This Side Up

The power of laughing


A laugh can be the best cure.

That seems difficult to comprehend when times are tough and the situation is hardly a laughing matter. Laughing seems cruel on such occasions, cold hearted and insensitive. Yet humor can provide such release.

I didn’t know what to say when a good friend asked if I was going to write a story about her mother. No question, there was a story. It was a serendipitous situation where quite literally the mother ended up being a star of the show and she didn’t really know it. I knew it would be good story and fun to write, but somehow I just hadn’t gotten around to doing it.

“You know she’s in hospice,” my friend said.

I knew then I couldn’t wait. Two days later they came in. I found it hard to believe the mother was terminally ill. She didn’t once mention her illness and we had a delightful conversation. The story was fun to write and as you may imagine, I didn’t say anything about her condition. As you may have guessed, the reason I’ve chosen not to use their names is because I feel they would prefer it that way, although given what you’re about to read you may wonder.

How could this be humorous?

That happened Friday when I crossed paths with my friend.

“How’s your mother,” was one of my first questions.

“Oh, she’s going to be the longest survivor in hospice,” she answered with a laugh.

What was I to say? “That’s wonderful,” although I imagined the situation must be a strain on my friend. There didn’t seem to be an appropriate response, so I said nothing.

That wasn’t the end of it, however. My friend revealed her mother had decided to give her body for the benefit of science. She would donate her organs and the body would go to a medical school in Boston. I was still tongue-tied. “That’s generous,” or “how thoughtful,” didn’t seem appropriate. I remained silent only to be startled once again.

Apparently mother and daughter had planned this out. There is a potential complication, however. What if the mother died on a weekend when the medical school couldn’t pick up her body until Monday? What would they do then?

Apparently my friend’s mother had the answer. She suggested her daughter bundle her into her car, put a pair of sunglasses on her face and a hat on her head and drive her to Boston.

I was incredulous.

“Are you serious?”

“Oh, yes,” my friend assured starting to laugh. It was contagious. I started to laugh and so did someone else who was a part of the conversation. As macabre as it seemed, the image of my friend taking her mother on one final drive and what might happen if she had to put in a call for road service or was pulled over by a cop couldn’t leave my head. What then? The more absurd it was the more comical it became.

Last I knew the mom was still going for the hospice record.

Of course, there can’t be such a thing, but the mere fact that her daughter refers to the situation in such terms and that her mother plans to make it to Boston regardless of when her time comes, has me laughing.

It seems to me that mother and daughter have learned the power of laughing.


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