To see my mother laugh is pure joy. The woman laughs with her entire being. These days the laughter comes fairly easily and passes quickly but this was not always the case.
When I was growing up Mom had very little to laugh about. Sometime after my Dad left, my brother, sister and I discovered how much fun it was to get Mom to laugh. Mostly our attempts got just a chuckle but every now and then we'd catch her just right and she'd be off.
Her entire body would shake. She'd literally double over. As she struggled to catch her breath she made a noise that simply will not translate to a keyboard but it resonates in my head as I type. And we'd laugh with her. It became a game to keep her laughing. She'd start to wind down and one of us would prompt her, "But can't you just picture ..." and there'd be a big intake of breath and she was off again until tears came to her eyes. Sometimes all it took to keep her laughing was a silly look or for us to start laughing as she started to wind down. After a bit she'd beg us to stop and leave her be, all the while laughing. At this point she'd give us "the finger."
These days I try to save up all the stories of the funny things my grandkids say and do or my crazy tales from work until my Thursday's with her. I could regale her with these tales on the phone and she'd enjoy them just as much but I would miss out!
When someone in our family gets silly or steps out of line we joke that "Mom's gonna give you the finger!" To properly give "the finger" make a fist, extend your index finger, point at the offender and shake your wrist very hard.
The followng family funnies are probably only going to seem funny to my family.
We went on an annual camping trip. Packing up was always stressful. Dad was in charge and everything had to be just so. You did not make helpful suggestions or ask questions. One year we got well over half way to our destination and he realized that he'd left the maps and envelope of money back home on the front stoop. We got to our destination, he set up camp and turned around and drove several hours home and back. For years after that whenever we'd start on a trip we'd all ask. "Dad, did you bring the money?"
When I was young something I wanted rolled under my dresser and I was quite determined to retrieve it. Somehow my head became stuck and my father had to lift it to free me. For some incomprehensible reason my family finds this story funny.
A certain lad of five was left with his grandparents when his mother went into labor. They asked him what he wanted her to have. He responded that he would like either a little brother or an octopus. In time he came to love his sister.
We used to set off little fireworks in the backyard for the kids on July 4th. One year John and a friend lit a fuse and started running backwards to get clear. They ran right into the kids wading pool.
I once found one of my children at the age of two talking into the telephone. It hadn't rung so I figured they just picked it and and started talking. I laugh now but not back when I got the bill for a call to Alaska!
The same child mentioned above loved to fish (and still does) so one year he got a new snoopy fishing pole. The rest of us were fished out for the day but he'd been doing quite well and begged to stay out on the dock a while longer while we went in to fix dinner. My heart flew to my throat when I heard the splash and we went running outside. There he was in the water. John reached down and hauled him out by the loop on his lifejacket. He'd gotten his line snagged and lost his balance. He was so proud of himself, "I didn't lose my pole Mom!"