Plant Humor Seeds — Enjoy Growing Older

Is a good sense of humor genetic?  I don’t know the answer to that.  But I suspect that it is. What I do know is that both my parents have a great sense of humor.  Also, neither of them had a reputation for being big joke tellers as I was growing up.  I like to say they are “carriers” of humor.  They laugh at funny things and spread good cheer to people around them.  But they are not the life-of-the-party person wearing a lamp shade on their head!  Like me, they tend to be introverts.

About ten years ago, we had a family reunion in Florida.  My mother
was living in Orlando and her sons and grandkids flew in to enjoy
spending time together.  At the end of our vacation she played taxi
driver taking everyone to catch their flights home.  At the
airport, Michael and I loaded our bags onto a small dolly and the
two of us, plus mom, headed to the gate.  I was having a hard time
pulling the dolly because the handle was too low for a person who
was six-foot-three.  Michael is even taller than I am.  My mom
said, “No problem, I’ll pull the luggage.”  She’s a healthy, active
woman, so we didn’t think anything of it.  Halfway to the gate it
hit me.  I shared my thoughts: “I wonder what this looks like to
other people?  Two tall, strong, young men letting their mother in
her 70s pull all the luggage.”  We stood there in the terminal
laughing like we had lost control.  I love being in a family that
laughs. 

My dad died six years ago. He was in good spirits till the end.
One of his outstanding character traits was his ability to
go-with-the-flow.  Happy people are able to enjoy the NOW.  My dad
was good at that.

Although he spent a lot of time in a hospital during the last two
months of his illness, he was able to spend his last week at home.
He kept his sense of humor during uncomfortable times.  When family
members were awkwardly trying to roll him over on the hospital bed
at home the week before he died, he said “Wait, I’ve got an idea.
Why don’t you run down to the library and get a book on Nursing!”

The week before, on his last hospital visit, as he lost his strength, he was unable to hold the phone to his ear and the phone would slide down the side of his head.  People would say, “Howard,
hold the phone to your ear.”  One afternoon, while chatting on the
phone, he said to the person on the other end of the line: “I’m
going in for surgery tomorrow.”   Then he paused, like a professional comic. 

Those of us in the room looked at each other, “Surgery?  What
surgery?”

Then he continued:  “They’re going to move my ear!”

Maybe I get my humor genes from my mom and dad.

One of my favorite “mom” stories comes from fellow humorist Allen
Klein (Mid-Month Mirth Memo, humor@allenklein.com).  His 80 year
old mother, who was unable to find a cab to take her home, walked
into a Pizza Restaurant.  “I’d like to order a pepperoni pizza
delivered…and I’d like to go with it.”

A good sense of humor helps us to have a sense of control.  It
helps us to enjoy the present moment.  It provides pain relief.  It
reminds us that there is always another way of looking at things.
Our sense of humor is critical as we grow older. 

Something I’ve observed recently is that when we become older, we retain our character traits.  In fact they grow more pronounced.  A sweet person becomes sweeter.  A disagreeable person becomes a real crank in their old age.  The attitudes and traits you are planting now
will take root and become rigid habits later in life. 

My uncle Harry is a shining example.  All his life he was one of the most kind, sweet and gentle men you could ever meet.  His character made him a good fit for being the minister of a church.  Today he’s in his mid-80s and living with dementia. He’s unable to communicate clear sentences that make any sense.  And inspite of that challenge, he has the most pleasant, cheerful, smiling disposition.  He can’t express him self with words, but his smile and the twinkle in his eye have never been lost.  The personality traits you have in life today will stay with you as you grow older…and more so.

It’s important to make a commitment to live a daily life of optimism,
hope, generosity, gratitude and fun.  Whatever your lifestyle choices you make today…you can be guaranteed you’ll have more of the same…and I do mean MORE…later in life.

Plant happy seeds and enjoy today.

Copyright 2007 by John Kinde