Grief and Laughter


 Tears are expected,
but sometimes laughter feels like the much more appropriate
— and the much more restorative, healing, even — response.
Laughter mixed with tears works, too.
And laughter takes the edge off those times
when tears are, in fact, unavoidable.
— MFS, personal blog

It occurred to me this morning that my thrifty sister would have heartily approved of the tax benefits related to the timing of her birth and death. We Harpers exult in saving money! Margo was born a few days before the end of the year, giving my folks a welcome tax exemption for that short week in 1948. She died at the beginning of January, giving her husband an exemption and joint filing for 2016. Way to win! Take that, IRS!! [Further, the airfare to travel back there was amazingly low. Who travels to Chicago in January?] Time sifts the pain and grief and gives us eyes to see the humor.

This may appear irreverent, but, my brother-in-law and I shared a good horsey laugh talking about it. I can hear Margo’s chuckle in my head and some pseudo-modest acknowledgment: Not bad for a bear with very little brain! [She had a brain tumor removed in 1980.]


I’m An Idiot


I read in a book that the word idiot, from Greek idiotes, wasn’t originally a derogatory term, but just described those who could only speak their own language or idiom. The online etymology dictionary entry says the term described someone lacking professional skill. That is your tasty bit of information (TBOI) of the day.

Back in December I was on a trip with my daughter-in-law and my oldest granddaughter. (That I have not one, but two, g-i-r-l-s astonishes me. They arrived after three sons and six grandsons.) We were stuck in traffic, inching forward at a tedious pace. We watched a driver make an illegal incomplete U-turn at the end of an off ramp. Jessie, driving, watched this odd maneuver and declared, “YOU are an ID-iot!”

From the car seat in the back a little voice piped up, oblivious to its meaning, “I’M an idiot!”  You have to hear the inflection. In musical terms, her “I’M” was on G for a dotted half note, “an” down a fourth for a quarter note and triple eighth notes on C “idiot.” In layman’s terms, it was darn cute! We laughed and assured her she was not.

A new entry in our marital lexicon has been made. When we blunder, we own it by mimicking Aria’s voice: I’Mmmmm anidiot! And the sting of the truth is neutralized by laughter.