Laughter

My dad suffered all of my life with Crohn’s Disease it is a very misunderstood and painful disease. If you know anything about Crohn’s you know that suffered it the most appropriate word for it. I couldn’t even venture to guess the number of times my dad was in the hospital during my childhood. But I can remember one thing about every visit clearly; they were funny. I know this sounds completely insane but nothing in my family has ever been off limits to teasing, joking or just plain laughing at; not even severe pain and hospitalization. Maybe we were just masking our fear by acting out inappropriately, I’m not sure but I don’t really care because that was just the family we were. The four of us were as close as could be and we took everything in stride, together. If dad was lying in a hospital bed with tubes all around, we were beside him blowing up the rubber gloves or laughing at the absurdity of our lives. It was how we bonded and coped together. At one point my family was being hit from all sides, my mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer at a very young age and my dad’s Crohn’s was flaring up so badly that they decided it was time for an ileostomy while my mom was in the hospital having a mastectomy and chemotherapy. I was in middle school and my brother was a senior in high school. My dad was at the Cleveland Clinic while my mom as at Aultman Hospital in Canton. We shuttled back and forth between the two until they both were able to come home. I do remember being scared but I mostly remember all the silliness. I recall one night waking up to hear some sort of a racket coming from the living room, by this point every little noise my parents made had my on my feet, just in case. As I walked down the hallway I could hear that they were laughing. I peered around the corner to see my dad lying on the couch with my mom hunched over him changing his bandages; clearly her wig had fallen off in the process as it was now on his face. Instead of getting upset or tossing it aside, he had simply made a part in the hair big enough to stick his tongue out and make silly faces at her. To be honest, I couldn’t tell you if he was just trying to make her more at ease of if he was just being a goof, either one is entirely possible. Looking back on it now it seems that the worse the situation, the funnier we managed to make it. Like when my dad was struck by lightning. Oh, you heard me right; my dad was struck by lightning. He was golfing with friends and a storm hit so they all ran to the shelter. There wasn’t enough room for everyone to fit in so my dad stepped out in order to make room for his friends. That’s when it happened. I would like to stop and point something out here in case you missed it. He stepped out of the shelter for a friend, this could be the only line I ever would have to write about him for someone to fully understand the type of heart my dad had and the type of love he gave constantly to everyone. Well, if you know much of anything about lightning or lightning strikes you understand that an incredible amount of electricity runs through your body. By the time I got to the hospital it had been a couple of hours since the strike and they assured us that he was going to be fine but nothing prepared me for what was going to happen when I walked in the door to his room. But I still blame my reaction to it on the amazing sense of humor my dad instilled in me. So, I’m terrified and just want to see him to know that he’s alright. My mom warned me not to laugh  (because of our well-known history) the hair on his head had been singed from the electricity and he kind of looked like something out of a bad movie with his hair standing straight up and smoking. I was prepared for that but I wasn’t prepared, and neither was she, for what we did see. The exact moment we walked into his room, as if on cue, his legs lifted straight up and his arms shot straight out lifting his back off the bed. It looked like he was trying to touch his toes. I could tell that he was asleep and had no idea this was going on. I have no doubt that it was my laughter that snapped him awake. He just looked at us for a minute and started laughing too. Then he motioned for me to come closer and hugged me and told me he was fine but that something in his room smelled like burnt hair and he wished they would clean it up already. Now that I have his disease I find myself treating it the same way he always taught me; laughter is the best medicine.

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