Our dad often waited until the last minute to shop for special occasion or holiday cards for all of us. When it was my birthday or Abby’s, we might receive a “Happy Birthday Nephew” or ” To a Great Great-Grandma” Hallmark card with the words scratched out. He would then write “Wonderful Daughter” over the scratched out text, and sign the card inside with all his love.
It was a quirky thing to do but helped us all to realize it was the thought that counts.
Since he was busy working, as well as tending to many things on the home front, Dad would inevitably end up doing this last minute card shopping late the night before the holiday or special event. Growing up in a small town before the days of 24-hour Wal-Mart stores left him with limited options for late-night shopping. Thus, he often found himself with few options for these special Hallmark cards.
One year, on the occasion of his second wife Beatrice’s birthday, the best he could acquire was a birthday card that said “To a Special Aunt.” Of course, he scratched out the words and wrote Special Wife.
His spouse did not find it as amusing as the rest of us did. He tried to say that it was one of a kind (which is true), but she was just not buying it. It might not have helped his case that he could barely contain his chuckling as he pointed out the unique and rare nature of this particular card.
I guess you might say that Beatrice did not have a fully developed sense of humor, or that she just needed to lighten up. No one dared to mention those possibilities to her because she might blow up.
Because she did not find his quirky card giving funny, Dad learned quickly to never give her another scratched out card again. She once again turned something we found funny into a problem, a drama, one of life’s great grievances that had been done to her.
That’s what happens when you forget how to laugh.
Both our mother and our step-mother had difficulty finding their senses of humor. I think it would have helped them both to locate their funny bones. Unfortunately, they took a detour and wound up with overactive mean streaks.
Amazingly, through it all, Dad always maintained his sense of humor.