My dad taught me to laugh. He developed his strong sense of humor when he was a child. He fell off a horse when he was 3 years old, breaking his arm in three places. Back then, the doctors knew much less about how to set bones, particularly in young, growing toddlers. His left arm was much shorter than his right and the fingers of his hand curled in, making the hand essentially useless for normal tasks. He discovered that he could make other kids laugh, defusing their desire to bully him.
He loved all kinds of humor – jokes, stories, pranks, slapstick, puns – you name it. He developed it into an art form, starting as defense, but growing into a wonderful ability to see the humor in most situations rather than allow negativity room to grow. He laughed a lot and drove my brother and me crazy, always asking us, ‘What’s funny about that?’ when there was a joke mentioned.
For a time, my own sense of humor was a bit TOO well-developed. I had trouble accepting a compliment when one came my way. When my DAD said, “Nice dress,” HE was being sarcastic, meaning the skirt was too short. When someone ELSE said it, I tended to react the same way, immediately assuming something was wrong with what I was wearing.
When my dad’s health failed and he was taken to the hospital, he wrote on a napkin there, “Remember me laughing.”
And I do. He would tell elaborate stories, holding everyone around him in thrall, listening to his every word as he built toward the punch line. And HE would laugh, too – helplessly – to the point that, beyond whatever the joke or story was – we laughed watching HIM laugh, full of love for him.
Being able to stand back and see the humor in something really aggravating is one of my survival skills. It makes me able to SEE the aggravation for what it is, and how unimportant it is in the whole of life. It has saved my sweet husband’s bacon the whole time I’ve known and loved him (though I mention that I’m thinking of contracting a man with a backhoe to dig a hole in our back acreage that I can throw my husband in from time to time.) :0) One of the most wonderful things about our life together is how many times we laugh together over something.