Mind, remind me — a poem about malapropism in old age
In his eighties, our dad was inclined to use the wrong word, a word that half-rhymed with the word he intended. Farmer instead of Father. Golden Syrup instead of Holy Spirit. They would just pop out with (often) hilarious effect. Or he would create an approximation of an elusive word, also with hilarious effect. (Example: a hole in a sock was “a temporary absence of stitches”.) Now we are older, aphasia is a fact of life and we all scrabble around for the right word. Sometimes a sister leaps in to provide it, and away goes the conversation again.
He was blessed by the Holy Farmer,
God the Father, God the Son
and God the Golden Syrup,
How random and how rural
are our thoughts.
Mind, re-mind me:
are you still mine?
Words I can never remember:
laminate, locknit, perspex.
Words I can always remember:
Names I can always remember:
none, not one.
Meanwhile, I talk with momentum
or aim for the noun.
And get me to the gym.
Please don’t imagine I’m being blasphemous in the first verse or in the photo of a golden syrup bottle swathed in an ecclesiastic stole. In our home, the religious and the domestic were similarly entwined. The first three lines are straight from the mouth of our beloved father, an Anglican clergyman—one of many fascinating malopropisms uttered in his old age. I hope I’m half as funny when my time comes. (You will tell me, won’t you?)
15 thoughts on “Mind, remind me — a poem about malapropism in old age”
This is glorious. Love it. My father’s solution to the name game was to call as many people as possible, Fred, in private of course. I am starting to follow his example ie the Fred who works at the shop down the road, the Fred who delivers the mail. Frederica is for women, but that’s my invention. Dad’s was “what’s her name.”
An excellent strategy! The key seems to be treating the forgetful incidents lightly, no big deal: the opposite of catastrophizing. I must remember that 🙂
I agree, glorious.
I love thinking of the Holy Spirit as Golden Syrup. I see his point.
I don’t think it’s blasphemous at all, I think it’s interesting and creative!
You are right. He had a big vocabulary ready to proffer assonance and paraphrases 🙂 I hope I have that capacity when I need it.
Hi Rachel – what a brilliant post – loved it … such fun to read – yet I had to find out about ‘Muehlenbeckia astonii’ – so made me ?learn about the New Zealand rare plant … just a delight and I too hope I age quietly with words and creative images. Cheers Hilary
Thank you, I am so glad you appreciate my father, Hilary.
I will now only think of Golden Syrup when reciting ‘Our Father’. My Catholic uncle showed my Protestant husband how to cross himself correctly and remember it, ‘Spectacles, Testicles, Wallet and Watch’.
Oh yes, that was a handy little rhyme that even protestants used to know 🙂
Like me. That was in the Olden Days when …
This is wonderful. What fun to read. I forget names just as I’m about to say them. “Test guy…”
It’s that quick, yes.