“Come on Lyn, let’s do the time warp again.” I loved my time as a teacher for senior students with intellectual disabilities. We were all having a ball practicing our version of The Rocky Horror Show for the school concert. There was always lots of laughter. I found each of these students I worked with had a special gift and it was always a joy to see them embrace their gift and learn to work with it. Mostly I enjoyed their sense of humour which was sometimes childish but often showed amazing perception. I have to confess my favourites were those born with Downs Syndrome. Unfortunately, often they are put under the sameness umbrella whereas I found each of them to be totally unique. Some were never able to speak so it was important that we were able to sign and often, as they were better than me at signing, they used it for hysterical advantage at my expense. I have always believed that everybody learns best when there is humour and wherever I have worked in education, humour has been a valuable tool. It was amazing what a difference this made to these young people who were much more aware than people realised.
Humour has helped me through so many difficult situations. When my Matt was close to death in an ICU ward, I would talk and sing to him sometimes all night. During that time, two people in the ward who had been on life support for many months, passed away and the doctors and nurses told me they thought that it was my singing that gave them the impetus to leave. Anytime I ventured into a musical rendition, my family would remind me of this fact.
Humour threatened to go missing when my husband was so seriously ill in ICU but only a few days into this part of the journey, once more humour saved the day. I was having mobility difficulties so was relying on a wheel chair. My daughter had wheeled me into the ICU ward to visit him. By this third day I had become used to his mop of white hair still being tinged with blood following the episode that almost took his life. But on this morning, I was shocked to see a distinct change in hair colour. I could barely recognise the man I had married only six months previously. He was squashed up at the side of the bed with an ominous looking ventilator inserted plus tubes that seemed to be exiting from so many parts of his body. He was a stranger to me, but I leaned over him caressing and kissing his forehead, murmuring words of love and encouragement. I heard a gasp from my daughter standing beside me, “John doesn’t have tattoos does he?” Peals of laughter immediately diffused the tension as staff realised I had been kissing the wrong man. Some comments were, “Wow! I think you made his day.” “Just as well his wife didn’t arrive.” It was good to feel the release of laughter after the grimness of the previous few days. It gave me a new lens to approach my daily visits and helped me through the following six weeks. We rejoiced when he returned home – see the photo, even though he was a shadow of himself.
I am so fortunate to have been blessed with a sometimes-irreverent sense of humour. We all have certainly needed it these past few years. We can slide through the most hideous experiences so much better when we look for the positive. It is great to remember that we are so much stronger and more courageous than we realise and we are never alone. Laughter is certainly our best medicine.