I’ve often felt that there’s something wonderful about families that pepper their conversations with a special vocabulary all their own. Shared experiences create shared memories, often giving rise to a unique, intimate “family language.” Their telegraphic little buzzwords, sayings and mottos sometimes link several generations of treasured family lore. Here are a few that people shared with us:

“Grandma Bessie did it!”

Our very elderly grandmother lived in our home when we were growing up during the 1950s. Whenever our parents got irritated with us and demanded that the culprit come forward (“Who left that bike in the middle of the driveway?!” “Who took my scissors?!”), my brother and I invariably replied: “GRANDMA BESSIE!” More often than not, it made them smile because our lies were so ridiculously transparent.

After Grandma Bessie died, we continued to blame her for everything from unflushed toilets to mislaid keys and lost TV remotes. In the ensuing years we bequeathed the legend of Grandma Bessie to our children, who would use it as a buzzword to defuse our anger, usually disproportionate, about missing household objects or minor mischief.

The legend continues. Recently my six-year-old granddaughter declared (with a wicked twinkle in her eye) that the sticky fingerprints all over my iPad after she played with it, had been left by none other than “Grandma Bethie.”