I have always been the kind of guy that loves a good laugh, even if the laugh is on me. Let’s face it; laughter truly is the best medicine. I would like to present to you a few instances where we laughed until we cried and then laughed some more.
My sixtieth birthday started out like any other day. I went to work knowing that wifey had planned a weekend in Jerome, Arizona and we would stay at the Ghost City Inn Bed and Breakfast. She also planned a birthday dinner at the Asylum Restaurant which is located in the Jerome Grand Hotel.
After work we packed a few things and headed from Lake Montezuma to Cottonwood and up Mingus Mountain to Jerome. After checking in the B&B, we freshened up a bit and headed for dinner. It’s a steep curving road to the hotel, but once there, the views of the Sedona Red Rocks and the Verde Valley are spectacular. We walked into the restaurant and after my eyes adjusted to the low light I saw a large table in the distance with Happy Birthday balloons looking down on some people sitting at the table. “Look, darling, someone else is celebrating a birthday tonight,” I said as we neared the table. “What is your mother doing here?” I asked in earnest. “Look, Jay, Shannon, Chris and Nissa are here too,” I exclaimed. Then it dawned on me – I am so freaking lame! It was a surprise birthday party for me. The laughter started and lasted the whole evening.
My daughter Nissa come home from the service after 12 years and a tour in Iraq, tired, shell shocked and a little bewildered. She wanted to finish her college studies and get a degree. We found her a place and job and she settled in to a life she was not used to and the adjustment was difficult. Her birthday was coming up and I thought it would be great if her step-mother and I could arrange a visit from her mother who lives in Michigan. The idea was to do it secretly and surprise her. Well, the plan was simple. While I was at work, Nissa and my current wife Sandy would drive down to Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix and pick up Sandy’s cousin who also was flying in from Michigan and give her a ride to her home in Wickenburg on the way back to the Verde Valley. No way did I want Sandy making that drive alone.
As the two of them were sitting in the terminal waiting for the passengers to finish their walk up the tunnel, Sandy described her cousin to Nissa so she could keep an eye out for her. Meanwhile Nissa’s mother, Lori, positioned herself behind a rather large man and headed for the terminal. When Nissa’s mother came into view, Nissa blurted out, “That looks like my mother! What is she doing here?” Like a bolt of lightning, she realized she was just as lame as her father. The laughter started and lasted the whole trip back to the Verde Valley.
For Mother’s Day, my stepson Chris and I planned a little surprise for his mother. Chris lives in Michigan and wanted to fly in and surprise his mother. We devised this plan. I told Sandy that Nissa’s mother wanted to fly in again to visit her daughter. I agreed to go with her to the airport so we could pick up Lori. Nissa was in on this hoax but had to work that day and was not there for the surprise. As we sat in the lobby waiting, Sandy started to text Chris who she thought was at work in Michigan. As she texted away, Chris was walking up the tunnel texting back to her. Sandy was looking down at her text message only to look up at her son looking down at her. I said, “Got ya!” We all started laughing so loud people started looking at us with great curiosity. We laughed all the way back home.
Last Saturday, while I rode Harleys with some friends, Sandy went to our favorite tattoo artist Adrian at Physical Graffiti. She wanted to get 9-11 tattooed next to some red, white and blue roses she had done after that horrible day at the Twin Towers. While she was there, she asked Adrian to tattoo "Mitt" across her ankle. I thought that was a real gesture of love and I started planning another hoax. Last Wednesday, on the way home from work I stopped at Physical Graffiti and had Adrian tattoo "Sandy" across my ankle. On the way home I called Sandy and told her that I had cut myself at work on a stack of ceramic tiles and that I would need help re-bandaging the wound when I got home. The tat was on the opposite leg right above my work boot line. I acted casual and took my time bringing in my lunch pail and paperwork. I finally made my way to the bathroom after taking my boots off and asked my wife if she could get the bandage off for me. She took scissors and carefully cut off the tape, unwrapped the gauze slowly only to discover a new tattoo with her name in bold, black color. “Got ya, wifey!” I laughed – she cried and we both hugged each other tightly.
This is the kind of stuff that makes life so worth living, even when the world around us seems lost in insanity. When I leave the planet, I know it will be sad because it has been such a wild, wonderful ride, but you can bet I will find a way to make even that day funny!