Saturday Special – The Greatest Gift

Hello everyone. I wrote this last Friday to be posted on the 15th so with everything you read, keep that in mind. Timing of it was important to me but I guess other events took precedence. I hope you’ll enjoy it and get something out of it anyway.

As many of you know, both of my parents are now gone. Passed away. Both of my mom’s parents passed in 1992 and 1993. My dad’s father passed in 1991. This past Sunday, Dec 9, I got the call that my dad’s mother had passed away. She out lived him by nearly 13 years. In fact, 6 days shy of that. For all of you doing the math, Dad died 13 years ago today. When he died, grandma was out west visiting his younger brother. Neither of them came to the funeral. I could understand why she didn’t but for him, not. For that and events before and after that time, I’ve not cared to see him or hear from him ever again.

I hadn’t seen my grandmother in about 9 years. She was living in a retirement home here. Not a nursing home, this is one of those places where people live when they can still take care of themselves but need to be looked after in some way. She had a house but sold it to move out to live with or near my dad’s brother after dad died. Through some of those unspeakable circumstances, she wound up back here in this retirement home. About a year after she moved in to it, she began to develop Dementia and it finally turned into Alzheimer’s. She was taken back out west so her son could take care of her and about 7 years ago, she was put into a nursing home. By then, she didn’t recognize or remember anyone around her or from her past. The little bit of exposure I have with this disease, it isn’t a pretty sight. It isn’t a nice way to go out. It’s confusing for its’ victims and it’s taxing for those around them trying to help and take care of them. Before she was admitted to the nursing home, funeral arrangements had to be made. I didn’t know that is how it works. She and my grandfather bought cemetery plots a few years before he died. So she has been sent back here for her burial, today. In fact, by the time any of you are reading this, that is where I’ll be (if you’re reading in the morning). Don’t cry for me, or her.. If she was suffering as much as I think she was, I’m glad she’s gone.

Now that I have that out of the way, here’s the reason for this post. The above is what brought all of this to mind for me and it is something I’ve been thinking about it all week. That something is this. What do I remember most about the people in my life, alive or not? Is it some perceived or actual wrong done to me or someone I love? Well, yes, I’m very likely to remember those things for a long time to come and some of them, I may eventually forgive. Is it mom’s cooking? Well, I remember the cooking but I can’t say I remember the taste of any of it unless she was experimenting with a ‘new’ recipe and it made me gag (It was known to happen once in awhile). Is it even their faces? Not really. The longer they are ‘gone’ the more faded those images become. I don’t know why that happens, it may be some sort of coping mechanism that we’re all born with. If I didn’t have pictures of any of them, I eventually wouldn’t remember what they looked like at all.

For me, it is the audio that I remember the most. I can still see and more importantly hear, the image and sound of my father playing his accordion even though when he passed, he hadn’t played it in about 8 years. I can hear him from when I was a kid, hollering, JEFF!! as he wanted to give me some task to do because he thought I was relaxing a little too much. In fact, to this very day, I can still hear that. I can hear my mother talking on the phone with one of her customers of her business or one of her subcontractors as she called them on their attempted BS. I can hear my grandfather telling us a joke, as kids, about a farmer talking to his horse and the horse responding. I can hear my grandmother in the same way (mom’s parents). I can easily remember my other grandmother droning on about people we didn’t know and couldn’t care less about. That’s just who she was. You get the idea.

What I remember most about all of the departed and even the people still in my life, is their laugh. It is like I can pull up an MP3 in my brain and play it, over and over. With each and every one of them. Sometimes I can remember the event or statement that brought on that laugh, most of the time I cannot. It isn’t important enough to me. Each laugh is different too. Some were just a chuckle or a giggle while others were gut busting pee your pants power laughs.

I don’t think there is any denying that laughter is contagious. I’ll bet money that there isn’t a single person here who has ever heard someone laughing and you didn’t at least giggle because of it, even if you don’t know what it is they are laughing about. Honestly I think those who can’t have a contagious laugh are either wound too tight or deeply troubled. I guess in part, where I’m going with this, is when those around me are no longer there, I hang on to them through the memory of their laugh. Even playing them back in my mind, as I write this, I’m having a good one.

