I’ve been writing posts about events that make me laugh, although this post will fall more into the ironic category than the humor one. But the irony is what makes it funny.
Al and I were married on September 12,1971 in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The person that conducted the ceremony was Reverend Delbert Gault. He was the youth minister at my mother’s church in West Palm Beach, Florida. I had attended that church during my last two years of high school.
We went to one of the services at GLIDE Memorial Methodist Church before our ceremony. Glide is a special type of church, in no way a “normal” one. It came to be known for bringing together LGBTQ+ (this was the early 70s so that was not the name of the group then), hippies, the homeless and other counter-culture communities.
Glide was in the hotel district which was in the Tenderloin, a poor part of San Francisco. I used to enjoy watching the bewildered looks on the faces of people from the hotels when they realised this was not going to be a normal Methodist service. It was a celebration of life that included singing and dancing.
The lines to get into the church regularly went around several city blocks. Every spare space in the church was filled. People even sat in the windowsills. What I remember about the service that we attended on the day we were married is that Roberta Flack sang, and Quincy Jones played the piano for her.
Although it was historically a United Methodist Church, at some point they must have disassociated because Methodist was removed from the name of the church.
After our wedding ceremony in the park, we had a potluck dinner. At that time, Jane Fonda, who happened to be in the park, holding a child on her shoulders, came up to us and wished us well. It had been a magical and exciting day.
We moved to Seattle after the wedding (I had been living in Oakland since I graduated from college… but that is a story for another day). We were together for 7 years and during that time we had 2 beautiful children that as adults became known as Satvamrita (the name he was given when he was initiated as a brahmachari-monk) and Chaitanya (the name she was given when she asked Amma to name her)
Three years after our separation, I attended a workshop. As I listened to the guest speaker, I realized I had been passive about getting a divorce. So, I prepared and turned in my divorce papers soon after I returned from the workshop.
By then we had been married for 10 years. I discovered that because we’d been married that long, I would be eligible to receive the difference between his amount of social security benefits and mine after he died. His administrative job with the City of Seattle certainly paid more than what I made as a nurse psychotherapist.
For years, I had expected that I would get the difference between our amounts of Social Security added to mine. He worked with the Social Security office so that everything would be done ahead of time. That way, all I would have to do is call the Social Security Administration office and I would start receiving the new monthly allotment. Regardless of his preparatory work, I discovered after he passed in January 2022, that I would have to apply for the extra income. I wondered what additional “red tape” I would have to do.
My daughter, Chaitanya volunteered to look for the original copies of the marriage and divorce certificates and found the marriage certificate eventually in the Alameda County records. But much to her and my surprise, we found that King County Superior Court had no records to support that our divorce had ever occurred. I realized that I must have turned in the papers, but I didn’t know I was supposed to follow through with anything further. Chaitanya eventually said to me, “Are you sure you two were ever divorced?”
So, I had been married for 50 years instead of 10, and now I was a widow instead of a divorcee. My adult kids and I thought it was funny and Al would have too. Luckily the Social Security staff also laughed or else they might have put up some roadblocks to increasing my monthly check.
Before he died, Al and I would spend time together. I would go over his place to watch Seattle Seahawk games. By the time he passed, we were talking to each other every day. I know that he was sad that he was in no shape to help me. He had had multiple sclerosis for almost 40 years by then and heart problems for 20 years. He had no idea how much his daily calls helped me. Even I didn’t know until they were no more. At some point during that time, I had a dream that we had remarried but I told only a few people about that. I was glad that I was no longer angry, but I was not willing to go that far in reconnecting! In the end, we all got a good laugh at the circumstances.
The monkey seems to be pretending like he can’t see Satvamrita. He’s waiting for him to go away so that he can get into all kinds of mischief. This seems to be their daily routine.
I’ve been thinking about writing this for some time. It will be about things that make me laugh. But it will be different than the past Laughing is Good for Me posts because some people will think I’m giving too much information. So this is your official warning that some might think what I’m saying is gross, like a fifth grade boy with potty humor.
I have a friend with a serious illness that started a blog when he lost the use of his legs for a while. One of my favorite posts of his was titled “I pooped!” I certainly related to that post because I take so much medicine that It seems like I’m constipated all the time.
