Remembering To Laugh Along The Way

Today is our wedding anniversary. It might have been predestination or providence or happy coincidence but somehow we met and fell in love. Deb and I started out laughing (mostly she at me) and we haven’t stopped laughing since. There is no one funnier and no one who “gets me” more than she does. The rest is history or rather our story. We were married and we never looked back.

We had no idea what lie ahead in 1975, which may have been a blessing in disguise. We somehow managed to find our way, one step at a time, one day after the next. Usually our plan was “There Is No Plan” and we just dealt with whatever came our way. I don’t recommend it for the faint of heart but so far it’s worked for us. Laughter has helped. And patience. And respect. And love. But we always remember to laugh.

Our journey has had it’s ups and downs. But the downs have been few. We raised three amazing children or more accurately: they raised us. During those days of cribs and diapers and preschool and science projects we usually laughed at our mistakes and prayed that they would create no permanent damage to our children’s physical or mental health. Somehow we all survived and still laugh about some of the funnier moments: Having to explain to a 2nd grade teacher that when our son told his class, “An eagle landed on my arm in our front yard!”, he was just using his imagination and we weren’t actually animal trainers. Or the time when our daughter felt the need to correct her 1st grade teacher’s vocabulary (a trait she still possesses) because, “It’s pronounced pretty, not purdy!” To this day we still call that teacher Miss Purdy. Our baby boy provided most of the laughs but I will forever remember the time that he threw himself on the floor of a department store while having a complete meltdown because we refused to buy him a tiny trench coat. He cried and screamed at the top of his lungs, “But I want to look like Inspector Gadget!”, the cartoon detective. Prying him off the floor while he was wailing, “You’re breaking my little arm!” proved to be less humorous at the moment, but we laughed as we ran out of the mall. Those memories still make me chuckle.

Later a new job offer moved us out of state. What a blessing our years in Wisconsin would turn out to be. Great schools; great neighbors; great friends. We survived the teenage years. Of course, laughter was a necessary ingredient in our survival. Our youngest child took us on some unexpected journeys along the way. Turns out, he was smarter than most of his teachers and certainly smarter than his parents. Ultimately our kids grew up and became adults. Along the way Deb and I tried our hand at adulthood too with limited success. We mostly stayed on the “No Plan” plan and stumbled along in blissful ignorance.

After 11 years in Wisconsin we had an opportunity to come back home to Missouri and took the chance. It was a bittersweet moment: leaving two of our children at the University of Wisconsin, and leaving friends we had come to count on plus a home we loved, to return to our roots. But coming back to family and life-long friends was another blessing in this life we share. The ensuing years would bring great joys and much more laughter. Greatest amongst our joy are our five beautiful grandchildren. Who knew all those years prior that our daughter would find love in Wisconsin and gift us with two of those grandchildren? They along with their cousins provide much of the laughter in our lives today. An added plus is that I’ve been able to recycle many of my old jokes for a new audience. I’m certain that the older grandkids laugh out of courtesy these days, but hey, laughter is laughter. I’ll take it any way I can get it.

Work once again provided an opportunity for a new adventure and in 2012 we lived in England. We often found ourselves laughing at our hapless efforts to carry on as ex-patriots. Our misuse of the language, our driving skills, our tiny washer/dryer and the eccentric neighbors and shopkeepers all offered countless hours of laughter. I’m sure we supplied many a laugh to those who encountered us along the way.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_3412.jpg

Through it all, Deb and I have remained partners, friends, lovers, and two of the funniest people that I know. We have a saying in our house, “Funny Trumps All!” Of course not everything is a laughing matter but even in our darkest hours we have found something to make us laugh. On her deathbed my Mom made us laugh by telling us that although she would miss all of us, she certainly wouldn’t miss Donald Trump. It was her last gift to us all. She took all the sadness out of the room with that simple sentence. Once again she was the Mom who knew just what we needed. I’m sure she’s looking down on us now and laughing at some of our antics.

46 years ago when Deb and I made our vows there were promises to love and honor and to stay together in sickness and in health. There was no mention of laughing. And yet here we are, still laughing all the way. They say that laughter is the best medicine. And I would add that nothing is healthier than being able to laugh at yourself. I suppose God has given some of us more opportunities to do that than others.

A true blessing is having someone to share that laugher. Happy Anniversary – Deb (thanks for all the love and laugher!)



Thumbs Up!

