I had a vision for my life. Perfection of the sort seen on big screens and small greeting cards everywhere. I had a vision of my life – and then I lived it.
The white picket fence with the blended family of four – two steps, two bios — all living happily together, memorialized in holiday photos populated by beautiful, fit people all of whom adored each other…. The grand professional successes celebrated in photos barely in need of airbrushing. That life remains on editing rooms floors and greeting card factories.
There was divorce, death, infertility … and, the most dreaded off all, weight gain! The ‘daring’ un-blonding of my hair. The life lived. This life. My life. The bright, blond children… who produce imperfect grades and scores. The great American novel that remains more in my head than on the page. This warm, chaotic life is the one that gives me material on which to thrive – and envision the next, better draft. Memorialized by silly selfies, decisions and actions in need of Mulligans… This life, my blessed life. I wouldn’t change it for all the world… not even one with a white picket fence.
“I don’t know how much to laugh,” he said. Good question. I don’t know how hard everyone should laugh at my Parkie jokes either.
My daughter made fun of my tremor recently, flopping her hand to-and-fro on the counter like a fish gasping for breath on a ship’s deck. I wanted to scream with joy – she’s comfortable enough with my disease to make fun of it! I wanted to scream with horror – surely, my claw does not tremor this badly! I wanted to scream with rage; the mockery of a disrespectful child! The underlying reason that gives her the fodder to make fun of me.
But I was quiet. I sucked it up and waited for my tween’s frustration to play itself out. We finished the conversation. She went to bed. I went to the Chardonnay.
How much to laugh? When I make the joke – as much as you want. I want you to laugh with me – to join me in my delusion that I can control my decline by laughing all the way… ho, ho, ho. Laugh with me, not at me, and then all of us can enjoy a good chuckle.