Friday, September 10, 2010

Remember to laugh...

There's been a discussion on Facebook recently among the caregivers I'm a part of, and we've been talking about how vital it is to keep a sense of humor every day. Sometimes it's hard to do, and some days it's a little easier. It all depends on what's happening around you. On one particular day, my father added a permanent dose of humor into our lives, though I doubt that was his intent at the moment...

Daddy and Mama lived in a fairly busy area near downtown Orlando, in what became an old and well-established neighborhood during the 52 years they were there. They'd seen the neighborhood grow from dirt roads when they moved into their home in 1953 to having the same area become surrounded by some major traffic paths to and from downtown. By 2004, a lot of rush hour traffic would speed by on the block behind their home and on a busy side road that was just one house over.

One day, Daddy evidently felt a need to slow things down. He headed out in his trusty old blue-checked flannel robe, carrying a blowdryer. He didn't say a word to Mama, who probably thought he was napping or watching television as usual.

Now whose blowdryer it was is a mystery to me, because I took mine with me when I married and moved out 30 years earlier, and Mama didn't use one. She still did pin-curls, or at best she'd use foam rollers. Somehow Daddy got his hands on this handy little tool, though, and I guess he thought he'd use it to change the traffic pace a little. He never did approve of fast traffic, and the constant zooming bothered him. So he walked to the end of their block and planted himself comfortably on the sidewalk near the busy side road, and began to aim the blowdryer at oncoming motorists. They would slam on their brakes and slow down, much to Daddy's delight. He was 85 at the time. I guess he must've believed the drivers thought he was a traffic cop waving a radar device. I personally think they wondered about the white-haired guy in the blue-checked flannel robe and slip-on sneakers (signature dresscode for Daddy when he was lounging at home), and why he was pointing a blow dryer with dangling cord and shouting, "Slow down!"

Whatever the case, it worked, and he was greatly satisfied with himself.

Needless to say, he cackled over that for quite a while. Thankfully he retired from his traffic monitoring post before anyone sent the real police after him, and he headed home safely. I suppose he figured he may have been 85 years old, but he could still make a change in the world around him.

I heard about this from a neighbor who witnessed it, and from Daddy himself later on. I wish I had seen it myself...but I'm sure I would have stopped him from doing it in the first place, so he probably was glad his family didn't catch him and spoil his fun.

I still laugh out loud when I think about it. I guess the moral of this story could be, "Are you missing a blowdryer? Do you know where your loved one is right now?"

These were some of our family's early signs that Daddy was "different." Later when the dementia was diagnosed, life got pretty serious and complicated. He's gone now, but he'd chuckle to hear me tell this, I'm sure. In fact, I can still picture that impish grin when he was particularly proud or amused about something. Good memories of a terrific guy.

Tell me some funny stories that have happened in your caregiving experience. It definitely helps to chuckle a bit each day; it's good stress management!

Caregiver at Home


  1. The trick to a happy life is to make the laughter outweigh the tears.

  2. Caregiving gives me a completely different appreciation and respect for laughter and humor. Thank you, Marcus!

  3. Frances : A friend of mine once said her Dad would flip the porch light on and off to control the traffic. He's has been gone for a number of years now.