Very Superstitious

You can’t escape your past.

The following is a transcript of an actual conversation between my son and myself:

Me: “Don’t walk with one shoe on and one shoe off!”

Ian: “Why?”

Me: “It’s bad luck.”

Ian: “Are you serious?”

Me: “Shut up.”

As usual, this got me thinking.  I didn’t put a lot of thought into it before I told my son not to walk around with one shoe on and one shoe off (by the way, my son hasn’t lost his mind–he was putting on his shoes and thought of something he wanted to tell me, so he came through the house to tell me while he was putting on the other shoe.) Anyway, I just sort of blurted that little bit of age-old wisdom before I even knew it.


Well, because my Granny told me.

I was raised by The Grandparents. The Grandmother’s mother (stay with me here) was my “Granny,” and I loved her with all of my heart.  She was the coolest old lady I ever knew.  She always wore a dress, but she would still work outside, and once she even tied a scarf on her head and went with me on a four-wheeler ride, much to the disgust of The Grandmother.  I have a multitude of memories of her.  She was a major part of my life, and, obviously, a major influence.

It’s funny how our upbringing slips out when we least expect it.  I’m not really talking about the major moral and educational stuff, but those little things that are more like habits and tendencies.  They are drilled into us as we are growing and can’t be undone.

For all of her kindness and humor, my Granny was also very superstitious.  Here is a completely true list of things she warned me about:

  • Never walk with one shoe on and one shoe off, because it’s bad luck.
  • Never rock a rocking chair with no one in it, because it means someone is going to die.
  • If your ears ring, it means someone is going to die.
  • It’s bad luck and bad manners for a woman to whistle.
  • She hated black cats, regardless of whether they crossed her path.
  • She would freak out over a broken mirror–seven years bad luck, anyone?
  • She believed if you said a deceased person’s name too much, it would disturb their eternal rest.
  • She totally believed in ghosts.  She used to terrify me with ghost stories about a house she lived in when she was young.
  • She thought a man could get a kidney infection from peeing into a North wind (not to mention wet shoes.)
  • You didn’t dare walk under a ladder in front of her.
  • Spilling salt would literally ruin her day.

I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones that come back to me on almost a daily basis.  Silly things to everyone–myself included–but you have no idea how they are imbedded in my mind, and, what’s more, how much I catch myself repeating them to my own kids.

Superstition wasn’t the only thing she planted in my mind.  She was also a top-notch story-teller.  For example, she told me a story once about a friend of the family who……wait for it…… got picked up and carried off by a large black bird.  I swear I am not making that up.  Now, before you short-circuit your keyboard with drool from laughing so hard, try to remember I was just a little kid.  You can laugh even harder, if you’d like, at the image of me keeping an eye on the sky whenever I was playing outside.

You might also be amused to know that I link my morbid loathing of vultures to that story.

I bet all of us have some of that stuff buried in the files of our brains–maybe some things we don’t even realize.  Little beliefs and habits that we don’t even think about.  It makes me wonder what I might be passing along to my own offspring.

Oh well.  I can’t worry about that now.  I have to go tell the kids a bedtime story……..


What superstitions did you hear growing up?  I’d love to know, mostly so I can convince myself that I’m totally normal. Check out other great writers hanging out all in one cool spot at!

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6 Comments on "Very Superstitious"

  1. Alison@Mama Wants This
    23/05/2012 at 3:15 am Permalink

    My dad used to tell me if I whistle at night, I’m inviting ghosts in.

    I still don’t whistle. Ever.

  2. Janice
    23/05/2012 at 1:46 pm Permalink

    I love it! Granny always just said it was bad luck, but maybe it is the same idea.

  3. Suzanne
    23/05/2012 at 10:12 pm Permalink

    I can’t remember any wives tales my grandmother told me, but I know I loved being with her, and always asked her to tell me about “when she was a kid” which was even BEFORE the great depression! I will have to ask my 85 year old mother if she can remember any of those tales and get back to you.

    But what I really wanted to tell you is how much I enjoy your writing. Folksy, thoughtful, and highly intelligent. Love it!

  4. Janice
    24/05/2012 at 11:54 am Permalink

    Thank you! I could tell you tales all day long that she told me, and not just tall ones. All about pets she had and people she knew and the things they used to do. I’m a great believer in education, but there are some things that are learned outside the classroom.

  5. Emma @ Your Doctor's Wife
    24/05/2012 at 7:40 pm Permalink

    I hope you don’t mind, but I’m using these all on my kids. They love hearing stuff like this late at night around a bonfire! It freaks them out and we end up laughing at them as they act ridiculous.

  6. Janice
    24/05/2012 at 11:01 pm Permalink

    I don’t mind at all, and if I may say so, my Granny would be thrilled!

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