Legacy of Laughter
My big brother Joe, who died recently, was an excellent pediatrician. Admired for his professional competence and genuine caring, he also carried a secret weapon, a weapon that, in the long run, made him a better physician; Joe had a great sense of humor.
I recall him telling me about meeting another doctor at a professional meeting and being asked his specialty. “Pediatrics,”Joe answered. “Oh,” said the doctor, with just a touch of patronizing in his voice. “I can’t understand why anyone would want to spend his career looking after a gaggle of snotty-nosed kids.” Joe replied, “Why, what is your specialty? ”
When the doctor replied “I’m a proctologist,” Joe admits cracking up. (Proctology is a field of medicine dealing with disorders of the rectum, anus and colon.) Joe said, “I’m sorry Doctor but I’ll take the kids any day.”
Another time Joe was working on a team of medical professional and found himself partners with one of those pompous professionals we have all met from time to time. According to my brother, this was a nice guy but he just took himself a little too seriously. The next time he went out on rounds with the doctor, Joe surreptitiously planted a piece of paper on his back with the words “KICK ME.” The sight of the distinguished physician drawing mysterious giggles from the nurses and other staff must have been hilarious. Joe admits that it was a junior high school kind of joke but had no regrets. “In our profession you need to show your human side,”
Having a good laugh, especially at ourselves, is a good weapon to have in our arsenals, whether we be doctors or super market cashiers, old folks or youngins. Laughter puts our lives in perspective when the “woulda, shouda, coudas” of daily living get us down.
A sense of humor enables us to see our lives through the prism of the ancient redwood forests and the mighty ocean and the billions of years our planet has existed. Man o man, we are so blessed just to have been given the gift of life.
We have our role to play as human beings…to tread lightly upon our planet, to be kind to others, to give back the gifts God has honored us with, to stand by our kids and family, to dance and sing and yes,to know how to laugh and share that gift with others.
It helped make my brother Joe an extraordinary doctor. It can turn our own lives into something special as well.
laughter, perspective, sense of humor