During times of sorrow and grief, we all need a break from the agony of emotions we face, and humor definitely does give us an occasional break from the heartache. The Bible says: "laughter is like a medicine," and truly that is so.
Though our home is a home of sorrow right now, it is also a home of laughter. It had always been as all three of the kids have a terrific sense of humor. Kristin always led the way, as she was so quick witted. Now that she is in heaven I'm afraid we might have lost the laughter around here, but God knew. He sent us Jamie.
When he was younger, his friends always encouraged him to do stand up comedy ... he has sort of a Robin Williams kind of humor. So, Jamie reminds us to laugh between the tears. I cannot imagine life without laughter. I always strive to give the kids a happy home. I've refused (they make fun now) to allow horror flicks in our home. My reply has always been the same: life is scary enough.
Kristin's life was one that brought joy and so much laughter. Her stories were hilarious and all true. No one I know, has ever had the things happen to them that Kristin did. And, she could tell a story like none other. So many of you have cried with me, and I needed that. Now, laugh with me as I remember some hilarious happenings in my daughter's life.
I'm thinking right now of her freak magnetism. Her youth pastor, Mark Scott, dubbed her a "freak magnet" after she began relating stories of the oddest of odd happenings in her life. They would make us roll with laughter. When she went to college in Florida for some undergraduate work, there was a "gang" of guys in this ultra conservative school that had come from an island somewhere. Well, their "leader" took a liking for Kristin. In the lunch line they would encircle her and sing in perfect harmony: love songs. Her phone would ring at night, and they would sing love songs to her. If you knew Kristin, she did not like being singled out, and she would much rather blend in and not be noticed. This continued throughout the semester, and she left that school glad to be out of the circle.
Later, she looked this leader up on My Space, and he was the leader of a gang ... a real gang with these same guys only in the picture on the web they did not have the conservative hair cut and clothes required to enter this school, but rather donned gang clothes, signs and hair. Freaked out much? Yeah, she was and I was too. Everywhere she went to school, and she ended up going to five colleges and universities and would've graduated in May with a professional counseling degree. But, everywhere she went she seemed to attract really um ... interesting men. I think that is largely in part to her kindness, and also her innocence, let alone her beauty with a beautiful smile that could light up a room.
I remember the article I wrote about Kristin going to Florida with my mom. She was stopped and detained by homeland security due to her name change back to her biological "late" father's name. The hilarious part here is that Kristin would not, and literally could not do anything really wrong. As soon as she seemed the least bit impatient, she apologized. She and I were much like chip and dale on the cartoon ... "no you first, no you go first, oh, no, please go ahead"...you know the drill. So, homeland security detains my baby girl and she finds nothing but humor in it all. Then, on the plane, the middle eastern men she was sitting beside began talking in hushed tones in their own language. They were hiding something and passing it around ... Kristin began to glisten (I taught her pigs sweat, but girls glisten) and she knew she was probably going to Heaven on that day. Then, all at once, her seat mate asked her quietly as her heart pounded: "You wanna cashew?" They had carried on snacks to share during the flight. You may also remember this was the same dude who looked at her and asked if she were married. When she said "no", he inquired "why". She explained that she was awaiting the right man in her life. He laughed and waved his hands at the craziness of American ideas, and then proclaimed ever so loudly: "What? You no want a family?" She said the entire plane looked at her as she turned shades of red. However, she thought it hilarious.
One night she was driving back from a client's house in our area where she did in-home counseling type services, and a deer hit her. Yes, you read that correctly, a deer hit her, she didn't hit a deer. She had stopped, yet it hit her and landed on her windshield. She said, she could see it was just stunned, but did not know what to do. She contemplated turning on her windshield wipers, but the big buck didn't look as if that would phase him, so she just sat there looking eye to eye with the deer until he finally shook it off and slid down off the hood of her car she called "Chevy Chase."
Then the hamster story ... oh my soul, this has to be one of my favorites, as she hated the boys' hamsters. They were always getting out of their cages, and somehow always found where she slept ... indulge me in sharing this one please:
Using the self check out at Walmart on Saturday, I was reflecting on writing and thought about humor as a topic. My problem was that I could not think of anything humorous that had happened in recent days. While musing about the lack of humor in my life, I was scanning my items and chatting with a cashier nearby about the difference in broccoli crowns and broccoli florets. My cell phone began playing the familiar "Gilmore Girls" ringtone my daughter downloaded for me in order to signal her calls ... and my reverie, and scanning was interrupted as I answered. My daughter's frantic voice alarmed me. "Mom, help me. Puppy. Hamsters. Mom, hurry!"
Now, you must understand, this is the same young woman, who never asks for help, refuses to say if she needs anything, and thinks it is great fun to drive the ten-hour drive to Chattanooga, Tennessee in the late hours of the day "because the lights of the city are so very exciting". And she needs me? Jeepers. This is big. "What's wrong, honey?" I replied. Out of breathe she exclaimed, "I'm trying to get Puppy and he's trying to get the hamsters ... he's chasing them all around ... help me mom!!!"
"I'm coming Kristin, get the dog out to the mud room!" I instructed.
She proclaimed vehemently, "I'm trying and he's trying to bite me!" Bite? The old dog barely does anything but eat, sleep and potty. The boys and I literally ran out of Wal-mart as I explained the predicament to them assuring my youngest, that "if Puppy eats the hamsters, we'd go buy another one," in order to diffuse the situation slightly.
I drove like a mad woman thinking about what I might find when I arrived home. Again, my "Gilmore Girls" ringtone signaled Kristin's call to me: "Mom, help me. Please hurry."
"I'm coming babe, try to get him out of the house." I replied.
