ShorthandSeptember 30, 2015
I lived in a house ruled in the day to day by a beautiful, fiery Asian woman who’d knuckle your skull in an instant for any infraction. My mother dealt justice swiftly and efficiently. She brooked no fools nor foolishness; and still doesn’t.
My mother was the first of my parents that I heard use profanity. Only I wasn’t aware of it for the first many times. I It was not uncommon to hear, when I was very young, to hear my angry mother sling invective in Korean, or sometimes, Japanese. As a teenager, when I heard her blast other drivers with her disapproval, I assumed to expletive was in another language. Until one day when my ear was more keenly attuned. “Yuh stuhpedshidded!” I smiled and played the utterance over and over in my head until I confirmed it: my mother just cussed.
Her accent is softened over the years but others still have difficulty understanding her. I have no such trouble. Part of the reason for misunderstanding is not only due to pronunciation [eg: piggedy wiggedy = piggly wiggly; afa afa = alfalfa; pok kone = popcorn, etc ] but due to her own shorthand.
Instead of instructing us to fold the laundry and put it away, she would simply drop off the basket and say, “Fold them away.”
Someday, hopefully far in the future, I won’t be privy to so many of her sayings and idiosyncracies. But perhaps some of her ways will persist. My youngest daughter, all of two years old, after using a porta-potty knew she should wash her hands. With only hand sanitizer available, her mother instructed her to use it instead.
Her big sister was next and after completing step one of her ablutions, asked where the sink was. Her little sister chimed in on her own, “Hanitizer!”
The legacy lives on.