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The Things We Say

It’s interesting how we use the same words we’ve used for years without even thinking about them. People who are married for a long time usually tend to think of everything they own as “ours” instead of “mine.” When I invite family and friends over, I say, “Would you like to come to our house for dinner?” I’ve noticed this phenomenon continues even after there is no longer the need for a plural pronoun such as is the case with widows.

I went to my mother-in-law’s apartment Tuesday night to fix her phone, which had stopped working. We had a nice visit while I worked to find and rectify the problem. She didn’t understand what I was doing or how her phone worked because my husband and I switched her to a WIFI carrier from the cable company that she’d used for years. She was moving, so it seemed a good time to make the switch and save her some money.

The new system means her phone isn’t plugged into the land line phone jack on the wall. It’s plugged into a base instead. She hasn’t quite wrapped her mind around the concept yet. To her credit, she has listened to me and left the phone plugged into the base. She thinks I’m nuts and questions me about it every time I visit. Nuts or not, I was able to fix her phone problem by rebooting her system.

My in-laws were married for over 60 years when my father-in-law passed away a couple years ago. My mother-in-law still uses the plural pronouns for everything. Tuesday night when she opened the door she said, “Margarite, our phone quit working.” Throughout the course of our visit we discussed things she needed. She said, “We need some canned goods and some fruit.”

Before I left, I commented on how nice her new apartment looked with her art hanging on the walls. She gave me a big smile and said, “Yes, it’s nice to have them here. The man hung our pictures, but we have more than will fit on the walls. I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

We discussed choosing her favorites and how we could rotate them. I told her how nice the print of Jesus with a flock of sheep in an ornate gold frame looked hanging in her kitchen. I admit, I teared up when she told me that piece of art had been a wedding gift. Then she laughed and said, “It’s that old! Can you believe it?”

By the time I was ready to go, she’d told me she wants a new old-fashioned phone with a cord because she thinks it would work better. I invited her to go to the store right then, but she was aghast at the thought of missing any of her St. Louis Cardinals game on TV, so we’ll go another time. From what I understand, it was a good baseball game and well worth staying home to watch.

I understand how making a transition in not only language usage, but in your entire mindset, could be difficult. Sometimes the right words just don’t come to mind.

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