For years, I picked on “my husband” in my columns, joking about his habits and antics, and many women wrote to tell me how much he reminded them of the men in their own lives. So I guess my editor’s way of thinking was right.
My husband, however, always was pitied by men, who often addressed him as “you poor guy.” Many also said they would file for divorce if they were in his shoes, because it seemed as if nothing he did was sacred…or private.
Little did they know that my husband always enjoyed being written about in my columns. When I would write about the dogs or someone else and not mention him for a week or two, he’d say, “Don’t you love me any more?” And then, more often than not, he’d remind me of something embarrassing he’d done so I would write about it.
Take, for example, the night he woke up and thought he heard a prowler out in the yard. Still half-asleep and wearing only his underwear, he grabbed the ornamental sword he kept by the bed (especially for burglars) and ran outside, where the neighbors’ motion-detector floodlight popped on and bathed him in enough light to enable the entire neighborhood and passengers in low-flying aircraft to see him…standing there in his BVDs and holding a sword over his head.
I laughed about it for days. When he saw how funny I though the incident was, he insisted that I write about it. Thank goodness I married a man with a great sense of humor.
Last week, on December 13, I came home from Christmas shopping and told my husband I was going to take the dog for a short walk. He said, “OK, but hurry back and feed me. I’m hungry.”
I returned 15 minutes later and found him slumped over in his chair. He passed away two days later from a massive stroke.
His name was Joe.
There have been several times during the 18 years I have been writing my column when I’ve thought I’d never be able to write anything humorous because something sad or stressful had happened that week. But Joe would always encourage me by saying, “You can do it. People are counting on you to make them smile and laugh every week. And if you can make even just one person smile, then you’ve succeeded and can feel really proud of yourself.”
After hearing his words, no matter how depressed I was feeling at the time, I’d manage to write something that actually did make people smile. And as an added benefit, I discovered that writing humor turned out to be cathartic in many ways. So I’d usually feel much better afterwards.
But this is one situation when I know that no matter how much of a pep talk I give myself about laughter being the best medicine, I just can’t write humor at the present time. Therefore, I have decided to take a leave of absence from writing this column until I can smile and feel like my zany old self again…and then I promise I’ll be back.
Joe would want it that way.