My grandmother always told me that laughter is the best medicine and it should be taken often. Her wrinkles, she claimed, were not caused by old age, but by laughing as she so often pointed at creases on the edges of her dry, parched lips. I remember visiting her at the colourful house in my youthful years, wide eyed in wonder, as I viewed the vibrant scenery. Faintly cracking, pink paint plastering the chipped wooden walls accompanied by stained glass windows depicting a wide array of tropical flowers.
Walking up the creaky steps gave me sense of delight, something about the way they bended underneath my tiny sneakers always left me giggling until my mom joined in as well; the stairs were the start of my wondrous visits. With a frown, my grandmother would open the door right before we were about to and say “Hey! It’s you again! Didn’t I tell you last time I didn’t want any spoiled grandchildren on my porch!” and with a shiny, denture-filled smile she would continue, “Come on inside, will you?”
“Mother, you do this every time… Isn’t it getting old?” my mom would typically reply.
“Old?! The only thing that’s getting old is me!” Grandma usually guffawed as she tapped her fake teeth. She would then look right back at me and say “Just kidding. I’m not a day over twenty nine! At heart, that is!” Following that classic line was a hearty laugh, which could only be associated with a broken lawn mower.
Looking back on it, my grandmother was never really that funny, often laughing unnecessarily, making weird noises, and referencing Robin Williams’ movies I was too young to understand. Nevertheless, I can confidently say that I never left her house without laughing; while the jokes were bad and the food made me grimace, she somehow got me grinning ear to ear. However, I can distinctly recall one time, when I was looking around her house. I ventured into the gray kitchen, the gray living room, and her gray bedroom. It always fascinated me how brilliantly boring the inside of her abode was, almost as if the only splash of colour came from her talkative mouth.
My little adventure came to an end when I inspected a keep safe from her deceased husband, a tall closet, which stood out in stark contrast to the ashy drywall. Not because it was a bright pink, but because it was painted the blackest black I have ever seen in my entire life. Blacker than midnight, it’s as if the closet sucked in all the light in the room through its many cracks in the carefully crafted woodwork. I was just about to grasp its obsidian handle when my Grandma swiftly walked into the room, with a freshly baked batch of cookies. “Dearie!” she called, “I’m at the end of my rope! I’ll be mad if you stay in my room…” she paused, “But…” another pause, “But I’m mad for these cookies right here! Come have some in the kitchen willya?”
“Ok, Grams!” I replied, “But what’s in thi-”
“Nothing, nothing, now come along now.” she said. Reluctantly, I left the room and returned to the kitchen.
The incident in her bedroom was about twenty years ago, I’m now turning twenty six. After that visit, I never saw Grandma again. My Mother insists that she had passed away from a heart attack and she had a quiet funeral with the adults in the family. I, however, have my doubts; I reminisce the one time she didn’t reference Robin Williams in a story. It went something like this:
“Heard joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor…I am Pagliacci.” (Alan Moore, Watchmen)
I’m not sure what it means, but sometimes I wonder where she is, and if she’s doing well. It often troubles me that someone can disappear like that, especially since she’s always laughing and smiling. In the end though, whether I know the answer or not, all I can do is laugh it off, just like she did.