Giggling with Grandpa

Humor Helps, Laughter Heals
Article Text: “The difference between a good hair cut and a bad hair cut is about two weeks.” – This is not a statement that most men dared say to a distressed woman wailing about a hair appointment gone bad. Harold McElravy, aka Grandpa Mac was not like most men.
The first time I met my father-in-law was sixteen years ago. In September of 1989, three months after Larry and I eloped, we took our blended family to Nebraska to meet Larry’s family.

Grandma and Grandpa Mac saw double when Larry and I showed up with two seven year old boys and two five year old girls. Our sons are three weeks apart and our daughters are 5 weeks apart in age.

Right off the bat, Grandpa Mac introduced us to his astounding sayings. One of our girls came in from playing and complained, “My arm hurts when I lift it up.” Grandpa told her, “Then don’t lift it up.”

Harold was notorious for providing insights or advice through his personal idioms, which the family referred to as “Haroldisms.” While we busted up laughing at Grandpa’s quips, it was equally fun to take-in Grandma’s reaction and hear, “Har…old!”

At the end of our first visit, Harold hugged me and whispered, “Keep him happy, and I don’t mean in the kitchen.” When I told Larry, he grinned and explained, “Dad is convinced that a lot of divorces are caused because the wife turned into a cold potato.”

There was only one thing Grandpa Mac loved more than telling a good joke or a funny story…and that was drowning a worm (fishing). Stumped by the meaning of Grandpa’s expressions, the grandkids often looked to someone for an explanation.

Henry Ward Beecher said, “A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.”

During trying times, a sense of humor distances us from reality for a moment, so we can regain our perspective. Laughter reminds us that our situation is not the end of the world, even though it feels like it is.

This does not apply to Nebraska Cornhusker Football. According to most Husker fans, and Dad was no exception, the world does come to a halt when Nebraska plays ball. Whenever Larry asked Dad if he was ready for the big game, (and they were all big games) he replied, “Yup – got my ankles taped.”

Five years ago, Harold McElravy survived cancer to endure shingles pain. As I write this article, he lay on his death bed, surrounded by his family. Even in his last days, he continues to share his sense of humor with us. He woke one afternoon, smiled at Jane, his wife of 49 years and asked, “What should we do this afternoon?” Jane giggled. And then Harold fell back asleep.

“Laughter is the shock absorber that eases the blows of life.” – Unknown

Harold passed away on June 10,2006. The laughter and memories he imparted in each of us keep his memory alive.

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Lois McElravy, Lessons from Lois, works with individuals and organizations who want to learn how to use the power of humor and the magic of laughter to handle the demands and pressures of work and home, adjust to constant change, deal with difficult people, cope with the unpredictable swift pace of life, product positive outcomes and have more fun.

Learning to laugh and “hangin’ on with humor” rescued Lois from the distress and despair surrounding her daily life, and initiated her recovery from a brain injury. Lois’ keynotes and trainings entertain, inspire and stimulate audiences to examine their own response to challenge and adversity. Hilarious personal stories, “Lessons from Lois” impart life-changing insights and equip participants with humor strategies and practical solutions to overcome the seriousness of their life challenges and feel happy.

Her universal message renews hope and motivates others to consistently do small things so they can achieve amazing results one day at a time.

©2012 Lois McElravy, Lessons from Lois – Permission to reprint or repost this article is granted by including the above byline and Lois’ contact information.