I just had my annual mammogram. This experience always reminds me of my beloved grandfather, Big Frank — which probably sounds pretty odd, but bear with me.
Big Frank earned his name with his 6’3″ 280-pound frame and his deep laugh. He passed on in 2009, but his words resound on in my head like those of no one else in my life.
One of his favorite expressions, and the one I think of each year during my mammogram, is “Don’t get your tit in a ringer.” He used it to mean, “Don’t get upset.” This expression pre-dated mammograms, so I suspect he meant “teat” and that it originated with livestock. But the world will never know.
My all time-favorite Big Franksim occurred at a Thanksgiving dinner with family at which a Youth Minister was present. The discussion of breast implants came up (what? isn’t that what y’all talk about at Thanksgiving?). Big Frank dead panned, “I don’t know what they feel like, but I heard they taste like chicken.” My mother screamed, “Oh, Daddy!” and ran out of the room. This broke the startled silence and brought out the laughs, especially his own breathless hee-haw.
As you can see, Big Frank did not filter himself, regardless of the company present and certainly not based on content. Years ago, he and my grandmother, Mama Kitty, invited me to bring a date to the lake to go boating. I wore a one-piece backless bathing suit. Minutes after meeting my hapless date, Big Frank said to him,” I like Pamela’s bathing suit, but I think she’s got it on backwards, don’t you?”
Another of Big Frank’s favorite ways to play “gotcha’ (which is what he said when he made someone laugh) was to show off a placard he hung on the bedroom door of their cabin-cruiser boat and on the back of their motor home. I can’t open the door to our own Quacker now without seeing him in my mind’s eye as he would escort new “marks” to read his signs: “If the trailer’s a’rockin’ don’t come’a’knockin’.”
He was a helluva guy. And as I had my “tit in a ringer” last week, I realized that I didn’t even mind it all that much; my mammograms, have, in an odd way, become the time that I remember him, and chuckle.
p.s. I see more of Big Frank in myself than I ever dreamed I would, these days. Anyone else out there have their own “Big Frank”-like stories to share?