When I was 10 years old, my Grandmother taught me how to laugh in face of adversity.
It was one of the most valuable lessons I ever received. And to this day, humor is my fail-safe remedy for handling setbacks. In fact, I’ve become pretty, pretty, pretty good at finding some parcel of hilarity even amidst the bleakest of circumstances.
It all began at the iconic Macy’s Department Store on 34th Street. I was with my Grandmother, my Aunt and my two younger sisters about to embark on a shopping spree. As most grandparents do, my Grandmother loved to spoil us. But on this particular day, my Grandmother was in an even more generous mood. She and my Grandfather had just driven back from a winning weekend at Atlantic City. Between her AC loot and Gloria Vanderbilt just coming out with her new velour line, this was going to be one helluva shopping spree!
We had just finished eating lunch at the cafe. As my Grandmother was paying the check, someone must have caught a glimpse of her sifting through the thousands of dollars she was carrying in her purse.
About 5 minutes after leaving the restaurant, on our way to the Young Miss Section, I see my Grandmother – in heels – sprinting down the escalator, screaming, “Help! Somebody, stop her! That woman just stole my purse!”
Sadly, as it so often happens, the thief got away.
Instead of being draped in velour, we spent the rest of the afternoon in a dingy police station, filing a police report. The anguish of being robbed is bad enough. But, only now, as a mother, am I able to really grasp how traumatizing it must have been for my 62 year old Grandmother to be in a New York City police station – amid felons – with her 3 young granddaughters (ages 10, 8 and 4).
But if she was traumatized, she never once let it show.
That evening, the family went out to dinner for a meal that I will never forget.
All we did during the entire meal was laugh. We laughed about my Grandmother’s track skills. We cracked up envisioning her on a future cover of a Wheaties box. Even the seedy police station now seemed funny. My family caused quite the ruckus in an upscale restaurant. Jokes were flying. Chairs were shaking. Our laughter was so infectious that even the waiters and fellow patrons couldn’t help but laugh along.
The day that my Grandmother was robbed in Macy’s remains one of my all-time favorite family memories.
Even today, I can still hear my Grandma’s laugh. I carry it with me wherever I go. And it never fails to comfort me in moments of darkness.
I am forever grateful for my Grandmother’s jovial spirit and for showing me that laughter really is the best medicine – well except for Garlic. But, that’s a story for another post.
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