The Best Medicine

In May/June of 2012, I was away for almost two months helping my sister Maxine recover from a shoulder replacement operation.  Maxine and I are as different as peanut butter is from swiss cheese.  A lot of our childhood was spent in arguing about these differences.  But there are many things we do have in common such as our love of books, reading the Bible, and singing God’s praises.  She in a choir and me on a worship team in our respective churches.

When packing for the trip north, I threw in two of Phil Callaway’s books – “Making Life Rich Without Any Money”, and “Who Put My Life On Fast Forward”.  I love Phil’s books because they are filled with laughter (the best medicine) at our own foibles, while bringing a shot of joy and hope through many of life’s trials and tribulations. In other words, when your down in the dumps and need a lift – read Phil’s books.

After her shoulder operation Maxine was not able to hold a book, and the pain relieving drugs meant she could only focus for short periods of time. Needing some encouragement in our lives, I began reading her Phil’s book “Who Put My Life On Fast Forward”.  We spent many happy moments in  laughter contributing not only to her healing but mine as well, since I had lost my husband Neil only five months before.

At this point in Phil’s life he had been married for eighteen years to his wife Ramona. One of the chapters we really enjoyed was ‘Ten Things I Used to Hate About You.’  Maxine, along with our sister Joanna who lived nearby, had all been married for many years, so we were able to relate so well to this list.   I hope Phil doesn’t mind, but I decided to share his list of ‘ten things’ with all of you, along with the encouragement that you buy his book to get the full story.

When Ramona and I were dating, I was attracted to her many attributes, including the way she took life slowly.  I was constantly running…  Three weeks after our honeymoon, the lack of speed… made my adrenaline race… I found myself sitting in the car Sunday mornings… resisting the urge to honk. That doesn’t mean I’ve come to peace with everything she does. Early on I wanted to follow Martin Luther’s example and nail a ‘List of Irritations’ to the bathroom door.  I couldn’t quite come up with 95 theses, but ten came to mind:

1. Your sense of humor is warped.  The funniest thing I did this week was hit my head on a cupboard door.  You laughed as if I were Peter Sellers.  This was not funny to me at the time.  It still isn’t.  Please do not laugh when you read this.

2. A vow of silence is fine for a monk.  Our late-night “fights” are as one-sided as a Chicago Cubs game.  You grow quiet during arguments.  Silence can be a virtue, but it can also be maddening.

3. You are kind to phone salesmen.  On our first anniversary a phone call interrupted a candlelight dinner I had prepared.  You walked away from a perfectly good (albeit rather burned) pizza to talk for upwards of two minutes to a complete stranger because you were too polite to hang up.

4. Generosity isn’t always a virtue.  Last week you made four pies and gave away three.  Our tithe to the church now exceeds the 10 percent solution Jacob recommended in Genesis 28.  You gave ten dollars to the Girl Scouts and the cookies weren’t that great.

5. What’s next, pickle ice cream?  On Wednesday you made banana meat loaf.  Meat loaf is bad enough without the fruit.  What other recipes do you have?  Can we go through them together?

6. Morning is broken.  I am a night owl, you rise with the sun.  You delight in greeting me early and releasing the blind loudly.  Unfortunately, I do not wake up until noon.  Please do not sing to me before 8 a.m. — even on my birthday.

7. You are a cheapskate.  I wanted to buy a new car and you said, “Sure, or shall we just light 3000 dollar bills on fire?”  You believe we shouldn’t spend more than we make.  If this were true, why did they invent credit cards?

8. You throw things away.  Last week my wool sweater went missing.  The one I got for my seventh birthday.  If I don’t glue things down, they walk away.  When we have children will you package them up and send them to the Salvation Army?

9. Necking won’t fit on the calendar.  I love to do things we haven’t planned.  Like quick trips to the city, surprise purchases, or necking on a back road to nowhere.  You like the necking, but you like to plan for it.

10. I am from Switzerland, you are from Zimbabwe.  I love to be on time.  You do not.  Is this a cultural difference?  Meet me in the living room at 8 p.m. sharp and we’ll talk about it.

Laughter has been the best medicine in my life, and by the looks of things I’m sure that Phil believes that too!  

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