Laughter is Good Medicine

My grandfather's name was Pa. Now, I don’t believe that was his real name but that’s what we called him.

Such a cheerful soul. He was forever saying something funny, singing a song and getting the words wrong…on purpose. And he was always whistling and quoting silly poems. “He’s a poet and he don’t know it but his feet show it, they’re long fellers.” When Pa walked in the room, sunshine was sure to follow.

My grandmother, Mockie, on the other hand, was quite the opposite. A clean freak and workaholic, she was never content and she made sure everyone knew it.  Her real name was Theanie, pronounced “Teeny” which was an odd name for a woman of her size. To be delicate, she was robust. Or to be frank she was big and round. Pa, on the other hand, was very thin. When they stood side by side, they looked like the number 10.

Mom’s face lit up every time she told stories about my grandfather. The same stories over and over, she laughed just the same. In their house it was a misdemeanor for Pa to sit and rest for even a second. Mockie called out for him constantly. To make matters worse, she called him by his last name like a football coach. The name was Congleton but over the years it became, “Cawnton.” “Cawnton,” she bellowed, “If you don’t get out here and fix this porch, I am gradually going through!” Pa’s reply was always a gem; “Well as long as you go through gradually it won’t hurt you.”  Somehow he was impervious to the pressure as if he had found another dimension, a secret that only he knew. And in that place, he whistled.

The fact that he loved Mockie more than the world itself is the only reason I can imagine that he got away with teasing her about her size. But that he did. “Cawnton, I am ABOUT to fall down!”  His comforting reply would melt the heart of any woman, “Well, I can’t pick you up but I’ll lie down right beside you.” Such a smooth talker.  And so the stories abound.

What a difference a cheerful disposition makes on an atmosphere. Pa was a living breathing personification of Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”  Could God have known what He was talking about all along? Studies have shown that laughter generates those “feel good” endorphins, the same as a physical work out. It also produces antibodies that fight infection, boosts the immune system and reduces pain.

For my Mom and all her siblings, that humor and cheerful disposition created memories that have blessed the third generation. One of our relatives said, “When I get to heaven I’m gonna rest for a thousand years.” Pa’s reply…  “Me too, if Teeny don’t get there first.”  I smile every time I think of that.

Reflection: Who in your life is that cheerful soul? How have they blessed your life?