Life can get the best of us at times. But somehow, if we can find humor and laugh at ourselves or with others, we can usually make sense of it all.
While playing tennis a couple of weeks ago and as our foursome stopped for a water break, we noticed one member of our group, Karen Murray, had a black eye. Knowing her husband to be a kind and gentle man, I dared ask what happened. She replied, "Playing basketball. Little short me went up for a rebound against a tall girl and her elbow came down and hit my face."
She's nearly 60. Who would have guessed?
While listening to someone else's experience, we often remember a similar one. I related a time I was too lazy to turn on a light because I thought I had my bearings. As I walked forward in the darkness of my bedroom with my hands held out in front, my arms felt air, but my eyebrow and cheekbone smacked into the edge of the narrow end of a half-opened door.
Another tennis friend, Sheri Libutti, added her story, taking the prize for the day. She was having lunch with her mother and sisters. They were having a good time. At one point Sheri was laughing so hard she leaned back holding her stomach, and then she threw herself forward, hitting a tall water glass. She had a shiner for weeks.
After tennis, as I pulled into my garage I heard a noise. I'd put out some plants that needed repotting to take advantage of the lovely rain the day before. I glanced at the plants but thought my tire would miss them. It didn't. What a mess to clean up!
All those stories of misjudgment or bad luck are small problems we can laugh at later. Nothing really happened other than we made trouble for ourselves. When we make mistakes that damage others, those are harder to forgive.
My husband, Grit, drove his red Corvette to the gym and parked it next to a Jeep Wrangler. Grit noticed the Jeep rode high and thought, "I really should park away from these cars," but he didn't. As we walked out of the gym, we heard the Jeep crunch the Corvette fender.
Repairing the car cost over $3,000. As upsetting as it was to all of us, especially the people who had to pay all that money, as Grit and I have always said to each other, "It isn't a problem if it can honestly be fixed with money."
Then there are the really hard problems in life that aren't laughable and can't be fixed.
Grit's youngest sister, Mary, married a most adventurous man. Carl Morrison was a lawyer, retired Marine Corps officer, environmental consultant for the Sonoma County Water Agency, vice commander of the Pacific Region's Civil Air Patrol, an experienced private pilot who often flew his 1990 Mooney M20J propeller-driven for meetings around the country and an involved dad with a large family. In other words, he was a valuable person whose life shouldn't have ended at age 75.
On April 6, shortly after takeoff, his plane crashed near Petaluma County airport. He did not survive. Since he was a safe pilot who never took risks, it was a shock to all who knew him.
These experiences are part of life. Black eyes heal, plants can be replanted or replaced, cars are usually repairable, but the death of a loved one can't be fixed. We can only remember them with love and go forward trying to be better because we knew them.
Perhaps we can remember them with a laugh, as well.
Carl was the king of selfies and was always taking pictures with people. He didn't know a stranger. Just before speaking at his funeral, his son Jim, who is not generally a rule-breaker and knows taking pictures is taboo in a chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, "Please forgive me, but Dad, this one's for you." Then he took a selfie for his dad.
Amusement filled the room. You can see from the picture that even Carl's wife, family and the whole audience began to smile again, and life continued on.