I just finished reading a series of adventure books written for middle school kids. I know, I know, I’m long past middle school – but they were fun! They featured a brother and sister involved in ancient Egyptian magic. The conflict was between order and chaos, and words were extremely powerful in the struggle. Words were called the “divine instruments of creation.” I couldn’t help thinking how true that is. “Let there be light, and there was light.”
Words are a wonder. I recently saw the play “The Miracle Worker” and was struck again with the power of words. It was words that freed Helen Keller from her personal prison.
Words were such a loved thing in our house. Our parents loved reading. I’ll always remember how choked up our daddy got as he was reading the end of “These Happy Golden Years” to us three littlest girls. Our mom loved crossword puzzles, Scrabble, Boggle, and getting a perfect score on Reader’s Digest’s “How to Increase Your Word Power” quiz each month. She was almost impossible to beat at anything involving words. I guess it was inevitable. Take a plentiful supply of words, add in a couple of creative parents and kids, and strange things can happen. Language is the one thing on the planet that truly does evolve, and at our house, it evolved with a vengeance! Whether it was “drexdriss” (breakfast) or “cryodoctyl” (crocodile) from our baby sister, or “raggy-eyed aggit” (rabbit) from our mom, words did funny things around our house.
And names – well, names are words, after all, so they were fair game, too. Our mother went from being called “Motherly” to “Therlify” to the grand title of “The Therlified One.” And even my Siamese kitten wasn’t spared. Her full title – composed of names from the current radio news and intended to be spoken rhythmically, with a rising pitch and a pronounced crescendo – was “Mahatma Ghandi Gunnar Jarring Ra-wal-pindi.” Our baby sister was Marjorie, or Mahzadeek, or just Maz, or Nubbin (probably a reference to her tininess) which then became Nubbin Toofle (for no discernible reason at all) and so it went.
What fun it all was! And I must confess that in my own home, it’s happening all over again . . .