5.) Humour is transformative magic. Find it wherever you can.
“Kira’s a little sensitive about her haircut,” I warned my friend Bunny after we’d tried a new groomer. When I let the dog out of the car, Bunny took one look and cracked up: “What did the groomer think she was doing, shearing a sheep?” Kira had ended up with a flat head and legs that looked like rats had been chewing on them. Well, fur grows back.
My buddy Joy has had a demanding summer caring for her father. She’s been back and forth from this island to Vancouver Island a dozen times, fixing plumbing leaks, selling his house, cleaning years worth of useless stuff out, then moving him into a nursing home where he immediately started to raise hell. Okay, so the man has had strokes, has dementia and paranoid delusions. But being kicked out after a month in a nursing home? That’s painful.
After much research, Joy went back to help her dad again. A recent text said, “I’m taking my dad for a tour of a complex care facility this afternoon. Wish me luck!” Later in the afternoon, “My dad is in tears. The complex care place is perfect but ‘it’s filled with old people!’ So says the 94-year-old.”
Obviously he didn’t find it funny, but we did.
The day our mom died, my brother Geoffrey flew from Calgary to Vancouver so I wouldn’t be alone at Mom’s place that night. We met at the front door and hugged. I was cold and couldn’t count how many cups of tea I’d drunk. I was so glad to see my brother I was almost in tears at his kindness; he taught at U of C and I had no idea how he got his classes covered so fast. The last time I’d seen him was the year before on the other side of the country at our dad’s funeral. We both loved our parents greatly. Now we stood facing one another in Mom’s hall with its green shag rug and the overhead glass ball lights straight from the sixties, and with a straight face, Geoffrey said, “We have to stop meeting like this.” When we’d picked ourselves off the floor—black humor is funniest to those who are in shock—he said, “I guess we’re orphans now.”
Laughter throws a temporary bridge between how things are at the moment, stark, and how we’d like them to be, which is a great deal more on the sunny side. Laughter takes us to a place where somehow, things are going to be okay. I’m deeply grateful for that kind of transformative magic.