Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Remember To Laugh

I think what has impressed me most about my mother's ordeal is that she has maintained her sense of humor throughout. There were endless forms to fill out before the surgery. Check the box: married, single, divorced, widow. After checking "widow," she was asked: Since when? She wrote: "Since my husband died." Well, it was funny at the time; the two of us had a fit of the giggles that lasted into the examination.

Even now (after another operation this past year for a melanoma), she tries to find the bright side. She called me recently after eating one of the meals—grilled tuna—Doug had prepared for her to heat up. We put put labels on all the food containers we leave in the refrigerator. Usually they are specific—talapia with grilled vegetables, turkey meatballs with spaghetti and sauce. This one I had labeled "fish." Why? Because the only kind of tuna she likes comes out of a can.

"This fish was good," she said. "It wasn't labeled. What did I eat?" she asked.

"Tuna," I replied.

"Do I like tuna?" she asked.

"No," I told her.

"Well, then it's a good thing that I lost my memory," she quipped.

My mother was always the first one on the dance floor at a wedding or Bar Mitzvah. She was the first to volunteer, the first to sing, the first to laugh. She clipped cartoons that made her smile and put them in a binder in the bathroom. (As I said, she could find the humor almost anywhere.) As a child, I didn't appreciate those qualities. I was too busy being embarrassed, as kids are wont to do. Now I recognize what an amazing gift she was trying to give me.

I want to remember to grow old with humor. I want to share funny times with my children, my family, my friends. I want to keep laughing until I shut my eyes for the final time.

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