Quirks of Some of the People I Love

When my husband is bored or ready to leave or fed up with what someone is saying, he whistles.  It is the same tune every time – a series of notes that go up and then go down – and he is not particularly aware that he is sending off this signal.  When I comment on it, he is often surprised.  “Oh, did I do that?” he’ll say.  “Well, I was bored to death and ready to get out of there.”  Anyone else around would have no idea that’s how he’s feeling, but I know.  I whistle, too, but only when I’m happy.  I don’t tend to use it as an alert to run for the hills.

When my older brother, Jim, was happy, he’d crinkled up his eyes when he smiled.  That was his, “I love you” look and I loved seeing it.  I now crinkle up my eyes sometimes in memory of him.  It makes me happy to remember him feeling happy.  That look signified the very best in my brother.

When my mother was tired of a conversation, she’d look at one of my siblings or me and say, “Onward and upward.”  Another of her favorite expressions, “Rise above it,” often followed this admonition.  That meant, “Get over yourself, child, and move on.  Life is more interesting that this minor detail that is derailing you.”  This is not bad advice, most of the time.  I often find myself muttering, “Keep moving!” to myself, which is my variation on my mother’s theme.

My father did a little dance when he was happy.  A jig that had him bouncing up and down, usually in our kitchen.  He also had an expression that he’d toss out just as we were leaving.  “Hasta la stinko,” he’d say, then grin.  His little jig might very well follow.  My children hate it when I dance.  I do silly moves just to hear them groan.  Yes, I am my father’s child.

My brother, Sam, loves to break out into spontaneous drumming on any surface, often followed by a few bars of a song.  He has done this since he was two or three.  Music just pours out of him.  It’s no wonder now that he is a professional musician.  I am prone to spontaneous song.  I love nothing better than belting out a tune in a quiet room.  Sometimes when my brother is around we sing together.  My other brother, George, did this, too, and sometimes we all sang. “Tell old Bill, when he comes home this morning…” Those were happy times.

My sister, Leslie, was a whistler of the first order.  She could whistle an intricate tune.  I sometimes would join her when she really got going.  We’d be a silly pair, standing there with our lips puckered, pouring forth with song.

My brother, John, could play the piano with flair.  He had real talent when it came to playing the organ, as well.  He was our church organist the whole time I was growing up.  We kids sat on the back row and sang hymns with fervor. I learned to really sing in that church.

I have been surrounded by an opinionated and lively bunch of folks who have known how to communicate their passions.  That is a bit of luck on my part, these people in my life.  Whether they are now gone or still here is no matter.  They remain with me forever with their funny quirks and talents that make me smile.

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