I liked how he could take a serious topic and make it funny. He inspired me to write again on my own blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed doing that since I started writing again. So feel free to stop reading something if it’s too gross for you. Or you can skip to Section 2 which is my normal style.
I wrote in the past that I related to one of the monkey videos, I had posted earlier this year. In case you don’t remember the video or haven’t watched it before, you can find it here. it’s the third video in the post. I recommend you watch it either for the first or second time before you go on with the reading.
One reason I relate to it, is that I seriously doubt I would be able to pass urine or have a BM if I was being watched. Since I am considered to be a high fall risk I am now staying in an adult family home. One of the things that is asked of me is that I not walk alone anywhere, anytime, so that includes the restroom where I use the toilet. Luckily the staff don’t sit and watch or stand and watch. Most times they leave my room and I ring them with my call bell when I am ready to get up from the toilet.
At the time I watched the video that led to the story, I was very constipated. A few times when I was successful in getting something out, it seemed like I was having really old BMs. They reminded me of the pictures of the stalactites which were in the Texas Natural Bridge Caverns on Vedavati’s trip. (Texas Beauty)The BMs were so hard and seemed stuck, so I broke them off, like the monkey did in the video. I did not throw them on the ground, however, I dropped them in the toilet. I laughed when I saw the monkey do something so similar.
For a while I had an agreement with a staff member that we would make each other laugh at least once a day. I have a tendency now-a-days to leak urine when I laugh. I often wear a pad in my underwear because of that tendency.
One day I could tell she was trying to make me laugh when I was still in my room, and away from the toilet. I said you don’t want to do that or I will make a mess. We started walking towards the bathroom she said something I thought was funny and I not only leaked, I emptied my whole bladder.
One night a staff member was taking me to the toilet in the middle of the night. I have had a real problem with expelling gas (AKA farting) and I find it humiliating. This night as I reached the toilet, I let loose more gas than I ever had before. I don’t know why, but this time I found it hilarious, especially because it was in front of the staff member. I laughed for at least 15 minutes, and I giggled or laughed whenever I thought about it for days.
My daughter, Chaitanya, wanted me to wear Depends (an adult Incontinence product) at night, not because I was incontinent, but rather because she knew I had more difficulty walking at night. She thought it would make it easier for me if I didn’t have to go to the bathroom at night. I was not interested. I also didn’t trust that they would actually work.
So, she decided to prove to me that it was safe for me to use them. She did that by putting on a pair of Depends and then released a full bladder of her urine into them to prove that they were well able to hold everything. I laughed when I realized what she was doing. I think that was well beyond what is expected of a caring daughter. (Chaitanya gave me permission to share this story.)
The family that runs the adult family home that I am living in presently consists of a husband and wife, two small children, three and five years of age, and the wife’s mother. The three year old turned three since I’ve been here, so she was only two when I moved in.
I think the kids are not supposed to be in the residents rooms without one of their parents present but I’m not sure. One day, the two year old came into my room and sat in my chair silently while I was in the bathroom. When I returned to the main room, my back was to her. I began to realize there was somebody else in the room besides the grandmother who helped me in the bathroom. I turned around and I saw the two year-old sitting motionless and quiet. Apparently she had put her finger to her mouth in the shhhh position to indicate to her grandmother that she should not give her away. I didn’t know a two-year-old could be that quiet. Once I realized what was going on, I thought it was pretty funny.
The Swami in charge of Amma’s North American programs and Centers visited me after I moved to the adult family home. I told him that I felt rebellious, that I didn’t want to take anybody with me when I walked with my walker even though I realized that was for my own good since I am a high fall risk. But I didn’t want to do it. He said to me that I needed to work on surrender. And he added that I was not to walk without someone with me.
I laughed when I heard that and when I have thought of it since then. The swami is very wise. In the past I have thought about it as letting go, but I have never thought about it as surrender.
The type of group psychotherapy I did for 30 years included self care contracts and group contracts that were developed by generations of therapists. One of the group therapy contracts was “I will not regress without a contract.” That one went on to say “I will not get into a child space without arranging for protection first.” That means that I won’t act like a child without having a parent there to take care of me or somebody acting in that capacity.