The plan was made. Joe would take his dog to the mud room immediately and I would investigate for hamster body parts before allowing them to go to the "boy cave-rec room" where the attack had taken place. I flung open the door to find my 22-year-old college graduate daughter, Kristin, on the sofa in the living room with her eyes wide as wide and holding her feet on the sofa while sitting Indian style. Shaking her head she muttered in traumatized tones, "it was awful mom. Puppy went down to the basement and knocked over the hamster cage and commenced to tear into the cage with his nose. The hamsters were shrieking like sirens. Puppy kept flipping the cage and would not come to me no matter how loud I yelled, "Puppy-Rascal-Wolfe." He stuck his rear end in the air, wagged his tail frantically and pounced over and over again chasing "Yoda and Yankee" all over the room.
Eyes still wide she continued, it took eight pieces of pepperoni to lure him out away from them. I hesitantly queried, "did he get them?"
"I don't have any idea," she continued shaking her head with a look of horror.
Joe (oldest son) and I explored the basement with trepidation. Slowing looking around, my stomach felt sick. We walked up to the dismantled cage and lo and behold, there was "Yoda" - Jimmy's spotted miniature hamster. He was back in a corner of the cage shaking and horrified, but apparently unharmed except for possible post traumatic stress syndrome. We quickly cleaned the cage and put it back together inserting traumatized hamster. Now, for "Yankee" - Joe's black bear miniature hamster. We walked from the rec room through the hallway to the laundry area of the basement. Now, remember, my daughter just moved home from four years of college. I have talked to many of you this past week who also have been overcome by the monster of college dorm paraphernalia that spreads like wildfire throughout the house touching every room, nook, and cranny and overtaking your haven like a plague. There it was: the massive pile of college "stuff": A hamster's paradise for hiding and my nightmare for seeking a small and allusive creature.
Still fearing the worse, that Yankee was eaten by the Pyshco-mutant ninja puppy, I began moving the "stuff" and watching for anything that moved. Kristin walked in and announced (now with shoes on her feet and thinking more clearly). "I saw "Yankee" sneaking into a corner as I pepperonied (I know it's not a word) Puppy and lured him out of the attack room and into the mud room. The humor began to set in as we heard the hamster scurrying around. I must admit, I do not do rodents well.
The kids and I began our search amongst the ruble of college memories, clothes, kitchen utensils, books, books and more books. We began to laugh and I don't mean in a whisper. My nephew Matthew texted my son at this point and began adding his uh ... help with phone calls that would continue throughout the entire afternoon. When we told him we thought we heard "Yankee" in the furnace ducts he suggested turning the thermostat up full blastin order to bring him out. Joe then proceeded to talk about the advantages of using my new vacuum cleaner with the see-through canister for those hard to reach places. Jimmy (youngest son) and I continued the search as Joe laid on the weight bench and laughed with his sister and cousin (via the cell phone). They devised various ways of finding the hamster such as Matt bringing his cat in on the search or bringing Puppy back into the basement, or possibly a doggie x-ray just to make sure Puppy did not actually eat Yankee.
After over an hour and a half of searching through college ruble and the rec room, I opened the door to the storage area that contains all of the Christmas decorations and there was the little ball of black hamster. And he was alive. Jimmy began trying to pick up Yankee as he darted under the boxes. We both gently used some giant candy cane yard decorations to poke under and around the room. Then, all at once he showed his head and Jimmy grabbed him firmly as cheers erupted throughout the room. He held up the hamster as one would a trophy and suddenly, Joe the comedian proclaims loudly, "Jimmy, that's not my hamster. It's a rat!" Oh, my goodness. I must say, my heart skipped a few beats on that one as Joe crumbled to the floor in uncontrollable laughter. Both hamsters are alive, but "Yoda" has teeth marks on both sides, luckily the teeth just removed fur and did not pierce the skin, however, both hamsters will now need post traumatic stress counseling and honestly, I believe my daughter probably could use a little too.
Finding humor in the every day situations is imperative to mental and physical health. Now, granted, I would have never shared the above story had the outcome been different nor would I have laughed about it, but afterward, we felt euphoric because of laughing for so long. Laughter definitely increase our quality of life as well as improves our immune system. It improves our lives in every way. A sense of humor gets your over the rough spots and even helps to carry your through some storms.
Now, there is a time for everything and I am the first to admit that you cannot laugh all the time nor would it be appropriate. There are times inwhich your heart is broken, you've lost a loved one, or lost a job or your life has fallen apart, and laughter is not a cure-all, but if we can incorporate humor in the way we view things and lighten up a bit a great truth will be learned: "Laughter is like a medicine." It heals our spirits and bodies and gives us a euphoric "high" the natural way. Some ways to look at things lighter:
1 Refuse to read and listen to every bit of the "bad news" in the world and instead meditate on that which is good.
2. Keep a file of humorous jokes and stories to read when we are feeling down. There are even sites that will email you a joke a day if you sign up for it, and it is free!
3. Watch funny television shows or movies.
4. Surround yourself with positive and fun-loving people.
5. Keep a journal of things you are thankful for and things that are humorous. Write down when your child does or says something that is funny. You think you will remember everything later, but you will not. Write it down now, and you can laugh about it now and later.
When we start to count flowers,
we cease to count weeds;
When we start to count blessings,
we cease to count needs;
When we start to count laughter,
we cease to count tears;
When we start to count memories,
we cease to count years.
(Kimberly Morgan, MA, is a homeschool mom and co-founder of "Kristin's Hope" with her husband, Jamie. She is also a counselor for Cornerstone Christian Counseling located now across from the Railroad Depot in the Bialek building.)