This Week’s Words


For the first couple of decades of my life, I said “Oh, dear!” a lot.  I think I picked it up from my maternal grandmother.  She had other expressions, such as “My land!” (for surprise) and “Oh, my aching back!” (also for surprise).  My grandmother was 70 when I was born, but she lived to be 104 and was a huge influence on my life (do the math: until I was 34).

Oh, dear, I’ve lost my train of thought.  Actually I haven’t–I just wanted to show how the expression might be used in a sentence.  I was cured of saying “Oh, dear” during a breakup with a girlfriend when I was in my 20s. In the litany of my many faults she painstakingly enumerated was this final one (in what was possibly the first use of All Caps in a face-to-face breakup): “. . . AND ONLY MAIDEN AUNTS SAY ‘OH, DEAR!'” (OUCH! It was all I could do to keep from exclaiming “My LAND!”)

I hate to think what my life might have been like had I not stopped joining “Oh” with “dear.”  I might never have married and had children.  I might have spent my entire life in a meticulously kept house where teacups and doilies were prominently displayed–a house with cats, embroidery in progress, and a cabinet of collectible crystal (certainly with one or more African violets and maybe a secret stash of wine.)

But I’m stereotyping maiden aunts.  The only thing for certain is that they are someone’s unmarried sister.  These days they are more likely to take up skydiving than collecting crystal.

But that’s NOW!  Forty years ago when I was admonished for using the expression, maiden aunts didn’t have all the thrilling life options they do now.  They were teacups/doilies/cat people, and I came this close to being one of them.

I’m just glad I’ve lived long enough to find some humor in “. . . AND ONLY MAIDEN AUNTS SAY ‘OH, DEAR!'” My best recollection is that, at the time, it wasn’t funny.  And my grandmother from whom I got the expression?  SHE lived long enough to have 13 children, 48 grandchildren, and more great-grandchildren than she could count.  SHE was never in danger of becoming a maiden aunt, and SHE used “Oh, dear” for about 100 years.

7 thoughts on “This Week’s Words

  1. If it puts you past the century mark, you’ve earned the “oh dear” rights. You are falling behind in your descendants.
    Don’t put it off till it’s too late.

    Liked by 1 person

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