So They Say

Yesterday 16-year-old Abby received some clippings in the mail from my mom, her MeMa. That’s what my mom does. She sends clippings from magazines, Internet articles and newspapers, mostly newspapers.  And that’s good because we don’t get a newspaper and would otherwise never read all these things that “they” say.

You see all my life my mom has told me “they” say this and “they” say that. A voracious reader, my mom daily finds out something new and important that “they” say. Sometimes she remembers who “they” is and sometimes she doesn’t, but we’re supposed to assume that “they” know what “they” are talking about and in fact are the experts on the subject.

Over the years we have learned what “they” say about all manner of topics ranging from why you should read to your children to how you should train your dog to how you should build your wardrobe based on one color to how you should discipline your children to when you should let your child get his driver’s license to how you should manage your finances to why you should pay off your debt to how you can shop for groceries for a family of four and only pay $29.32. I honestly don’t know what we all (my family and my brother’s family) would have done had we not known what “they” say about all these things and more.

I know my mom is reading this, so let me pause at this juncture and say that I truly, no sarcasm involved, love my mom for caring enough to pass on all that she reads to us. Truly. This wonderful little habit of hers simply tells me that she has us—her kids, in-laws, and grandkids—on her mind at all times, even when she’s sitting in her sunroom and reading her newspaper.

I haven’t read the clippings Abby got yesterday because she wouldn’t let me. That, of course, will not matter in about an hour when she goes off to school and I am here alone with said clippings. Still, I did get a glimpse at the titles of the articles and I know one is about good manners and the other seems to be about teenage drivers. I must agree with my mom that these are certainly things about which Abby needs to know what “they” say. I’m guessing, bottom line, “they” say use good manners at all times and you will go far in life and don’t use your cell phone when driving and you will also go far in life. Good advice.

This brings me to the point of my post today. (And you thought we’d already gotten there, didn’t you?) My mom has given me some great advice over the years. I remember when I was younger I didn’t call it great advice; I probably called it nagging. My mom loves to pass on advice, as apparently so do I. But hey, who can fault her? She has great advice to give. After all she knows what “they” say about most everything.

But I’d like to share with you the greatest advice she ever gave me. It’s not about marriage or raising kids or managing your finances, nothing that weighty. And yet this little bit of advice that she droned into my head over and over and over as a child has served me better than anything else she passed on to me. That’s not to say my mom hasn’t taught me a bookoodle of other profitable and important things. It’s just that this little tidbit has been the most practical, the most serviceable advice of all and I use it daily, that’s right daily.

When I was a child my mom was an elementary school teacher. I remember many an afternoon or morning when I would be walking through the halls of Compton Elementary School with my teacher mom and we would pass one of her teacher friends in the hall. Being the shy little girl that I was, I would look the other way and pretend that I didn’t see the teacher friend. I certainly didn’t want to have to speak to her!

My mom would say hello to the other teacher and then after we had passed by she would look me square in the eyes and say, “Kay, you should always speak to people you know. You should always look them in the eyes, say hello to them, and call them by their name. They say people love to hear their name.”

I would murmur something about why I just couldn’t do that, but my mom was persistent. Even at other times, when I was getting ready to go somewhere that I would probably run into people I knew, she would remind me to look people in the eyes, speak to them, and call them by name.

Today, as a pastor’s wife, I am so glad my mom taught me this simple, but often ignored, social grace. I’m sure I don’t bat a thousand on putting it into practice, but I certainly try. I’ve gotten over my shyness completely and practiced my mom’s advice with diligence, because indeed, people do like to hear their names.

So if you’d like to print this out and send it to a friend or a child or whoever, feel free. Clippings in the mail are a good thing. But if you’d rather just tell someone about my mom’s wise advice, you don’t have to reference her by name (Louise). You can just say that “they” say you should always look people in the eyes, speak to them and call them by name. Believe me, “they” know what “they” are talking about.

What about you? Did your mom or dad give you any great advice that still rings in your ears today? Let us all know what "they" said.