As they lower my grandmother into her final resting place next to my grandfather this morning, I won’t be mourning her. I will be remembering her laugh and pardon the perceived disrespect if I have a huge grin on my face. The greatest gift I’ve ever been given by the collective group of people in my life, is the sound of their laughter. Their ability, even if unintended, through the contagious nature of it, to make me laugh. For that, regardless of anything else, I thank, each and every one of them.

It is my hope that all of you have received the same gift from those around you. Above, or now below, ground level. Treasure it because, I’m telling you, it will sneak up on you when you least expect it and will be triggered by the strangest of circumstances. I hope you are able to give that gift as well.

Good day.


PS.. For some entertainment, I hope you’ll allow me some self promotion that has absolutely nothing to do with this post.

About MelTheHound

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28 Responses to Saturday Special – The Greatest Gift

  1. LaineyLainey says:

    Bee-yoo-tee-ful, MTH – – – I have been struggling with the loss of my father-in-law; trying to find something to replace the feelings of sadness and regret; The image of his little body right after they’d performed 40 minutes of cpr on him… the image and audio you suggested is much better than the image and audio of the day when we rushed to the hospital only to find it was too late. I just have to will myself to go THERE (the laughter) instead of the other place…I will make myself hear his laughter.

  2. Boobah says:

    Beautiful post MelTH. Thank you for writing this. Two people in my family died this month. It never occurred to me to focus on their laughter, and not just their laughter but the laughter of all the people I love. This was really great advice.
    And I am sorry for your loss.

    • melthehound says:

      Hi Boobah.. December kind of sucks, doesn’t it? I’m glad you enjoyed the post and got something from it.

      • Boobah says:

        Yeah, it can be tough for sure. I actually love Christmas but I find it hard to avoid the nonsense – you know, the expectations, running around, etc. Your post hit home because it reminded me that this time of year should be about appreciating the people in our lives. I mean, that’s at least one part of it.

        BTW – was that you singing in the video?? I know that was you playing guitar – always a joy to listen to. You are very good!

        • melthehound says:

          Boobah, as of last December, everything you hear in my videos is me. Thank you very much.

          • Boobah says:

            Wow! I figured it was you but I didn’t want to get swoony and then have you tell it was a cousin or something! Lordy that is a handsome voice! (I want to say sexy, but then people will talk, lol)

            Happy Holidays!

  3. mth, I can’t think of a better way to honor those we love than to remember their laughter. It’s something that happens over time, but eventually you turn a corner and the grief is softened by the wonderful memories of the people we loved.
    And yes, December can be a tough month.

  4. Kaereste says:

    That was a really nice tribute to your loved ones. I remember our car trip vacations. The excitment, the boredom, the car-sickness, the fighting with my brother and most of all the cool things we all saw and did. Thanks Mom & Dad (and Brother).

    • melthehound says:

      I remember those too. I also remember stabbing my sister in the leg with a pencil and what happened next. To put up with some of my shenanigans, My parents had to be near saintly. My sister, btw, has never let me forget that incident.

  5. not THAT Jill says:

    Jeff-coming from a family of 7 kids our house was full of laughter(among lots of other noises) and it is what I miss about my Mom the most. My younger brother could make my Mother laugh in any situation and saved all of us at different times. When we all get together and tell our “war stories” about growing up we all end up laughing hysterically. My brother always smiles when we remind him how much he made our Mom laugh-it is a sound I will never forget.
    I absolutely loved the video-thank you!!!

  6. princesspindy says:

    I really need to pay attention because I got to the part where your Dad was yelling “Jeff” and I was wondering why Empress’ dad was calling her Jeff….. I started over in your voice, lol. I enjoyed your article, I am now going to go and try and remember my Dad’s laugh. Thanks!

  7. Lisa Renee says:

    Dear Jeff, once again your words & timing hit so close to home. I have read this post several times. It has taken me days to reply. My motivation is to tell you that your message has helped me tremendously. With all we have going on, my mom’s passing is still as fresh as the day that happened. Her laughter, how I can still hear it, helps me get myself & my family through. We try so hard to talk about all the laughs we shared. We may start the convo with tears from missing her but always end up laughing about how funny she was & how no one made her laugh harder than me. Thank you for sharing, it really helped alot. My best to you & Mel for a happy & healthy new year. Lisa

    • melthehound says:

      I’ll admit I had some pretty selfish reasons for writing this post but I’m happy that you all were able to take something from it. That means a lot to me. 😀

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