Chapter 24: Celebrate Regularly and Appropriately
Celebrate Regularly and Appropriately
In the previous chapter I wrote about DaddyO and Pops. In this chapter I must mention those men again because they both loved to celebrate.
Pops enjoyed smiling and making silly remarks. I told him that practice was often his method of denial, but I eventually mellowed and let him enjoy his final years. Why try so hard to correct issues he himself did not see as issues? I worked through them. That allowed me to laugh with him better than I ever had in my six decades as his son.
DaddyO’s laugh—in conversations, in stories, at ball games, at meetings, during meals, during holiday gatherings—was well known. It was easy to hear, easy to enjoy, easy to join in. It is well missed by many.
But I must bring their wives here also. I was recently talking to my mother- in-law, Evelyn Oliver—MamaO for me. I heard her laugh. It wasn’t the first time I had heard her laugh, but I vividly recall her laughing in a way that makes me grin as I type.
Our conversation initially reminisced her husband’s death. The last few months, she could tell his health wasn’t great. The last day before his stroke—the day that started well—that night we called 911. The phone calls to family members. Those final five days of conversations in the hospital room when DaddyO could not enter into our dialogue.
MamaO began telling stories about her husband—Stan for her, DaddyO for me. Stories about their years of dating, their years of marriage, the many places they lived, the many places they worked. Her frustration with his frustration, but her love for him. Ball games where he argued with umpires and referees so much that she would not attend those games anymore. Friends they met. Holidays with children and grandchildren. His desire to give, to make people laugh, to sing. She cried as we listened together to the song I mentioned in the previous chapter, “The 441.”
After Taylor’s song ended with DaddyO’s voice singing, her tears turned into smiles. I didn’t expect that. I had already stood up, thinking after the song would be my time to give her a goodbye hug, ask if there was anything else I needed to do, tell MamaO I love her, then leave. But she continued telling stories. Humorous experiences through their decades together. His jokes, his laugh, the way he helped people feel important, the way he answered the phone. I glanced at the pictures on the wall—those we had included in his funeral service—as I listened to her giggle.
That is a good balance, an equilibrium. An awareness of sadness sitting be- side joy in our stories. Laughter belongs right there. Not after all becomes good. Not after all is well. But now. Here. In the middle of uneven, unpleasant, unhappy circumstances of life. A grin about the good amid the mess. A giggle about part of the story among the storms.
- When have you recently smiled?
- When have you recently laughed?
- What is a story from your life when you felt joy was distant?
- What is a story from your life when you found joy amid difficulty?
- How can you live with a true smile—not one of those fake smiles for a picture—shining from your face?
Solomon reminds us: “A word in season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23). Chris Maxwell is a master at delivering “a word in season.” His eye catches things that others miss. He shows us where to plant our feet, where to grasp and hold on. In this book, Chris offers invaluable counsel for all who feel disoriented, for all who need help in keeping their balance on the uneven surfaces of life.