Thursday, February 19, 2009

Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.

This week’s Spin is all about laughing – something I do all the time. If I didn't, I be in a corner, drooling into my Ensure.

We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh.
~Agnes Repplier

Like everything else in my classroom, even the way we do Shakespeare is nontraditional. Each period breaks into five groups, and each group takes an act of Romeo and Juliet, creating a way to teach their section to the rest of the class. They can read their act any way they wish – take parts, popcorn, or silently read. Most groups take parts, since they are required to re-enact at least one scene in their presentation (ohhhh how I wish I could show you these – talk about hilarious!). The group nearest my desk was acting out the parts when one girl started singing. My head popped up, all quizzical. I asked her why she was singing. She replied, with all the snip and snide only a freshman girl can manage, “Uuuuuuhhhhmmm, my part?!?” “There’s no singing in Romeo and Juliet!” I blurted. Again she drew from the well of incredulousness, “Uuuuuuuuhhhhhmmmm, it totally says ‘Chorus.’”

You can't deny laughter; when it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair and stays as long as it wants. ~Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis

When my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, my dad had the bright idea to take her on a trip to Texas. He ended up in the hospital. Since he couldn’t exactly watch Mom while he was in the hospital (the IV drip REALLY got in the way), she came home and Dad asked me to come home, stay with Mom, and help my sister and brother to find an assisted care living facility. The only catch was I had to find this place completely on the sly – Mom was to have NO IDEA she was about to be institutionalized. Right. No stress here.

But, I did my best, lying through my teeth about where I was going every day. I thought Mom might suspect something because she remarked that she certainly didn’t know that I had SO many friends, but she never seemed upset and she never cornered me, firing accusations and questions that I was NOT about to answer. Oh, wait, that was 11th grade. Apparently, Mom was calling Dad (who she thought was still in the hospital), and giving him a very hard time. This prompted a secret 4-way phone call between my dad, one of my brothers, my sister, and myself. I’m pretty sure the Treaty of Versailles took less finagling to work out than getting us all on the phone without Mom knowing. Dad began by telling us all about Mom’s rough phone calls, and came out and asked us if any of had said anything, since she was specifically accusing him of having a secret plan to put her in an assisted living facility. I know, creepy, since it was true. But I must say the stress, the exhaustion of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s caught up with me and I blurted out, “No Dad, anytime I talk to Mom about it, I always say ‘nuthouse’ or loony bin.’”

There was a pregnant pause. Like a Jon & Kate plus 8 pause.

Then they all started laughing at the same time and my heart started beating again and everything was a little bit okay.

This story sounds awful and funny at the same time. Kinda like it really was.

But now, it isn't, and here's a little proof.

Thanks Katie!


KNab said...

I love you and I love your blogs. You remind me of my senior year high school English teacher, Mrs. Knauss. We learned about King Arthur by watching "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Mrs. Knauss rewound and replayed the part of the bring out your dead scene where the old lady is smacking the cat against the wall... just in case anyone missed it. For our section on Mythology we broke into groups and did a home movie. Ours was completed with Play Dough, action figures and Hamilton (with the help of peanut butter) narrating while the Senior Class President did the voice over. We of course received an 'A'. You are clearly that kind of teacher.

Sprite's Keeper said...

As a lover of Shakespeare, I would have lost it on her punchline! Heaven forbid you have to sit through a death scene with a straight face! You're linked! (And the pictures are beautiful!!)

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Did I mention that I taught 9th grade for four years? Oh, that story, that girl, I could so picture it. Fun stuff there. I miss Romeo and Juliet. I have American Lit in 10th grade, next quarter we are studying The Crucible.

Casey said...

I completely get the need to find humor in a tense situation. When my grandmother was in the hospital and then later a nursing home, we were all so tense all of the time. One day something cracked us all up and it just felt good to laugh.

I love the story about your musical student. Ha! I once made an arse of myself in 9th grade English when I said "Yose - Might" instead of Yosemite. I wasn't paying attention when the teacher had me read aloud and misread the sentence. Oops. It's funny which stories stick with you.

I am Harriet said...

Great post!
Stopping by from SITS!

Twenty Four At Heart said...

Thanks for the smile - great story!

Katie said...

Yeah, I would imagine that would be just a wee bit stressful. I'm so glad you guys were able to laugh.
Chorus...hee hee!