Laughter is the best medicine


(Editor’s note: This week, we dip into our Sutherland archives for this column from this week 10 years ago. Enjoy!)

Some of the best jokes are those played out in real life.

Many years ago, my father had an uncle who had married into the family. Ed was a hard-working man who also knew how to have fun, as he enjoyed life to the fullest.

One weekday morning, Ed went into work and said to his boss, “Sir, I would like to go to my mother-in-law’s funeral on Friday.”

The boss, who often told Ed he was his best worker, immediately laid his hand on Ed’s shoulder and said, “Son, anything you need, of course.”

Before sun-up on Friday, Ed had gathered a bucket of bait and was situated at his favorite fishing spot. The weather on that spring day in the early 1940s was perfect for some prime fishing. He kept at it until his bait bucket was empty and his fish bucket was full.


Two weeks went by. Ed was hard at work on a new project early one morning when the boss came storming in.

“Ed! You lied to me, boy! I just saw your mother-in-law on my way in here this morning!”

Ed, of course, was prepared for this eventually.

“Well, sir, I never lied to you. I told you quite clearly that I would like to go to my mother-in-law’s funeral. It just didn’t pan out that way, so I went fishing instead.”

The irony of this story is that Ed never did get to attend his mother-in-law’s funeral, as he died quite young of cancer before she did. And the boss never fired him but kept him on until he was too sick to work.

April Fool’s Day

My great-grandpa Charlie was another famous jokester who loved April Fool’s Day as if it were a sacred holiday. One April, while I was still a preschooler, Charlie involved me in one of his pranks.

Dad was checking a field, preparing to spread lime, if I remember correctly, and left me with Grandpa Charlie in the truck. Next thing I knew, I was sitting at the steering wheel, propped up on a box. Grandpa Charlie was situated on the floor of the truck, running the foot pedals.

He told me not to move the steering wheel in any direction, but to “hold her steady” as we began moving across that wide open field.

“OK, now wave to your Daddy!” he instructed me, which I did with glee.

Slowly we came to a stop. I was so proud of myself as I kept on waving to my father who was making a mad dash toward the truck.

As the door opened, Grandpa Charlie peered up through my feet and shouted, “April Fool’s!” with a hearty belly laugh.

Infamous moment

Another of Grandpa Charlie’s famous — or infamous — moments involved his storytelling at community club one night. It was Grandpa Charlie’s turn to tell a story from his life, and he chose to speak of his old dog he had named Herbert Hoover.

He dearly loved that dog that he had taught to perform all sorts of tricks and helpful maneuvers on the farm, such as opening and closing gates, herding and holding livestock. When Charlie spoke of that dog, his bright blue eyes sparkled.

“Ah, they say that every man is entitled to one good woman and one good dog in his lifetime.”

Grandpa Charlie paused, deep in thought.

“Well, I had me a mighty fine dog once!” he said.

No one in the room knew whether to laugh or not, but eventually, no one could hold back and the entire place erupted in laughter, with the exception of his decidedly sour-faced wife.

Where would any of us be without a good dose of laughter?

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