I saw this posted somewhere in the fall of 2011, and I sent it out in an e-mail to different family members. It cracks me up and suits us very well. As far as me and my people are concerned, “normal” is a setting on the dryer and nothing more.
It was just a few weeks after I sent this out that I found myself seated in the parlor of the funeral home with my Mama, my sister, and my Aunt. We were there to arrange for Daddy’s service. It was to be a simple, graveside service at the old country church where Daddy had spent many hours taking care of the grounds in recent years, where some of the plots read like our family tree. If he couldn’t be buried in the back pasture at home, it was where he wanted to be.
We took the seats offered and waited while Miss M had to go take a call in her office. We were somewhat relieved. We could take a moment to breathe and gather our thoughts. Everything was happening so quickly. We looked at each other, and someone whispered, “Now y’all remember, as far as anyone is concerned…..” and we all joined in with a stage whisper, “we are a nice NORMAL family.” And we couldn’t help but burst out laughing.
Which is when Miss M returned from her office. Ah yes, that would be about right. But she was full of grace and didn’t blink an eye. I am sure she’s seen all kinds of emotions in that very same room. She was very good, guiding Mama through the decisions efficiently and kindly. In the middle of Mama asking us what we thought about one detail or another, Sandy, who needed to use the facilities, piped up and said, “Excuse me, do you know where your bathroom is?” Oh my. We were done for then. And yes, we still remind her of that story. Often.
That whole “being” a nice normal family thing stuck with us over the next sixteen months. Through dealing with situations we never had before, we had to remind ourselves how “proper” folk behave and try to act accordingly. It was especially helpful during the HospitalStay with Mama. Sandy and I were together during so much of it, and we had to realize that not everyone could appreciate our humor in dealing with the “situation.” Some laughed, some became our friends during the stay, but others…..well, I saw this the other day and can’t quit laughing. Yeah, that’s how we looked I am sure. (I just wanted to say, “Come on people laugh, loosen up. We’re funny people, right?”)
Yeah, I’m sure we looked that way a lot. We were cutting up and all you could hear was crickets.
What is normal? Who decides what normal is? So much stress in life is over that word. Normal. We want to fit in, we want folks to laugh at our jokes, to admire our outfits, to praise our opinions. But the truth of the matter is normal is only in the eye of the beholder. Each one of us deals with things as best as he or she can. If we start worrying about what the “normal” thing to do would be, we’ll really stress ourselves out. In fact, I think “normal” changes as we do. What would have been normal for my family two years ago is far from it today.
Tonight I’m thankful for a family who is not so normal but full of good folks who will love you through the hard stuff, celebrate the good stuff, and listen to all the stories in between. I’m thankful for memories of inappropriate laughter and for understanding funeral home directors. I’m really thankful for those eels tonight, because they make me laugh. And normal or not, laughter is good for you, I don’t care who you are.