“Be Careful Little Mouths” – A Verbal Legacy Passed Down through Sunrises

I watched the sun rise this morning. My balcony faces west, toward the Everglades, and I can see the reflection of the morning sun in the facing sky. I love the silhouette of the palms in stark contrast to the soft pink sky. The fresh ocean breezes usually sweep right in over the spanish-style rooftops and provide the perfect accompaniment to the visual symphony. Today was no different. Another spectacular rendition. Both the coconut palms and traveller palms seemed to wave a welcome to the fuzzy pink as it strengthened and grew to a darker red. Marvelling at how something so simple could be so beautiful, I heard my Grandmother Betty’s voice echo, “Red skies in the morning, sailors take warning. Red skies at night, sailor’s delight.”

This saying is one of those things that has proven utterly non-functional in my life to date, but remains some of the dearest words of my childhood. I remember clearly when GMB would recite this little ditty to my cousins, siblings and me. No doubt it was a legitimate cautionary weather advisory passed down from years of fishing with her father and then sailing in the annual Mug Race on the St. John’s River. Because I adored her and because I have always wanted to be just like her, back then, I listened carefully as she stressed the importance this nautical lesson. Still a child, I imagined my adult self waking each morning to check the sky for signs of red. I made a mental note that this would be one of the important things about being a “grown up” along with balancing a check book and wearing corsages to church on Easter. I’m not sure if I thought I’d be yachting to work or living on an aircraft carrier, but dang! Making that daily determination was surely a sign of a grown woman!

These days, that red sky serves a very real purpose for me, assuming I have the luxury of catching a sunrise. In those brief moments before the heavy, pregnant red burns up into the early stages of blue, I am cautioned to think consciously about my day and what it will bring. Now that she is gone, her words serve as a call to live with purpose and determination and appreciate the wisdom that I carry with me from those who have helped shape me.

I wonder if she had any idea how that little phrase would become a part of her legacy. It has become a verbal tradition in our family, along with quite a few other choice tidbits. I also wonder what colloquialisms I will share with my grandchildren.

What interesting sayings or ideas helped shape you? What words will you be known for quoting and how do you think the next generation will apply your thoughts to their own lives?

You are reading, Be Careful Little Mouths” – A Verbal Legacy Passed Down through Sunrises  originally posted on PollySentrick.  If you’ve enjoyed this post, please be sure to follow PollySentrick on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ and Pinterest.


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