At the age of 56 I’ve got my share of wrinkles. Most of them aren’t just from smiling but more often from laughing out loud. I was blessed to be born into a family with a great sense of humor. My Dad was always telling jokes or pulling pranks on me. I remember one dinner when my Mom used a table cloth for no apparent reason. It was just a typical weeknight dinner with family. After a while I began to notice that every time I went to eat some peas they were rolling off my plate before I could corral them. My sisters and my folks acted like nothing was wrong until finally they couldn’t control themselves and they all broke up. My Dad had placed an inflatable rubber ball under my plate and he was pumping it up every time I went for the peas. I was at first embarrassed by my lack of awareness but finally joined in with the laughs because it was pretty funny.
When I was really little my Dad would read the Sunday Comics to all three kids as we scrambled to find a place on his lap or on the big easy chair. He always read in character and with as much inflection in his voice as he could muster. We listened intently to his version of Blondie, Pogo, Dick Tracy, Dennis the Menace, Mark Trail, Brenda Star, Lil Abner and Beetle Bailey. It sounds silly now but in the 50’s and early 60’s the Sunday Comics were a major weekly event. It made getting up for church on Sunday something to look forward to and I will never forget it. Mostly, it was just so much fun to be close to my Dad and even my sisters for a half an hour every Sunday. As we got older those readings went away as my Dad volunteered to teach Bible Study at the juvenile delinquent center in Kansas City, MO. Sharing my Dad with kids who had none was a little tough at first but I was really proud of him for doing that.
My Mom and Dad both loved Christmas and they went all out to make it special. I got train sets, building blocks, slot cars, a hockey game and Skittles just to name a few. The best part was they always came assembled and ready to go. It wasn’t till years later, when I worked for my Dad, that I came to understand why that was. He and his employees bought my toys months ahead of time, put them all together and played with them for weeks down at the business. I always wondered why they looked a little worn before I got them. I guess he was just a big kid at heart himself so there’s nothing wrong with that.
My Dad’s sense of humor is unmatched by anybody I know. He always smiled when he was telling jokes and even when he was making fun of somebody it came across as innocent and good natured. That’s a rare ability. I remember one day at work when he was semi-retired, he came in while we were all pretty busy and asked, “Does anybody know who Roy Buchanan is?” Robert, my production manager said he thought he was a musician and asked why? My Dad just said, “Well he’s a little taller today.” We all looked at each other completely perplexed and waited for the punchline, ” He hung himself yesterday.” I think all three of us ruined whatever we were doing at that point and just had to stop everything till we could quit laughing. It was just one of those times when you never saw it coming and to make a joke out of someone’s suicide is almost impossible.
When my Dad became a Grandfather in the 70’s and 80’s he excelled at this relationship. No one could ask for a better Grandpa. He and my Mom are the most devoted and loving grandparents God ever placed on earth. The best part for me was getting to watch him do his funny stuff all over again with a new generation. His grandchildren still tease him about the time he ordered pizzas for a family get together and carried them home under his arm which caused all of the pizzas to slide down into one large gooey mess of cheese and crust. The other thing he will be remembered for is his Easter Egg Hunt. Every Easter he would plan the most elaborate hunt with clues and a map and the kids had to search all over the house and property to find everything. At the end of one of these hunts the last clue was to turn on the ceiling fan in the living room. As the blades began to turn, dollar bills started to flutter down to the waiting and screaming grandchildren. They still ask for a repeat performance of that Easter Sunday.
I will gladly accept my wrinkles in exchange for all the memories they bring me. Life is meant to be laughed at not worried over. The joy that comes from sharing a laugh with your family is the most priceless family heirloom. Smiles, laughs and kindness are the greatest gifts we can give each other while we’re alive and they will provide the most lasting memories when we’re gone. Every day of my life that I can laugh about something or make others smile is a day well spent. Life is just too short to do otherwise. Victor Borge once said something that I think is the perfect explanation, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.