The self-care contracts are meant to be lifelong contracts, as well as some of the group contracts. (I have for a long time felt contemptuous towards therapists who talk about their three-year-old as if it was a real child-rather than metaphor used for healing purposes.)
Much to my dismay, I found myself breaking the regression contract a lot during my first months here. Most therapists add that it’s different when you are sick; that it is natural to “get little” in that situation. But I did not give myself that break. And I still break that contract today, more than I would like.
My tears are constantly close and it doesn’t take much to trigger them, much like a two year old. And I don’t deal with frustration well. I’m frequently like a kid when I’m frustrated.This is not a laughing matter but I think it’s ironic that I would be breaking that particular contract so frequently. All this goes to show that you can find humor in the strangest places. And laughing is good for me.
I want to mention one other thing in this post. Several people have said I need to focus on accepting the situation I am in. I think I have accepted the fact that I have MSA, multiple systems atrophy, which is a disease that has no cure and that they won’t know if I really have it until they do an autopsy when I pass. I think people say that to me because I cry frequently, spontaneously. The reality is sometimes I feel like I’m in hell and would be relieved if I pass, and then a day later I don’t know why I thought that way, thinking then that it is not so bad.
I am aware that when I first met Amma, it seemed like I cried all the time. Sometimes I felt crazy because I didn’t always feel sad when I cried. During that earlier period of crying, a devotee friend once said to me, “It seems like all you do is cry.” That was much like when I was a kid, when my father said, “If you’re going to cry, I’ll give you something to cry about.” I learned to be stoic. This time the tears stopped and I went back to being my normal stoic self. No more did the tears flow freely.
I think that the past tears were healing. I think the same about these current tears. If I need to accept anything, I need to accept that there is purpose behind the tears. Like laughter is good for me…. the tears are also good for me. I can believe that without knowing why they are good for me.
Before I left the senior living facility I had developed the habit of saying yeah to everything. Every sentence ended with “Yeah”. The word “No” often followed it. My daughter began to tell everybody that my “YESes” don’t mean anything nor do my “NOs”; that they had to wait to find out what my answer really was.
One day, a friend and I were laughing during dinner about the fact that I couldn’t stop saying “yeah” at the end of every sentence.
She said something about it when I was drinking prune juice. I thought what she said was funny and I ended up spraying her and everything else on the table with prune juice. What happened next was not funny but it was a good lesson.
I started choking on the prune juice. Choking and choking. Before long I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I started wheezing and I was afraid .
My friend hit my back until a big glob of mucus came up and the problem was over. We had learned that when we are eating, we should pay attention to what we’re doing.
Soon after I moved into the adult family center I began to chant to myself. Shortly thereafter, I started chanting out loud. I heard the chants constantly, night and day, wherever I was. I couldn’t tell if the chants were nonsense syllables or something like Native American chanting, but I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t stop hearing it or chanting it. This was bizarre to me, as people don’t go around chanting what sounds like nonsense syllables. I thought that people must be wondering what was wrong with me. In fact, I was wondering what was wrong with me.
I moved into the adult family home about June 10. There was a TV playing Hallmark movies in the dining room. After July 4 they started playing Christmas movies. l thought that must be the new tradition. Christmas programming used to start after Thanksgiving.
I started to suspect that my chants were getting at least some of their tunes from the TV programs. That scenario became even more likely the night that a staff member asked me if I knew I was humming jingle bells. She was shocked but I was only surprised. I laughed but she was right. I had unconsciously added jingle bells to my chanting routine. For awhile I even added the actual words but now Jingle Bells has left my rotation.
A lot of these stories might seem serious, but in the end we can remember that there is great healing in learning to laugh at ourselves.
I haven’t. Look carefully and you will see a rainbow on the border.
And were met by greeters
And they choose not to come to our balcony.
This is a little jetty of fresh water, or mostly fresh water
Grandpa’ Elk watched over ‘his’ herd with relaxed attention
A casual conversation
These sunsets were taken two days apart.