Laugh till your cheeks hurt..

I call it holy laughter. The kind that creeps up on you, and surprises with a quickness and vigor that is unexpected.

A few words shared together that get all jumbled up, and before you realize it, you are both breaking into giggles.

That was yesterday. It was tense when I had offered Mum her medicine that was mixed with a spoonful of red raspberry jam on the end of a white plastic spoon. It was a “ bitter pill to swallow,” and the raspberry jam was trying to conceal just how bitter it was.

She had trusted me with her Morning cream of wheat, sweetened with brown sugar, and had eaten the bowl up quite willingly.

A wee cup of tea sweetened with milk and sugar, and a few bites of banana had her feeling satiated, and content.

The nurse walked in with a spoon in her hand. She asked if I wanted to give her her medicine.

Apparently in this situation “ a spoonful of sugar..” did not help the medicine go down. I felt a tad deceitful thinking I could sneak it into her trusting lips, then chasing it with some vanilla “ boost.”

Hold up.. put on the brakes.. because the “yucky face” happened instantaneously, and no swallowing was happening.

She looked horrified, squinting her eyes, and looking for a place to spit.

I kept coaxing her, and promising that if she just swallowed, it would be all over, and she could have a drink of something sugary and sweet, and all would be well. She was not having it.. I kept on, thinking I could change her mind.. I lost.. out it came.. then coughing and sputtering.. then she was just mad at me. The term “ madder then a wet hen,” would be something my Mother used to say.

I had tricked her, broken her trust . I could see it in her face, even though she could not focus on me.

She moved her bedcovers about with a confused agitation, and her brow furrowed with frustration. It broke my heart.

She would not take anything from me right then even though I promised it would take the flavor out of her mouth if she just swallowed her medicine.

I hadn’t wanted to deceive her on purpose, in fact, I had said, “ here is your medicine,” but somehow that phrase had not prepared her for the aftertaste of broken trust.

Perhaps she was more offended that it was me in that moment giving it to her, than a nurse or a PSW, I can’t be sure… but I needed to push back my chair from beside her elevated bed to have a breather.

She had a faraway look in her eyes of sorrow, and devastation, it was hard to look at.

I said, “ I’m sorry Mum that this tastes so bad,” but that covered every nuance about all of this that she was presently experiencing. This is not where she wanted to be, and this was not her choice about how her life would be … just waiting, and existing at times .

Prayers for her peace and comfort come repeatedly from my lips, but when I observe her plight, and am apart of her angst…it is too much.

We attempt to alleviate the suffering of our loved ones, because we love them obviously. There are times we must just sit by, and allow them to be in their place of despair, and not look away. This is a raw and rugged chair, filled with prickles to sit upon.

I walked over to the CD player, and switched on the sounds of birds chirping. It seemed that we both were in need of a change of scenery.

I remarked how nice it was to hear the birds, and asked her about their songs. Distraction and redirection is the name of the game.

Her shadow box outside of her room which displays a tangible, and three dimensional model of the person who lives in this rom

I picked up a housing magazine for us to read and look at together, and I placed her Sun hat on her head. Sunlight streamed in and was warm on her frame. The memory of turning pages can be challenging one moment, then completely recalled in the next.

We have matching pants

The mood changed… thankfully.. I breathed a sigh of relief and hoped that the medicine incident was behind us now.

I found a swishy exercise tube, filled with fluid that I had forgotten was still among her belongings. I gave it to her to hold. She said, “ ooh that is cold,” and nearly dropped it.

I told her it was good to hold and squeeze to help her arthritic hands get some exercise. I said that I did similar exercises, and found it to be good stress relief too, because you could squeeze it really hard, and it would not break.

I told her to think of it like she was milking a cow, and this was the cow’s teet.

That’s when her face broke out into smiles, and silent laughter. But she got it. She is a farm girl after all, and she began palpating the water filled tube time and again. It was rhythmic and comforting.

I said since you are “ milking the cow,” would you like some chocolate milk to go with it?”

This made us both laugh.. and she agreed that she would like some.

I said, “maybe this chocolate milk came from a chocolate cow.. those are the best kinds you know.”

Still smiling.. she nodded, and I helped her to some chocolate “ ensure.”

She said..” yum,” and made a happy little smile.. the bitter taste of sour meds was behind us… until next time.

We both knew right then there were no chocolate cows, but in a perfect world there would be..

When I woke up this morning, I opened my email to find an encouraging word from Susie Larson. I signed up for these, and they are always a welcome message. My friend Sharon originally introduced me to them.

Today’s daily blessing said,

“May you belly laugh out loud with reckless abandon. It’s good for your soul, and it’s excellent for your health. May you pray with faith and dream wildly with God, the ultimate Dream Maker.”(Susie Larson)

Ok.. done. Today is a new day, so we will find more humor in situations that tickle our fancy. It’s a good face workout too.. To have your cheeks ache from laughing too hard is the best kind of body ache if one were to choose.

Mum said a few poignant and funny things like

“ are we all like this when we get older?”

“ Um yes, I think we are,” I said with a smile .

Then..” nobody asked if I had a reason,” she said with a smirk.

Before I could respond she then said, “ sell them a pony then run for your life.”

I’m not 100% on how all of these phrases fit together, but it seemed to be some good questions and comments.

We laughed about her words…the mood was lighter..and the present circumstances floated up to the surface, and we were carried like feathers on the wind, all wispy, and gentle with our laughter. I reckon there were people out there praying for us right then and there… I could sense it surrounding us.

I’ve decided that I am going to use the word “ reckon” more in sentences. New goal for 2021. I like the way I hear a country song when I say it, and this pleases me.

These times.. shared… endured. I hug her small frame from behind my mask and face shield and keep reminding her that I am wearing my bizarre space suit to keep her safe. She peers at me and tries to see through, and understand. I explain that she wore protective gear as a nurse, then a light would dawn from her, and there was understanding, or at the very least acceptance of my get up.

I read her encouraging stories about Motherhood from “ Chicken Soup for a Mother’s Soul.” They are short stories with prayers at the end.. she seems to enjoy these, and often dozes off during my reading.

I say often, “ it’s Jill Mum,” and she says..

“ I know your voice.”

That phrase is so very precious to me.

Also when she said,

“thank you for your care,” my heart exploded with love for her

6 thoughts on “Laugh till your cheeks hurt..

  1. Thanks for sharing Jill. Sweet memories and the blessing of serving our parents as they journey towards that face to face with their Saviour!


    1. So true Keith… it feels as if the curtain is lifting, and soon we will be together … It is humbling to come alongside our parents in their later years, as they prepare for heaven.


  2. This was both lovely to read and heart breaking at the same time. God willing we will all be there one day (taking care of our parents and being taken care of!)
    It was lovely to know you’re able to visit her and care for her during these lonely days. Yet it is heart breaking that this pandemic exists and forces us to wear protective gear like the gloves seen in your photo. Not being able to truly touch her hand (even though it’s for her safety) is bitter sweet. Thankfully she “knows your voice” and that brings comfort, just as you said.


    1. Hi Michelle, and thank you for your thoughts. it is a difficult time and as you said, through gloved hands verses skin to skin is not quite the same.

      I am thankful I can be there with her.


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