After high school I worked at a big box discount store. I attended a local college and was able to live at home and work part-time – lucky me! Anyway, before leaving for work one afternoon I was roped into helping my mom wash windows. She was struggling to open (or close) a window and while she pushed outside on one sash I pulled on the other from the inside. The ‘stuck window’ broke free and then I managed to smash both of my thumbs between the panes (which should be called pains). Needless to say, I was injured. Both thumbs were bleeding; both thumb nails were split and the ensuing pain was intolerable. BUT YOU CAN NEVER CALL IN SICK TO WORK. Or so was the mantra of my parents (who grew up during the depression and lived through WWII).

So Mom wrapped both thumbs with splints, enough gauze to bandage a head wound and nearly a mile of tape after applying copious amounts of Mercurochrome. And off I went to work.

It turns that opposable thumbs do give us humans a distinct advantage over other species. I couldn’t tie my own shoes. Driving was more than a bit of a challenge (in retrospect my bandaged thumbs were custom-made for hitch hiking). Eating was nearly impossible. Opening a door was comical. But by golly I reported to work as scheduled!

While deflecting questions about “what happened” and avoiding stares from customers and co-workers I quietly sulked and performed my duties (to the best of my abilities). I was assigned to the Paint and Hardware Department so carrying gallons of paint with my thumbs bandaged was particularly challenging. As I was carrying a can of paint, with both thumbs outstretched to the sky, a cute young co-worker from the Health and Beauty Aids Department happened by. She saw me, took one look, and a with a wink and a giggle, proclaimed to all that could hear, “Thumbs up!” With that she skipped off completely pleased with herself, laughing all the way. While I initially fumed, I soon began to realize the absurdity of the situation and my appearance and I began to laugh, too.

The truth is I was intrigued by her quick wit and captivated by her smile. And she had the most beautiful greens eyes I had ever seen. I hunted her down in a stockroom, called her a smart ass and then we both had a good laugh. Laughing at myself eased my pain. It’s amazing how cathartic self-deprecation can be. And that beautiful young lady helped me to see that all those years ago.

I think about her often. And the day that changed my life. You see I married the girl from Health and Beauty Aids. And I thank God that she still makes me laugh today (usually at myself).



Funny Trumps All

In our family we have a saying, “Funny trumps all!” We’re a family that likes to laugh – a lot. In fact it’s hard for me to remember a day that I haven’t shared a laugh with my wife of 37 years. Sometimes we’ve even laughed through our tears. And Deb has taught our children and grandchildren the joy of laughter, too. Of course it helps that we’re all very funny as well. Or at least we think we are. Okay – we are!

Sometimes the need to be funny can be a challenge. Because I come from a family that tells jokes at funerals (my dad) and will make faces when you’re trying to have a serious telephone conversation (Deb and our ill-behaved children). And then of course there’s the deadpan sarcasm (my mom) and the dry sense of humor (my sister-in-law Pat) which at times leaves you wondering if it’s really a joke and that perhaps you shouldn’t be laughing.

And we find situations funny all the time. Our humor is not sophisticated. We will laugh at your jokes (even if we’ve heard them or told them before). We will laugh if you stumble and fall down. We will laugh if you fart. We will laugh at the absurd (like a waitress that has giant “cotton candy” hair) or the mundane (like the way my father-in-law ALWAYS warns us to look out for “the crazies” out there – who are the crazies?). We will laugh at spills, mistakes, mispronunciations, missteps, goof-ups, and someone who has missed a belt loop.

But mostly we laugh at ourselves. And that is the healthiest laughter of all. Being truly funny means understanding and embracing your own foolishness. There’s something disarming about laughter, especially when the laughter is at your own expense.

And remember that God must have a sense of humor, too. If you don’t believe me, take a good look in the mirror first thing in the morning.

Nothing feels better than a belly laugh

So when it doubt, laugh! Laugh out loud. Laugh a lot. Giggle. Snicker. Guffaw. Snort. It feels good and is good for you. I believe a good laugh can clear the cobwebs from your brain. It can ease your burden. Dull your pain. Lift your spirits. And lighten your load.

This being funny thing has successfully been passed down through the generations. My grandkids are funny and they know it. Once when our granddaughter was being scolded (I’m not sure what her offense) our daughter told her “Anna, you are not funny!” Anna responded with a wry smile, “I’m a little funny.” And the scolding ended.

I suppose that funny does trump all.