My mom would turn 90 years old today, “if she had lived her whole life.” She coined that infamous phrase when talking about another relative who died young, and it continues to outlive us all.
I am remembering Mom today and all the funny moments we shared. The day she said, “Auntie Alma would still be taking that medication, if she had lived her whole life,” I had to pull the car to the side of the road, since I couldn’t see with my eyes squinted shut and tears of laughter running down my face. It wasn’t the first time, nor the last, we laughed together like that.
One of the things I am remembering is that she so easily laughed at herself. It took me quite a while to learn that valuable skill. But I’m right there with her now—mostly because I share her physical struggles, hearing loss, and questionable memory. She always said to me, “Wait until you’re my age.” Well, I’m there, and she was right. I’m in trouble.
I am remembering the times we giggled ourselves silly because she repeated what she thought I said, which wasn’t even close. Her good-natured yelling for help because she couldn’t open a jar with her atrophied hands. There were times she would start to ask me something and couldn’t get it out before collapsing in laughter. I’d squeak out, “Come on, Mom, stop it,” while grabbing my laugh-strained obliques. Most of the time, she had just forgotten what she was going to ask me, which tickled her. She did wonders for my core muscles. I’m going to try to remember her laughing as my own disabilities grow.
I want her joy, the kind of joy that laughs at the future (as in Proverbs 31:25 NASB). So, I have been praying for more joy. We pray for the all the other fruits of the Spirit: love, peace, patience, kindness, self-control, and so on. But I think sometimes we feel guilty asking for increased joy. Why? Joy is one of the evidences and outcomes of the Christian life. I think it should be one of the most-used words when describing a Christian.
And I’m not talking about peace or contentment, although they have their part in joy. Biblical joy, the way it is used most-often in the Bible, includes loud instruments, shouting, dancing, singing, and praising. There is almost always some sort of loud noise associated with joy. Nehemiah 12:43 says, “…for God made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.” 1 Kings tells us that their joy shook the earth. Do you picture the faces of people experiencing that kind of joy with dower countenances, stoically declaring their joy? No, there had to be smiles, laughing, and dare I say it, happy faces. That’s the kind of joy I want—not dependent on my circumstances but on how great a God I serve.
So, I’m going to let the lesson of my mom’s laughter fill my soul today. I have already been out sledding with my grandchildren today. After all, you never know when you’ve lived your whole life.