This article is brought to you by Snarklets, Bracelets & Gifts Hand Stamped with Mantras for Real Life.
My Grandmother’s last act in her very long career as a nurse was carrying me out of the hospital. With both of my parents working full time, a large portion of her retirement was spent taking care of me. My memories of her are some of the most vivid and pleasant growing up. When I dream of my childhood, more often than not, those dreams take place in the halls of her townhome in Sheraden, Pennsylvania.
My grandmother lived a long and happy life. She raised five children who in turn provided her with a dozen grandchildren. When life spread us all apart across the country, I was the only grandchild to remain in the area. It made our bond that much tighter. As she got older though, things started to change. While it seemed to happen rather quickly, her life spent in nursing had actually probably helped her hide it from us for years. My grandmother slipped into the darkness that is Alzheimer’s disease.
For a time, she lived with my aunt and her family in Georgia. When it became clear that the disease had progressed to the point that she was going to need more professional care, she was moved to a nursing home in Texas, not far from where another one of my aunts, who was also a nurse, would be able to check in on her on a regular basis.
I hadn’t seen my grandmother in almost 5 years by the time I had finally gotten to Texas. I had been in school while she had been in Georgia and while I had seen her in the early stages of the disease, I had never been privy to a bad day. The day we went to visit her was a bad day. If you’ve never been in a room with a loved one who couldn’t remember who you were, I don’t recommend it.
Yet that trip was also one of the highlights of my youth. After visiting my grandmother in Houston, my dad and I drove all over Texas. We visited the beach in Galveston. We went to the Alamo in San Antonio. We tubed down the river in New Braunfels. As we cruised from city to city we ate in every little dive BBQ joint I could find. We spent hours in the car and didn’t turn on the radio once. It was as if every trip we had ever taken together had culminated into one final father/son bonding experience before I crossed fully into adulthood (or as close as I’d ever get to adulthood anyway.) The week that I had contained a day where I had experienced one of the most emotionally trying times of my youth also contained some of the most fun with my father that I ever had.
Life will throw endless challenges our way. It will test us every single day. It will provide us with adversity. Yet everyday offers us an opportunity to laugh, to smile and to play. You can take the worst day you’ve ever had and still find a moment, no matter how fleeting, of happiness.
It’s something that I do my best to convey to my children. At three years old, they’ve got a pretty good grasp on having fun every day. I’m not going to lie, at this age, they make it easier for me to find a reason to have fun every day as well. No matter how trying they can be, they still make me laugh every single day. Have you ever put a toddler in timeout for hitting his brother only to have him stare you dead in the face and defiantly scream “MASHED POTATOES!” at you? You try and keep a straight face during that.
Some days it’s harder than others. We live in a world where it is so difficult to let the stress and anxiety of work, health, finances, politics, or having your favorite team’s quarterback get beaten with his own helmet work their way into our family time. It shortens our fuse and makes those moments of frustration bloom into full on anger or even outright despair. It can make it harder to even recognize those opportunities to bring that desperately needed joy into our life when all we feel are those outside pressures. It’s times like that we need to remind ourselves that it’s ok to put those things on pause for a time and embrace the good in our lives and find just a few moments in our day to have fun.
It doesn’t have to be a lot. Take the kids out for a milkshake. Play a few rounds of hide and seek. Throw the ball in the back yard or go for a walk. Pull up some funny videos up on YouTube and laugh as a family. Take the time to explain to your children that, despite doctored video evidence, Han shot first. Provide an act of kindness to someone you love.
If nothing else, find a way to be that something fun in someone else’s day. After all, fun is infectious, what better excuse do you need to finally go viral.
This article was brought to you by Snarklets, Bracelets & Gifts Hand Stamped with Mantras for Real Life.
Dale was born in Pittsburgh, PA but currently lives outside of Reading, PA. He graduated with a BA in photojournalism from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA in 2007. He has worked as a Marketing Brand Representative in the optical industry for five years. Dale lives in a quiet suburb with his beautiful wife and twin three-year-old boys. He enjoys Pittsburgh sports, comic books and bad action movies from the 80’s and 90’s. Dale also runs a comedic twitter account under the handle @TwinzerDad.