There is something about the arrival of spring that brings on a nesting instinct in me and my oldest daughter, Anna. As the days grow longer and the temperatures grow warmer, we get this urge to make our house more homey – inside and out. Yesterday afternoon, as the younger kids played with neighborhood friends, we sat in the sun and dreamed up the things we would like to accomplish to make the yard look better and the interior more attractive. We dream big. Never mind that her spring break is over now and she’s in for the busiest six weeks of the semester. Never mind that we’re in the middle of Lent, with Holy Week and Easter right around the corner – something sure to fill my time for the next month. By the time we both come back up for air, the weather will be hot, the humidity high, and our nesting instinct extinct. But this weekend – look out! We hit the ground running. (No pun intended, but you may want to keep in mind the “hit the ground” part.)
We started inside. As most homes do – I pray ours isn’t the only one – clutter piles up in every corner. The clutter had to go. With trash bags in hand, we chucked any possible sentimentality for objects we’ve collected into the bags along with the objects themselves. We made our new vacuum cleaner work overtime. We made multiple trips from our upstairs to the trash can outside. On one of those many trips (once again, no pun intended) I had a trash bag in my hand as I started down the stairs. I was wearing my favorite old flip-flops. (Emphasis on “old.” The bottoms are worn slick. And maybe I need to add another qualifier – my former favorite old flip flops.)
Somehow, I’m not sure how since it happened so fast, my slick-bottomed flip-flops slid off the edge of one of the steps about halfway down the staircase. I landed on my bottom – hard – but I didn’t stay there. After a very brief pause, I continued my bump-bump-bump journey down the steps, unable to get any traction with my feet. Apparently there was a smidgeon of sentimentality left for the trash in that bag, because I managed to hold it up safely during the entire ordeal.
I know what you’re thinking. Anna came running to make sure I was okay, right? Only half right. She came running, all right, and arrived in time to witness my final bumps down the stairs. But instead of checking to make sure that dear old mom was in one piece and okay, she rolled in the floor (literally) at the top of the steps, laughing so hard that she couldn’t breathe nor talk.It’s a sickness in my family. Really, it is. It comes from my mom’s side of the family. Whenever witnessing a fall, certain members of my family (my mom and my daughter, for example), dissolve in laughter.
I remember going with my mom to the Holiday Inn in Anderson for a reception of some sort back when I was a preteen. A woman tripped on the steps in front of us and fell. I was mortified because my mom laughed.
Years later I worked with my parents, my grandfather, and an aunt and uncle to demolish an old tenant house on the farm. We were on top of the house, removing the tin from the roof with crowbars. My grandfather, pushing 80 at the time, stepped off one of the rafters, The wood beneath him gave way. He would have fallen all the way through, only he was straddling a rafter beam. Yeah – ouch. My mom and my aunt laughed!
They aren’t being mean or rude or heartless when they laugh, although I’m not sure that a bystander would get that. I think it is a reflex reaction to anxiety, sudden unexpected happenings, and maybe even pain. Back when we lived in Landrum, our family doctor said he wanted to be in the delivery room on the day Anna gives birth to her first child. He said this because every time he treated her for an athletic injury, and there were many, many of those in the ten years we lived there, she laughed her way through the examinations. He said she would probably be the first woman ever to laugh her way through labor and delivery and he wanted to be there to see it.
No, I wasn’t hurt too much in the fall. Yes, I laughed, too. I guess I have at least some of the genes in me as well. I survived with a skinned elbow, a bruised foot, and a very sore tailbone.
Anna didn’t go to church today, which may have been a good thing. Something tells me that each time I gingerly took my seat during worship, she would have remembered yesterday’s bump-bump-bump debacle and would have giggled her way through church.
And I maybe would have giggled with her.