F is for Fun
“Laugh often.” (Tim Russert-2006 Women’s Conference)
I had been experiencing a misguided need to stifle my sense of humor after becoming a widow. Still feeling like I was under the social microscope, I was worried that others would view me as irreverent and disrespectful to my late husband’s memory—so I artificially toned down my usual liveliness and sense of fun. Life had already become quite serious for me with its new challenges, but now I was adding to the darkness by dampening my natural buoyant spirit. Fortunately, I was living with two young kids who had not lost their childish ways in the wake of our tragedy. Their innocence was instrumental in guiding me back into the sunshine of my own existence.
At first we started to laugh at ourselves. My son and I laughed together at our first entry in the Boy Scout Pine Box Derby. Our crude, hand-carved car was not exactly on par with the entries of sons and dads who had access to sophisticated power tools and engineering backgrounds. But our creative use of his father’s rusted lead fishing weights, drilled into the undercarriage of the chassis, gave the necessary added momentum to our creation and made us smile as it rolled lazily down the ramp in the elementary school gym. We later observed that all of the seasoned scouts had applied thin strips of metal to the tops of their wooden cars, resulting in the same outcome but with a more sophisticated appearance. We simultaneously laughed at our innocence and ingenuity.
In the summer of 1993, the children and I took a three-week trip to Germany and Austria for a change of scenery and to visit some relatives. It turned out to be the opportunity for many special humorous moments as the three of us tried to blend into a foreign country with zero knowledge of the language. Together we threw off the mantle of our grief and felt the vibrant sensation of laughter ripple freely through our bodies. Spending the nights in cramped provincial inns without the familiar distraction of television, we bonded anew—creating our own nightly entertainment by taking turns washing our underwear in the bidet and sleeping on fragile beds in the tiny room. Experiencing our first nude beach on the North Sea was a family moment that will never be forgotten. As we strolled down the shoreline in our protective American bathing suits, we were confronted by an international skin parade of all shapes and sizes. Our social experience in this situation was zero: we anxiously looked to one another for confirmation of a culturally sensitive reaction. Coming up short, we collectively tossed our social restraint into the surf—giggling discreetly at each passing body. The laughter was returning to our lives. And it stayed.
Life provides us with an abundance of seemingly insignificant giggles. But when they are gathered all together, they can resound in one big hearty outburst.
No matter where you are on your life journey, take the time to smile. Listen to the melody of a giggle. And feel the positive energy from a big, loud guffaw. Life is to be enjoyed and you are the fun maker!
“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”(Dr. Seuss)
What makes you laugh? Did you have fun yesterday?
I did. And I will tomorrow too.
( parts re-printed from Kim Kluxen Meredith’s book “Listen for the Whispers: Coping with Grief and Learning to Live Again” –Cable 2010)