There have been times in my life when I’ve found it difficult to laugh. Sad or challenging situations can make it tough to find the funny side of life. I am thankful that I have been gifted with the ability to find humor. That might be the one thing that has seen me through the challenges of raising children and just life in general.
Patience is important, but kids are always going to keep pushing that one. Maybe it’s three things that have gotten me this far: humor, sarcasm and copious amounts of coffee.
One of my best friends, Amelia, shares my love for the hilarious. In fact, laughter has been the hallmark of our friendship. We love to laugh, and that’s usually what we do when we get together. I remember us dissolving into giggles again and again as children.
Amelia and I were baptized together. In college, we thought we were so cute when we would tell boys that we were baptized together, though for some reason — I don’t know why — her dad, Al, liked to joke that we were baptized in toilet water. We might have been a bit mischievous together.
I spent a lot of time at Amelia’s house growing up. We were always getting together to play and, for a while, Amelia’s mom, Bertie, watched me while my mom was at work. I loved Bertie. She was a lot of fun, too.
So much of my life is wrapped up with Amelia’s family. We went to the same small church, her older brother and my sister were in the same class, our families were friends, and we have been friends since we were babies.
Life was mostly carefree. But then sophomore year in college the bottom dropped out.
Amelia called me on Oct. 23 and told me to come to her apartment because she needed to tell me something. I was on my way to class or work, I can’t remember which, and so I asked her if she could just tell me over the phone. She insisted that she needed to talk to me in person. It was then that I noticed the tone in her voice said that something was wrong.
Amelia told me that her mom, Bertie, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was told she had at most six months to live. At first, I couldn’t even grasp it. I stumbled around looking for the “It’s not real” “It’s not so serious” answer. But there wasn’t one.
Dear Bertie didn’t even make it a month. She truly was a light extinguished. And I was devastated. It was so hard to watch my friend hurting so badly, and there was nothing I could do. For a while, laughter left with her. I could see it in Amelia. I could see it in Al’s eyes; the previously ever-present twinkle was gone.
Laughter was hard to find. But, somehow Amelia and I came up with this obnoxious fake laugh that we would break out on poor unsuspecting people. They would look at us like we were crazy, which we loved, and that would make our laughter real. I am still inspired by Amelia’s ability to see the fun in life, even when she was falling apart.
The summer before we started college, a friend and I went to watch Amelia’s softball game. A ground ball hit Amelia’s shoe and bounced up and hit her right in the nose. We took her to the emergency room. She didn’t want her parents to come. So, I talked to Bertie on the phone to fill her in on what happened. Bertie, of course, wanted to come to the ER to be there with Amelia. I assured her that it was OK and we were nearly done. She said she trusted me and to “Take care of her baby.”
That conversation with Bertie has replayed in my head many times over the years. A parent always wants to know that their babies will be taken care of even if they are not there to do it themselves.
It turns out Amelia and I have needed to take care of each other at times. Five short years after Bertie passed, my dad lost his battle with cancer. She knew what it was like.
This fall marked 15 years that Bertie has been gone. It was 10 years for my dad in 2017. Those big anniversary dates seem to be harder than others. It just highlights the time that has passed since you’ve had your loved one near.
We live far apart now and don’t talk as much as we would like, but we faithfully check in on each other on the anniversaries of their deaths.
This summer we were able to visit and look through Amelia’s scrapbooks. She was a great scrapbooker back then and flipping through them brought those memories back to life.
We laughed and laughed til our kids wondered if there was something wrong with us. It was perfect.
Some look for the silver lining. I look for the humor. I hope these stories bring a little laughter to you, or at least a smile.
Candace Mangold, of Port Townsend, was eating soup and crackers, over the winter break, when her son, Holland, 3, walked up to his mother and asked for three crackers.
“I need one for my master,” he said. “One for my dame (raises his eyebrows), and one for the lil boy who lives down the drain.”
“Oh,” he said. “And one for the road.”
She gave him four crackers.
Erin Raatz, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, was frustrated with her son, Levi, 4.
“Levi, how many times do I have to ask you something before you will actually do it,” she asked.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Twenty?”
Phoebe, 6, was helping her mother, Jocelyn Horton, of Poulsbo, unload the dishwasher. Phoebe was in charge of putting the silverware away. Jocelyn noticed that Phoebe stopped halfway through and asked her why.
“I needed a break,” Phoebe said.
Then Phoebe asked why she has to do “all these things.”
“If I don’t teach you how to clean up who’s going to do it for you when you have your own place,” Jocelyn asked.
“Oh, my kids will do it for me,” Phoebe said.
I would love to hear your funny kid stories, so please send them my way. Parents, teachers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and people who love children, please send your stories and cute kid photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.
Quinn Ward is a former journalist living in Poulsbo. She has been recording the amazing and outrageous things her kids say since they have been able to talk.