Laughter – the Best Medicine

By Diane DeVaughn Stokes

I am extremely blessed and I know it. Most people my age are not so lucky to still have their moms. But this has been a very tough year in many ways, and that has made me even more grateful to know I can still hug and squeeze her and tell her I love her. You see, last October my mom wanted to move from her single family house here in Myrtle Beach to Covenant Towers, as she had heard it was a wonderful Senior Living Facility with lots of folks just like her.

Most adult children have to beg their parents to consider this, but my mom wanted to be with more folks her own age and to enjoy prepared meals and activities lined up for her. Mom had Chuck and I around her all the time, but having lost my dad thirteen years ago, and two great boyfriends over the years, she needed friends her own age.

Covenant Towers has been perfect for Mom. She has an adorable condo, lots of nice neighbors and months later met an incredible man who is a Godsend to her and to me. They are having a ball together. But when I needed Mom to return to her former home and help me decide what stuff to toss, what stuff went to my sister and her kids, and what stuff went to storage, she could not do it. Mom has never been selfish, so I knew it wasn’t that, but what I came to realize was that she was unable to get rid of anything! She was the kid of Great Depression parents who saved every single item. Every little thing was precious to her.

I found old notes and poems I wrote her when I was a kid. Colored pictures my sister made for her when she was very young. Photos, and more photos, VHS tapes of cherished family gatherings, even stuff that belonged to Dad. I cried with each and every cabinet and drawer I had to clean out. Items that others would label junk were treasure to Mom. It was tough tossing anything knowing it meant something special to her. Thank goodness I was able to tackle this project while Mom is still on the face of this earth, because if she wasn’t, I would have never been able to get rid of a single item. I would have been snowed under for life! Those of you who have done this for your own parents totally understand.

But it’s my mom’s warm and wacky personality that I want to talk about. Everyone who meets her can attest that she is very unique as she is silly, kooky, loves to make people laugh and can zero in on something even in the most serious moments. For example, Mom fell on July 11, breaking her tailbone and pelvis as she got off the couch to answer the phone – believe it or not, as she was reading Sasee Magazine. No fooling. Then she pushed herself across the hardwood floor to pull the emergency cord in her bedroom, knowing she had broken something, but wasn’t sure what was broken.

Mom likes to say that she wished she had been drinking, as that would have been a good excuse for falling! But when the firemen arrived, because they were the first on the scene, she realized she was surrounded by the most gorgeous men, and she asked them if they ever considered making a calendar! And then when I arrived, having been called by the Towers folks, she said she did not need me as she had never been in the bedroom with so many good looking men at one time in her life! And as the ambulance workers were carrying her out of her apartment, she said she needed her curlers, as she never leaves home without them!

Yep. That’s my mom. And even though the reality and the pain finally set in after we arrived at the hospital, her spirit and personality continued to soar with all the ER staff and all the nurses during her four day stay in the hospital, where she set her hair in curlers every single night. She would say, “If you don’t look good, you won’t feel good.”

Then there was six weeks at Covenant Towers Health Center for rehab, where she again made all the staff laugh with her crazy remarks and somewhat offbeat witticisms. They did not want to see her leave as they all said they had never met anyone like her. Mom has always risen to any occasion, throughout her lifetime, with LAUGHTER as her best medicine.

Sadly however, during this period of rehab, we all realized that mom’s reflexes were not as sharp as they needed to be in order to continue driving, so it was recommended that she turn in her license and call it quits. When I gingerly discussed this with her, she remarked, “Oh well, I knew it would happen sooner or later. I’ll now be like a queen as you haul me around town everywhere I wish to go!” I have known my whole life that I had the world’s greatest and most unusual mom. But watching her continue to laugh along the way at life’s most challenging situations makes me know that I am blessed beyond all measure to call Nancy Schaefer my mom. I hope I can always face the music and dance with the same positive spunk and spirit.

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One Response to “Laughter – the Best Medicine”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    Diane, you are truly blessed with such a fun loving mom. Your story was wonderful.

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