This I Believe

Janet - Springfield, Virginia
Entered on May 10, 2006
Age Group: 65+

A friend told me this story about her neighbor, a 6th grade teacher. She had assigned her students a book report of a famous person. When the due date arrived, she was pleasantly surprised when one of her least attentive, most rambunctious (and not the smartest child in her class) handed in a report on the Yankee outfielder, Mickey Mantle. She called him to her desk and said: “Johnnie, this is really, really good. There is one thing, though; “who wrote this? You need to have the author’s name.” Undaunted Johnnie wandered to the back of the classroom where there was a mini library. After scanning the collection, he returned all smiles, as he handed his paper back to the teacher. It read: “Mickey Mantle … by Edna Ferber”. Without the slightest twinge of conscience, he found an author, any author and attached it to his report.

Each time I think about this story, I laugh; sometimes right out loud even when I am alone but mostly when I share it with others. It feels good to laugh and I love how laughter brings us closer together. Often, as in that story, we laugh because of an incongruity. But laughter offers us more….

In 1992 my mother moved to a retirement home near me. I often took her to lunch, shopping, appointments, etc. It was a difficult adjustment for both of us and she pushed my buttons frequently as no doubt I did hers. When she was about 93, I took her out one afternoon and had become hopping mad at what I perceived as her egregious behavior toward me. I was livid! So angry I could barely breathe, I charged home, flung open the door, marched into the living room where my husband was sitting on the couch reading the newspaper. I stood in front of him with flailing arms and bellowed: “that’s it! I am never going live long enough to be like her. I am checking out in 2023. I don’t want to ever get like that. You can be sure that I’m leaving this world in 2023”. My husband, who had been silent throughout my tirade, calmly peered over the top of his paper and said: “sure, leave me to take care of your mother”!

The tension that had engulfed me moments before dissolved in a flash as I was soon laughing so hard I had to sit down. We laughed about that incident for years– although some times apprehensively as she lived to be 102 ½! Laughter brings relief. It also helps to heal the mind, body and spirit.

I believe that laughter is essential to a healthy marriage; for me, it is the talcum powder that keeps my husband and me from rubbing each other the wrong way. There is an old Yiddish proverb: “what soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul”. I believe in laughter.