Comedienne Finds Humor in Aging and Aging Parents: Seniors
It was nearly 5:00 pm. My mother and I were at her last doctor’s appointment of the day, and we were sitting together in a tiny examining room. My mother sat on the edge of the examining table, wearing nothing but a paper gown and a smile. I rode around on the doctor’s little, round swivel chair.
My mother sat quietly until all of a sudden she whispered:
“Allie, I have something to tell you”.
My first thought was that she might have goose bumps and wanted me to get her a blanket. Though she looked pensive. Maybe goose bumps were not the issue after all.
I couldn’t imagine what on earth she was about to reveal. Running through my mind were 100 different scenarios. Was I adopted? Am I a result of a liaison with the milkman? Before my mind could conjure up one more thought she said:
“Allie, of all of my children.” and then she suddenly stopped in mid sentence.
Mom, I thought-please don’t make this your last breath and take this with you to the grave. You’ve got to finish this sentence.
This scenario continued to play out like a scene ripped from a B-rated movie. You know the kind where writer Jackie Collins reveals some juicy lifelong confession:
Me: “Mom, what about all of your children?”
Mom: “Allie, of all of my children.” and then she stopped again but quickly resumed
Mom: “I’ve always loved .”
Me: “Mom, who have you always loved?”
And then all of a sudden she blurted out, “I’ve always loved your brother Gordon the most!”
I laughed so hard I practically fell off the swivel chair. And my mother laughed too-so hard that her paper gown ripped down the middle. (Now she really did need a blanket). While it took her a few seconds to realize what she had said, due in part to cognitive memory loss, she quickly added, “I guess I’ll never live that one down.” I was actually quite relieved to find out that I wasn’t a product of the milkman.
My mother is a person who loves to have fun! She was always one to strike a funny pose when having her picture taken. She was famous for putting a piece of dark brown candy paper on her front teeth. She liked to pretend that her teeth were missing. She liked to act silly.
Was I hurt by her confession that she favored my brother over me or my other siblings for that matter? Absolutely not-because I understand where those feelings come from.
She associates fun times with my brother Gordon. She remembers Gordon taking her out for a hot corned beef sandwich at Mel Krupins Deli or going with him to see one of her favorite Motown groups.
She remembers going to my brother’s home for a cookout every 4th of July and twirling sparklers after dark. She remembers sitting on the deck and eating a foot-long Hebrew National Kosher hot dog with what she referred to as her favorite kind of mustard “cheap yellow.”
What’s not to like, I thought? My mother loved to have fun and while her mind and body didn’t always cooperate, it was clear that she still treasured the memories of her fun experiences.
My mother taught me a very valuable lesson, one that I pass along to my audiences. Build an element of fun and humor into everything that you do. Humor is a great equalizer; it helps people connect and then helps them stay connected. Humor is more than telling jokes and funny stories. It’s an attitude-it’s being in the moment and being able to enjoy what is. Using your sense of humor to deflect a serious situation gives you an opportunity to step back from it and look at it from a different perspective. Using humor can help you reduce stress and cope with difficult situations in a healthy, positive, and more productive manner. Humor is pretty much good for whatever ails you. Everyday make it a point to look for ways to add humor to your life, so that you can in turn add it to the lives of those you care about.
The next time I take my mom to a doctor’s appointment we’re going out afterwards for her favorite dessert-a chocolate nut sundae. Gordon, eat your heart out!
_Allie Bowling is a professional business speaker and stand-up comedienne. She shows audiences how to add humor to their work/life activities to maximize their professional and personal relationships. She has first-hand experience with care giving, for at one point she was the primary caregiver for her mother and mother-in-law simultaneously. She can be reached at www.AllieBowling.com._