… rantings of a depressive procrastinator. Did I mention, I write? …

WAG #31: Laugh Til You Cry

Friday 23 July 2010 - Filed under WAG

             Once in a rare while, in my childhood, a bustling broke out: wiping, sorting, dusting; someone oiled a hinge; granddad tidied his workbench; Junior or Jimmie Dale mowed what lawns we had as well as the wide, grassy alley behind our fence, and coiled the long snake of green garden hose stretched to the spigot out back. Unmistakably, company was coming. It might be a great-aunt or –uncle—I’d speculate—from Missouri or Kansas, or by car all the way from California. They’d stay too short a time; tell kitchen-table stories I couldn’t grasp concerning people whose names I’d only heard. And laugh, how they did laugh. Early morning to well past the time that, under protest, we children were trundled off to our beds; I remember the laughter.

             I’d hear the murmurs rise and fall. The mixed cadence of voices around the kitchen table—our favored gathering place. A woman’s low alto would begin. A quiet baritone might interrupt; provide the year or the name. On it would go. Until I lost my way and slept.

              Soon, though, the leaving day came. Grownups hugging—that odd sight I never grasped—hugging and crying. Uncles, unnerved by tears, would quickly remind “the girls” of last night’s laugh-till-you-cry-and-begged-him-to-stop story and again laughter. Moist-eyed laughter. Long back-patting embraces. More tears.

               Today I understand. We must love until it hurts. We must laugh over shared stories until we cry, watch them on our inner movie-screens; be good brothers and sisters and, interrupting, correct the name or place or year or occasion. We must ache over the good-byes to have done our jobs well as human beings.

              I am old, now, the child I once was alive and well. At last, I understand my grandmother’s weeping for days afterward, washing dishes, laughing then crying, hands slipping deftly over each plate, rinsing beneath the scalding cascade that matched her, tear for tear. Granddad tightening the vise bolted to his workbench, blinks back tears and blows his nose. It’s the love, the laughter, the known sweet agony of hello and goodbye.

                We know we are eternal, or believe it’s so. Until we love enough to laugh until we cry, cling to one another and pat backs one-two-three—seven times—reluctant to turn loose, only then are we fit to leave life.

2010-07-23  »  Kate

Talkback x 5

  1. Ardee-ann
    23 July 2010 @ 10:18 am

    “Laugh Til You Cry” made me cry…I know those relative visits, I know those stories and I know the laughing till you cry. Almost all of those relatives have passed on now and the stories are lost in the passage of time. My mom, dad and I remember some of them but for the most part my siblings and our children don’t care about the stories so they are just lost.

    Now we get together and tell our own stories we laugh and we cry. We (my siblings, parents and I) live within an hour of each other so we see each other regularly and when we do there are new stories to add to the old and the story telling tradition continues along with the laughter.

    Thanks for sharing your story (even if it is fiction.)



    @Ardee-ann, Welcome to the WAG and thank you for your generous comments; I’m glad it resonated for you.

    Much of my so-called fiction isn’t.

  2. Tweets that mention WAG #31: Laugh Til You Cry | Kate McIntire --
    23 July 2010 @ 10:36 am

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter. Kate McIntire said: #WAG She's at it again. @IndiaDrummond Writers'Adventure Group. Stop by and *Laugh Til You Cry* Welcome, all you writers and readers.

  3. J. M. Strother
    23 July 2010 @ 9:30 pm

    Another great WAG, Kate. Very much like my own memories, only our meeting place was around the dinning room table. The muted voices carrying up the stairs – that part really got me; drifting in and out of earshot until I drifted off to sleep. Beautiful.

    @Jon, you’re so kind. This little piece came together quite fast — we’d been sitting in the morning cool, out back, me composing poetry in my head when one of those Ah-Ha Moments hit. This little piece was an off-shoot of it. So glad you had this kind of experience, too. Kate

  4. Estrella Azul
    24 July 2010 @ 6:20 am

    Wow, such a wonderful slice of life here, you did and excellent job of writing it, Kate! And it bears so much truth to it…

    @Estrella – Thank you for leaving a comment and such a nice compliment; I’m especially happy the truth came through.

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