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Humor Through Tears

Updated on April 28, 2020

Christmas 1994 was not the best Christmas my family has ever celebrated. Ten days before our Mother had passed away after being in the hospital for two months. It was a very trying time for our family, losing someone that close to us was a new experience. Each of us my two sisters and my brother had our own relationship with our Mom. However one thing she taught us all growing up is never to lose your sense of humor. This is something my sister Valerie takes literally to this day. I tend to be the more serious one in the family, I have never been all that great at pulling pranks or just doing something funny, Valerie and my brother for that matter have a knack for it. As my Mom put it one time looking at a picture of the two of them, my brother Ty sitting on a couch holding Valerie in his lap, “there they are the two comedians.”

I should not have been surprised at what my sister had done the week of our Mother’s passing, but I am grateful for it because when I am really missing her I remember this incident and it always brings a smile to my face, usually through tears but a smile.

Before my Mom had even went into the hospital, her and my Dad wanted to help David my husband and I get a new toilet for our main bathroom. My Dad used to do plumbing so with some help he could put it in. Not that we couldn’t afford to have it done, but this was their way of giving us something we needed for all that we did for them. After Mom went in the hospital and one thing led to another we all forgot about it. Except my Dad, he was determined to do this. He had seen an ad in the paper where a local home improvement store was having a sale on toilets and decided since all the family was around this chore could get done.

My sister Valerie and her husband Patrick had flown in from Texas, for probably the third of fourth time since Mom had been in the hospital. Ty, my brother and David had taken time off work. Phyllis my younger sister and I were both at work. In between working we were all visiting Mom when the hospital would allow. She was in intensive care and on a ventilator.

I think all of us were trying to do what my Dad wanted because we knew this was his way of coping with Mom dying. Somehow he bought this toilet and convinced David, Ty and Patrick that with him giving instructions they could take the old one out and put the new one in. Due to a surgery he had the previous August he could not lift so he needed their help.

While I was at work I would make phone calls when I could and Valerie would give me updates about Mom at the hospital and how replacing the toilet was going. As I stated this was the holiday season and decorations were up in all neighborhoods. Valerie mentioned that in Texas and in the Midwest a lot of people use their old toilets for planters. “Don’t even think about it”. I replied to this information. Besides being the more serious one I tend to be very conservative in my décor. I went back to work.

I didn’t work far from home; therefore my family knew when I would be arriving. I was really happy when I turned the corner on to my cul de sac that besides us none of our neighbors had put up Christmas lights yet and it was dark except for one street light.

What I saw at first brought the reaction “I am going to kill her” then I could very clearly hear my Mom say “Never lose your sense of humor”

There at the end of my entryway on the left side of my garage door, was our old toilet with a poinsettia in it. What could I do but laugh and it was what I needed, what we all needed. I have never been able to look at a poinsettia in the same way since.


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