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April 21, 2021

Sam Post: Advice on life and grammar … and a soapy lesson

My mom gave me so much advice on every topic imaginable with such frequency that I stopped listening.

We argued a lot. She told me to get a master’s degree. I did not. She told me to study and make A’s. I did not. She told me to get up out of bed earlier. I did not. She told me not to drink or do drugs. I did.

Believe it or not, that way of relating was highly instructive.

All of this was given by her huge, unconditional, never-give-up love for me. And I loved her and still do, more than words can convey. She was a great mom and a great grandmother.

I do remember her telling me to avoid using words that end in -ly or -ing. That’s good advice. She told me hundreds of times to start a new paragraph. (Is that advice?)

I also remember her washing my mouth out with soap. The chatter among the eight of us (two parents, five children, one grandmother) at the dinner table got so loud and out of control and flat-out disrespectful that she declared that the next person who said the words “shut up” or “stupid” would get his or her mouth WASHED OUT WITH SOAP!

She wasn’t much for spankings or switchings or any type of corporal punishment. Mom’s punishments came in the form of a lecture. And she had never washed anybody’s mouth out with soap.

So I guess I was testing her ability to keep her word.

About five seconds after she said that, she started to tell us something, and my brother interrupted her. I came to Mom’s defense, saying to my brother, “Shut up, Stupid. Mom’s talking.”

I still remember the pained look on her face when she marched me over to the kitchen sink and washed my mouth out with soap.

To this day, those words do not come out of my mouth easily — and I wince a little when others say ‘em.

That’s not advice, per se, but it’s nice little lesson learned from Mom.

Rose Post was a longtime reporter, feature writer and columnist for the Salisbury Post.

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