Laughter helps sustain us, even through the perils of aging

Age does not eliminate the ability to laugh.  That’s one thing that keeps us going.

Too many seniors think that they can’t laugh any more; there is no longer any reason to laugh. I think at least a trace of a sense of humor is hiding in one of the tiny computer links in everyone’s brain. Only sometimes it’s awfully hard to find.

The prize for humor under stress here in the Commons goes to my friend who is just a month away from her 99 birthday. She has aged with grace, and always has a smile. One day, against official advice, she rolled her wheelchair outdoors without an RA alongside. She failed to see that she was approaching a curb, and down she went, face first, with her chair on top of her. Fortunately one of the staff members saw her go down and rushed to her aid. She sort of got her bearings, looked up at him and said, “What am I doing lying the pavement with a chair on top of me?”

Tragedy and pain hit us all in varying degrees. There are many stages of disability. Funny things keep happening, though, sometimes even caused by the handicap itself.

I don’t hear very well, and last week at breakfast a woman at the table was ordering. I could have sworn I heard her say, “and some catnip please.”  “What?” I almost shouted. After we all quit laughing, we tried to figure out what she might have said. Sounds get mixed up, and I misinterpret a lot of things people say, but we laugh at them.

One potentially very serious problem is macular degeneration, but sometimes even it has a funny side. There are some weird false images people see.

When watching television, I often see old buildings, antique cars driving along and people walking and waving. I keep thinking I should wave to them.  One woman I know sees children playing in a park.

Sometimes your spacial judgment is wrong, too. I have to laugh when I can’t position my tooth brush under the water to clean it. I question my friends’ driving sometimes. When they swing in to a vertical parking space, I think they are heading straight for the car on the right. Fortunately they always miss it!

Pets bring lots of laughter. One resident has a little dog, Maya. He obviously has fun with her and the little, black, furry creature with a wiggly tail brings lots of pleasure to all of us. I had a good laugh when my cat, Mercury, learned to tell time. Promptly at 8:00 p.m., he announces it’s time to be brushed. Of course, I do it.

And then there is my friend who is facing cancer and is still laughing. She promptly shaved her head and has a most wonderful attitude. She has had three chemo treatments and has sent her friends reports on each. Here is part of her Chemo 2 report.

“Okay so I am trying to find the silver lining of wearing Granny Super Socks, the medical world for compression stockings.

“When I first took them out of the box, they looked like stockings for a new born or pet monkey — they were tiny. I wondered if I should start by hooking them up to the fence stretchers, the thing that stretches the wire to make the fence tight, but thought better of it and PREPARED to do battle with my stockings.

“Meanwhile back at the sox-wiggle competition, I was smart enough to get the ‘open toe model.’ So I have a full opening at the toe. Well when I did that, I got to the toe end and I had a huge glob in my hand and a teeny weeny opening at the toe, about the size of ONE toe.  So I learned to partially gather and begin the “ramming in method.” This activity is enormously aerobic, heart rate went up, my bald head began to sweat and I exercised all those small muscles in my hands and forearms. I got one on but now it was so tight that when I pulled the plastic bag out the toe — woops — it tore apart! Now I had a tight stocking with some horrible plastic part way up my leg. I lay back in the chair laughing. What was I thinking! So, I called out to Merce, she came to my rescue and we started over. And we got them up and running.”

Whatever our physical condition, life would be really dull without a little fun in our lives.

Henrietta Hay can be reached by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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