Peggy Keener: The very wisest of the wise

Published 5:31 pm Friday, January 12, 2024

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Oh, the wisdom of mothers. Mother’s everywhere! Short, tall, skinny, chubby, wrinkly, not so wrinkly and every Crayola color. They know so much. At least I always thought my mom did. That is until I learned the perspicacity of the Jewish mother. Then I knew … yes, I knew … that no mere Presbyterian mom—like mine—would have a fat chance of competing with the deep, guilt invoking perceptions championed by nurturing Jewish women.

It seems that in all areas of life, Jewish mothers take the cake. They simply know stuff that has escaped the rest of us. Recently I came across examples of this. And just to be fair here‘s a warning: Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist and Catholic matriarchs—no matter what mentshes they are—must never try to compete with any Jewish retorts including unspoken/spoken, even hinted-at threats. It’s ‘cuz you can’t win.

This is what I mean. Last week a Jewish friend of mine sent me some quotes from his mother. He began by telling me of the compliment he recently gave her on what a lovely meal she had just prepared. Looking up at him with her all knowing eye, she fired back, “And why wouldn’t it be a lovely meal?” See what I mean? Oy vey! How’s a guy ‘sposed to respond to that?

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Still, if truth be told, you gotta love these ladies. I wish I could come up with such cryptic comebacks. But then I suppose it’s not my fault. It’s all due to the wanting of my Presbyterian upbringing. It simply didn’t prepare me. Take for example the snappy comeback Mona Lisa’s Jewish mother reflected upon seeing the family’s hefty dental bills: “Mona, what a schlemiel you are! After all the money your father and I spent on braces, this you call a smile?”

Christopher Columbus’ mother was equally upset. “I don’t care what you’ve discovered. You didn’t call! You didn’t write!” Arrrrggghhh….

Then there was Michelangelo’s Jewish mom who kvetched as she stood in the Sistine Chapel looking up. “A ceiling you paint? Not good enough for you the walls like the other children? Mikey, do you know how hard it is to get that schmutz off the ceiling?”

Poor piteous Napoleon came home from school one day. His mother took one look at him and declared, “You’re not hiding your report card, are you! Show me! Take your hand out of your jacket and show me!!”

Even Abraham Lincoln, cowering in his log cabin, wasn’t free from Jewish barbs. “Again with the hat! Why can’t you wear a baseball cap like the other kids?”

George Washington’s mother was irate when she threatened, “Next time I catch you throwing money across the Potomac, you can kiss your allowance goodbye!”

Even Thomas Edison did not escape such tirades. His mother remarked, “Okay. okay. So I’m proud of you inventing the electric light bulb. Now turn it off already and go to sleep!”

Another Jewish mother was concerned about her son getting enough sleep. It was none other than Paul Revere. “I don’t care where you think you have to go, young man, midnight is long past your bedtime!”

I actually think we might have agreed with Albert Einstein’s Jewish mother, however, when she critiqued, “Your senior photograph and you could have done something with your hair!”

Mose’s distraught mother wasn’t about to hear excuses for his long absence. Verklempt with emotion she shouted, “Desert schmesert! Where have you really been for the last forty years?”

And finally, we have Bill Gates. Bless his computerized heart. Being full of chutzpah and a billion dollars weren’t enough for his Jewish mom. “It would have killed you to become a doctor?”

I wonder how much guidance I missed out on not having a Jewish mother? I’m thinking maybe a lot. In looking back at my own mother’s advice, it was more along the lines of brush your teeth, make sure your fingernails are clean, eat your carrots and change your underwear everyday. Never once did she mention my not becoming a doctor.

I rest my case. L’chaim … mazel tov!