Saturday, September 25, 2010

Kee Heep

My dad was a farm boy and the phrase "kee heep" was used to call the cows! It was a peculiar throat sound! The shrieking and shrill "e" sound of kee heep carries a distance and was invariably pleasing to the recipients since it meant food and drink. If one of us boys was at a distance and he wanted to get our attention he also hollered "kee heep." Often it was also for food and drink. My dad was not a soft spoken man. I don't think either the farm or the railroad environment lent itself to being easily heard, given the distances, or the noise levels. If dad made himself available, he always said "Holler if you need me." He was not hard of hearing. Holler was a figure of speech, but for him it was literal as well. It was particularly useful in hockey and ball games, then generally fashioned with some colorful phrasing. My dad always whistled while he worked as a young man and particularly when he rode his bicycle to and from work. As he became older he stopped whistling as he worked, but could still whistle a little if he sat and caught his breath. He stopped hollering and stopped calling "kee heep". You need breath to holler kee heep and to whistle. The cigarettes had finally caught up with him and he became progressively disabled with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, COPD in the lingo! He was still cheerful, but quieter! He latterly was largely confined to his chair and the oxygen tank. The day before he fell and cracked his hip, and two days before he died, the oxygen man who visited him to replace his tank observed," Mr.W is cheerful and doing well,in his slippers, washing the breakfast dishes." Wellness is relative! He has been dead some 20 years, but I still think back to the hollering "kee heep" and whistling merrily the same monotonous tune . You could always tell he was coming on his bicycle from a long way off.

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