precious Book that she would point you to if it were truth and wisdom you sought.  I’m thankful for her example.

Gran's family on the day of her funeral; missing her,
but rejoicing that she is with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

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