Thursday, April 26, 2012

Drive Safe and Sanitary

Last week-end, when I was headed to Billings, I received a sweet text from our daughter, Maria.  In the text I was instructed to "drive safe and sanitary".  In fact, I received multiple similar messages.  Mike also directed me to drive safe and sanitary as I left that morning.  Actually, I stood there until he remembered to say it, refusing to make my exit until he did.  Those are words of love in our family and they pretty much always make me happy.

Reminding a loved one to "drive safe" probably isn't so weird, but are you now wondering if I am known for driving in an unsanitary fashion?  How would someone do that?  Maybe I drive with the windows down and cough out the window at pedestrians?  Maybe I sneeze into my hand and transfer germs onto the steering wheel, endangering the next driver?  Do I throw used tissues willy nilly around the car?  Well, just in case you are worried about any of that, I try my best to cough into the crook of my elbow, pick up any tissues I may use and I even have hand sanitizer in my car and I know how to use it.  Sometimes, if I am sick, I even put a gob of it on my hands and smear it around the entire steering wheel.

When Maria and Mike commanded the "safe and sanitary" trip they were simply carrying on family tradition.  Here's the story, at least my memory of it...  I think it was my great-grandfather who started the strange send-off.

He was seeing off some relatives, you know, how you all stand awkwardly around a car as you say your "good-byes".  That is also the time when someone remembers that they never took photos of their loved ones during the visit so they snap them just before they leave.  In fact, I was fascinated by how many "leaving" photos I saw in the old family photo collection.  The first two below are my Grandma Rose.  Wasn't she a beauty?

Sometimes those send offs take awhile, huh?  Anyway, he started talking without thinking out his entire sentence.  Of course, I've never done that.  He said, "Drive safe and....." I don't know what he meant to say and maybe he didn't either.  Finally, out came "sanitary".  What?

My great-grandfather's words to "drive safe and sanitary" became part of family lore and is now the send-off for multiple generations of descendants, people who live all over this country.  It's silly, isn't it?  I'm sure it brought laughs for awhile, making fun of the original speaker of that odd phrase.  Now, it is just an expected part of our tradition.  I hope none of us become superstitious, thinking we won't be safe if we don't hear it, but it does kind of make us feel sealed with love.  The funny times are when one of us says it to someone outside the family.  Oddly, they just don't get it.  Trust me, I've done it.

I am guessing my great-grandfather had no idea that his quirky little phrase would only gain steam over the generations.  I'm quite certain he never imaged that phrase being texted to people not yet even born when he first uttered it.  I'm sure he never conceived the idea of someone blogging about it.  Funny, huh?  Today, I am sending the "Drive safe and sanitary!" directive to a loved one via this know who you are!

Now, it is your turn.  Anyone brave enough to share some odd little family sayings or traditions of your own?

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