Saturday Stories: The Family Gag Reflex

There are some inherited traits that run in families that end up being almost legendary.  One such is the gag reflex that many of us inherited from my paternal grandmother.

When I was about six, my parents hosted a reunion of Dad’s immediate family.  His two sisters came with their families along with my grandmother.  We had a large yard.  Badminton was set up in one area, a barbecue was going in the back and most of the adults gathered under the shade to tell stories and laugh.  My grandmother, ever the helper, started to gather up used paper products to throw out.  Granny was a short woman who suffered from arthritis and osteoporosis.  She was naturally stooped as she walked.  After filling a sack with garbage, she asked my mom where the garbage can was kept.  Mom directed her to the garage.  At this time, we had a German Shepherd.  Mom had a smaller garbage can for the dog doo right next to the large one.  Mom saw that Granny was making for the shorter can and poked my Dad, pointed and said, “Watch this!”  My dad, in turn, whispered to his two sisters, “Hey, watch this!”  Sure enough, within  seconds, loud sounds of gagging proceeded Granny from the garage as she came hurrying away from the offensive can.

Interestingly enough, Granny loved Limburger cheese.  It has to be the stinkiest, strongest flavored cheese around.  One time, when my parents were dating, my dad asked to try some.  He couldn’t get it to his mouth, the smell was so strong.  Instead, he threw it off the porch, onto the ground.  Pretty soon, one of the family cats found it, sniffed it and started to cover it up.

My youngest brother inherited that gag reflex.  He was constantly tormented by the rest of the family.  If anyone passed gas at the table, he would have to leave the room gagging.  One time, the family was traveling through Kansas.  The oldest brother saw the feeder lots coming up and rolled down the window so the smell would waft back to my youngest brother.  It’s a good thing they are best friends as adults!

The next generation is already showing signs of another gagger.  My youngest brother’s first son, who is less than two, gags at anything that smells bad.  It makes us smile as we foresee many more stories that we can pass along as time goes on.

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