Dear Mom,

As I was driving to see you in May, I listened to several interesting radio programs and talk shows. One I’ve already written about (“Mothers And Phone Sex. Really?) Another less controversial program I listened to reminded me of a writing seminar you and I attended together many years ago.

One of the speakers told the participants to practice writing tight, with as few words as possible to make the point. As a warm-up exercise, he gave us ten minutes to write as many descriptive sentences as we could. They could be descriptions of characters or locations or any of the senses, but each sentence could not be longer than ten words. The winner with the most sentences won an autographed book by the speaker. I don’t remember who won or what the sentences were. I do remember that I showed you one of my sentences and you showed me the beginning of a poem you’d decided to write instead.

The writing seminar allowed ten-word sentences. The radio program I listened to asked callers to come up with five-word messages that could become mottos or bumper stickers. One of the callers offered “Tell The Truth, You Liar” and “Don’t Fix What’s Not Broken.” Those are the ones I remember (I was driving, after all).

That afternoon while you napped in the recliner, I took out a notebook and decided to record as many three-word messages and mottos I remembered  hearing as I grew up. Here’s what I came up with:

~ from sports: “Cover your bases” and “Play to win”

~ from Dad: “Do your best,” “Figure it Out,” “You did what?” and “For Pete’s sake”

~ in general from TV or at school or with friends: “Do your homework,” “Make your point,” “Clean it up,” “Don’t you dare,”  “You wanna bet?” and “Not so fast”

~ and from you, Mom: “Say your prayers,” “Don’t give up,” “Are you sure?” and “Say you’re sorry.”

My favorite three-word message is the one that you say at the end of our telephone conversations, when, at least for awhile, you knew me and what we were talking about: “Love you, darlin’.”

Love you, Mom.


BLOG FRIENDS:  Share your  THREE-WORD mottos or messages.


Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, driving laws, memories for great-grandchildren, writing, writing exercises

25 responses to “EXACTLY THREE WORDS

  1. Really sweet. I figure the best three words are I love you.

  2. Molly

    I agree….the best three words, at least from Grandma, are “Love ya, Darling”….there is something in the way that she says it, that it means everything in the world….I am not sure if it is her Kansas “twang”, or her sweet voice, or what exactly….but you know when she says it, she means it with all her heart.

    Another one of Grandpa’s 3 word phrases was, “Always go right!”….now 34 years old, I know that this was a political statement of his….but at a very young age, I really thought that he meant always go right – like turn right at every corner, so I was really confused….but then as I got older, I thought it was him telling us (the grandkids) to always do the right thing. Well in an election year, I know which way Grandpa would have voted….but in my life, I like to go with it meaning to always do the right thing.

    Thanks mom for another brilliant blog!!!

    • Grandpa (my dad) always said, “I’ll take vanilla,” and a host of other little expressions. One of his favorite things to say when you were a baby and holding you, showing you off to admiring friends, was “She’s a keeper.”
      Grandpa and Grandma always loved their grandchildren so much, and nothing made them happier than to have everyone together and you kids tumbling around the house.

  3. My opening three words to my grand kids every time I see them or msg them is, “Your are gorgeous” or, “you are beautiful” gets a smiling thank you, every time

    Although one normally responds Holly aged 5 (or is it 6 I get confused) (or as I sometimes call her – Damien) in a three word response, “you’re a muppet” after I have apparently said something funny, or stupid, again

  4. How nice you went to a writing seminar with your mom. What a nice memory. I wonder if they ever made the bumper sticker “Tell the Truth, You Liar.”

    Anyway, great post as usual. I love hearing about you and your mom.

  5. Jim

    Rock on, Marylin. You go, girl!

  6. Talking with a friend a few minutes ago about creating a web site I suggested “just do it” . Often easier said than done…oops that’s 4 words. Fun exercise!

  7. Willow

    OK!!!!! I’ve got some.

    Ever since my dad was one of the greeting card winners, he thinks he’s the writer. So here are some of the 3 word messages he uses.

    Clean your room.

    Eat your vegetables.

    Get a job.

    And then there’s the one on the poster at school. Just say NO.

    I think that it would be fun to see what other people have as there three word phrases.

    • Well done, Willow! During the last writing contest, Missouri was well represented by your entire family. Glad to see the writing continues with you. We’ll see how many others come up with Three Word comments. If your dad adds “Do the dishes” to all the other chores you list, tell him to “Get a grip”–but say it with a smile.

  8. Margaret C.

    Hello Marylin!

    I really like this blog story! Parents, schools, and church do seem to stick to three words as a rule! This is my favorite and it goes with the message on my mother’s day greeting card that I had submitted for the contest.

    Mother chose life!

    Love all babies!

    Adoption Not Abortion!

    Hopefully more people continue to put their favorite 3 word sayings on, it is fun to read through them. Thank you again for having such a lovely blog!

    • Good to hear from you, Margaret. After your greeting card entry was a winner in the contest, I was thrilled to learn you’d gone to the card writing website and were learning how to submit more cards. Keep up the good work and the writing! Like you, I love reading all the 3-word sayings that people are posting, and I hope to read more.

  9. Kana Tyler

    Trying to think what my own kids would identify as MY three-word motto… Might be “Care to rephrase?” which is the response they get from me when they make a demand rather than a polite request… (Most commonly occurring in the first day-or-so when they’ve just come from their dad’s house, go figure…) 😉

  10. My favorite three word phrase is Just Do It from Nike. I use it for me and I use it with my kids when they whine, complain or say they can’t do something. I’m all for perseverance and it sums it up in 3 words. I love you, of course, is lovely too! My favorite word out of my kids’ mouth? Mama. Especially when it comes with a big hug!

  11. Two-word message: Well Done!:)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s