He also had diabetes, but he tracked his blood sugars and insulin shots and his food like I've never seen before… we found a STACK of notebooks all faithfully filled out with times and what he ate and how much and what his blood sugar was and when he took a shot and you name it. The detail was pretty significant. So I know for a fact that he had 1 cup of coffee in a French press every morning with half a banana for breakfast. Sometimes an egg if he was feeling rowdy about it. Lunch was generally half a can of tuna with 1 tablespoon of miscellaneous sauce (mayo got boring I guess, day in and day out, so he branched out to poppy seed lemon and Thai peanut and BBQ sauce). There was usually a piece of bread in there somewhere during lunch, it was the big meal of the day. Sometimes he had the second cup of coffee from the French press, I’m sure he microwaved it, to which, I wonder weird things like “If you’re going to go to all the trouble of grinding refrigerated beans fresh and boiling water and farting around with a French press, what on EARTH would possess you to NUKE the second cup?! BLEH.” Dinner was invariably a frozen hamburger patty, also microwaved (you could SO TELL from the microwave, ICK) with BBQ sauce or mustard, followed by a ¼ cup of frozen yogurt. He lived in the fast lane, my Dad. Oh yeah.
So imagine our surprise when we opened his cupboards to find FORTY CANS OF GREEN TEA. The green tea had green tea! And not just garden variety “normal” green tea, it was pomegranate green tea, and lemon green tea, and wheat-grass green tea, and all kinds of crazy-ass variety in there. Sauces by the gross too… EASILY 20 bottles of Kraft BBQ sauce of three different varieties, 10 or 12 bottles of that poppy seed citrus fish sauce stuff too (that stuff turned out to be pretty good actually). And the TUNA, oh my goodness the TUNA was EVERYWHERE. Seriously, it’s like he had a big burst of energy on April 16th, filed his taxes, dealt with the car, did a bunch of laundry, met with a friend for their weekly coffee date, went to the library to check out half their science fiction section, stocked up on groceries from his favorite discount store to last through the next YEAR, got tired, stayed home for a week, logged food until the 27th of April, felt punky, took a nap and died (thankfully, in the middle of the coldest cold snap week on record in the history of history).
He was found on the sofa in front of the TV in his classic “napping” pose (which was rather corpse-like when he was living, I have to say; my siblings and I regularly walked in on him napping and had that pregnant pause waiting to see if his chest was moving!) flat on his back, ankles crossed, fingers interlaced on his chest, just like he’d been laid out in his Sunday best for the Big Box.
At any rate, when he was found, my brother and sister and I were all living on the West Coast, and he was in the home he'd inherited from my grandparents in Winnipeg. So my sister and brother took a ferry to Seattle and we all piled into a van and drove 30 hours straight to get there to get things sorted out. We got to talking in the van on the drive… and my sister had been the main point of contact for the Medical Examiner in Winnipeg, who had mentioned that we might want to “take precautions” because he had clearly been there “a few days” before he was found, and there was a “significant odor” and of course, the sofa was still “in situ”… hmmm. Fun times ahead. Let’s just say that Dad was never much of a neatnik in the first place, mkay!? My sister was rightfully concerned about What We Would Find.
So we stopped in Spokane at the Super Walmart. My brother and sister had never been to one before, so it was kinda shopping, kinda touristy and kinda Armageddon prep… at one point, in the laundry aisle, we looked into the cart at the gloves, disinfectant, drywall masks, Vicks Vaporub, plastic painter’s tarp, duct tape, garbage bags and paper towels and started a serious conversation about the need/futility of Febreeze… and we just CRACKED UP in the aisle at the mental image of dragging in random strangers off the street, blindfolded, and seating them on the sofa in the room where he died and filming a commercial while asking them to describe what they smell... and then it occurred to us that really all we needed was some pool chemicals and a saws-all to convince the cashier that we were going to dispose of the body ourselves… she didn't bat an eyelash. Disturbing? I think so.
At any rate, this IS the point of this post. Losing our minds cracking up with laughter in the middle of a Super Walmart at dark o'clock over the TOTALLY absurd, inane and OFFENSIVE idea of asking people to describe the “fresh breeze and laundry dried in the sun” that they would smell while sitting on the sofa where my Dad DIED wasn't just bizarre, inappropriate and terrible. Though it was all those things too. It was also HEALING. It helped my brother and sister and I bond over this NIGHTMARE we were walking into, while recognizing just how deep down the rabbit hole were already were, and we were still in Washington State!
God has wired us to have all sorts of wonderful chemicals released in our brains when we laugh. Sure it makes the funny stuff funnier, but I know He’s not wasteful, so that had a specific purpose when He designed us this way. We NEED those endorphins to kick in when we’re stressed, overtired, grieving and scared. Laughter is the CURE. We still had plenty of crying and anger and grieving to do, and its fall and I’m not done yet. There’s a reason we refer to laughing as “levity”. Laughing makes us lighter. It lifts the burden by just a fraction for just a minute, and that’s all it takes sometimes to recharge our batteries and allow us to carry on.