Laugh at life.
Laugh at yourself.
Laugh with your kids.
Laugh when you want to cry.
All words spoken from my wise mom.
I've said it before, I will say it again. It is totally appropriate that mom's initials were LAF---sounding out "laugh". Because laughter is a large piece of character my mom portrayed. And one which she taught me.
I'm often told I'm too serious. Truth is, it's true. I struggle to laugh at myself. I cry more than I laugh. Sad fact. Truth is, I love to laugh. It feels wonderful. It's contagious. I love to laugh so hard I cry joyful tears or so hard I cannot breathe. I never laughed with anyone like I laughed with my mom. It's because she taught me to laugh. She taught me to laugh at life. And to laugh at myself. And to laugh with my kids. And to laugh when I want to cry.
My mom certainly was serious when it was appropriate. But more often than not, you would find mom laughing or smiling or singing or doing something joyful. I grew up laughing a lot. Somewhere along the way, between lifes worries and cares and stresses and concerns, my laughter became not as strong as it once was and I long to find the laughter in the every day moments again. When mom got really sick I think I lost a piece of my laughter. It's time I found that again. It's time I teach my kids what my mom taught me. Life is too short to miss out on laughter.
Laughter in the ridiculous things that happen.
Laughter in tickling.
Laughter in playing games.
Laughter in God's beauty.
In fact, I cannot help but laugh in thinking about some of the things mom taught me and the times we laughed. We laughed while we played games- especially the game PIT. If you don't know what that game is, it is too complicated to explain here. But it involves a lot of yelling and trading and getting loud all at once. One evening we were playing this game and my friend, Courtney, was over. We were all really into the game. When Courtney's dad came to pick her up, his face was one which was wide eyed and total surprise, because he came in on the middle of the game. We were all yelling, and then there was my mom, laughing so hard at one of the factors of the game that she was crying. Literally. It was ridiculous. Ridiculously fun. Laughter.
In Mary Poppins, the movie, at the end, the old man banker died of laughing at a joke that was told. He laughed so hard he wheezed. Mom would do that and she got tagged with "the Old Man Laugh".
My friends loved my mom because of her laugh. Everyone loved mom for that.
Mom had the ability to laugh at herself. On rare occasions I can remember her saying something negative towards herself, so she wasn't perfect. But more often than not, she would laugh at herself. Case in point-one time I remember we were in the car with her and we also had her best friend and her best friend's child. I was fairly young. But mom drove down a one way street the wrong way. It was oddly enough, a wrong way on a one way street right by the police station. I can remember a police man waving at her, saying "Wrong way!" She could have put herself down in that moment , or she could have gotten mad. (here's where I say if it were me today doing that, I would have said some ugly words to myself and put myself down). However, mom didn't do that. She laughed. She said "oh, brother!" and she laughed. I know she was likely embarrassed at the event, but she laughed instead of getting mad. Laughter goes so much further.
Some days, when I feel down, I can hear mom telling me to sing a song. I have now found myself teaching my kids that (and to be honest, found myself doing the same on rougher days). There are many songs that make me laugh when I choose to remember them-songs mom taught me. There is this one song though, from childhood, that always makes me smile no matter what. The first verse sings "The joy of the Lord is my strength" You proceed with a few verses and the last verse you simply sing "ha ha ha ha" as if it's laughter, to the tune of the song. Mom would sing that, and it doesn't matter if I was 3 or now at 30, by the middle of that verse of the song I am laughing. My son thinks I'm crazy when I sing it.......but he is always laughing by the end of it. My daughter tends to take after my serious side, and she is usually laughing by the end too. I love those lessons mom taught me.
When mom was towards the end and I was working through all her photos, I found her baby photo. I know it's going to sound strange, but even in her baby photo, she was laughing, and I found that so appropriate for her.
I wish she were here many days to remind me to laugh. But she is in a place of eternal laughter now. And though she is gone, her life lessons are still with me. It's just a matter of me remembering them. Such as now.
So on that note, I will go about this day laughing. With the joy of the Lord and the lessons of mom in my memory.