“All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them” – Isak Dinesen
Every morning I receive an email called Daily Affirmations. I don’t remember signing up for it; I think that it was part of the package I bought from Brings Funeral home. I have read every message that has been sent to me, 295 in total. The quote above came from the message today. The Readers Digest version of today’s message was how stories and cherished memories stay deep in your heart, residing there always and will be there to bring fond memories of the shared past.
This brings me to the title of this post, Laughter in A Broken Washing Machine. In 2005, Theresa was pregnant with Ryan, my one and only child. In October or November, 2005, I came home from work one day to find Theresa is a state of absolute hysteria. I dropped everything and tried to get her to tell me what was the matter. No matter how hard she tried, all she could do was cry. I started asking if she was sick, hurt, sad? She shook her head no to each question and all I was left with was confusion. Finally, she grabbed my hand, walked me over to the washing machine and pointed at it. More confused than before, I opened the lid and saw that it was half full with water. Finally, she was able to produce some recognizable words and said in a hysterical voice, “The washing machine is broke, it’s full of water and I can’t get it out”. This was my first go around in 35 years with a hormonal, very pregnant woman. I laughed and said, “Is that all that’s wrong”. Fortunately, I could move faster than she could and was able to get out of the way when she came after me.
I told her that it was OK. I would get a bucket and bail out the water and dump it into the bath tub. After that, we would go to the store and buy a new one, which we did. That washer, purchased in 2005 and older than Ryan is what made me laugh today. As I was removing the rubber seal and door latch mechanism I couldn’t help but laugh at something that took place almost 12 years ago. To be sure, all of those memories are stored forever in my heart and it’s great to pull them out and smile at the joy they bring to me. I started to laugh and Ryan asked what was so funny. I shared this with him and he just rolled his eyes. I guess you had to be there!
Yesterday, Ryan and I spent most ofthe afternoon at our Oro Valley house. Ryan, playing Minecraft and Dad, installing hardwood flooring. After the room was complete, we packed our stuff up and headed back to our Sahuarita house. We were driving along and Ryan asked me this question, “Dad, what do you think Mom does when she see’s you and me hugging or laughing?” I said, “I’m pretty sure she is filled with overwhelming joy” He reached over, put his arms around me and said, “#bringonthejoy”. Afterwards, he asked me many questions about his Mom. Tell me again how she told you she was pregnant with me. Tell me what was the first thing you said to me when you saw me. What was the first thing Mom said to me when she saw me. When was the first time you kissed her.
This has been a crazy journey for Ryan and I. For him, the good days vastly outnumber the bad ones and he delights in hearing all about Theresa and asks so many questions about her. I know that we are creating memories for him to cherish for the rest of his life. He didn’t get to experience these memories like I did, but the stories will live on, long after I’m gone. I’ve decided to start writing these down in a journal that Ryan will have to share with his wife and kids when that day comes.
I shared these words with him last night, the words that came to me from Fr. John Petro in April. “There are some journeys in life, Patrick, that we must walk alone. And this is one of them for you. Others may offer their support, their prayers and their help in many wonderful ways, but, at the end of the day, it is a journey that only you can walk. No one can enter that sacred place that defined your relationship with Theresa. And, no one can ever take it away from you either. Please treasure that sacred place as Theresa’s lasting gift to you.” I told Ryan that while we are walking together, he also has a journey that he must walk alone. These memories that he is learning about through the multitude of questions are his Mom’s lasting gift to him as well.