I don’t know about you, my ALS brothers and sisters, but there have been times during my ALS sojourn when I have needed a real laugh to chase the blues away … But at some point, when speaking and breathing became more of an effort, I lost the ability to laugh. I, who had spent a good part of my life laughing or making others laugh, could no longer do either. It is amazing how things become less funny when you can’t express your mirth. Laughter is a gift from God and it makes you feel wonderful. All you parents out there, don’t you remember the first time your baby had a real belly laugh?
Once I went on the ventilator, I did not regain my ability to laugh, but I can manage one good HA! Still, there have been times when I felt like I did that HA for the people around me and not my own enjoyment, to let them know I can still think things are funny. Maybe it’s because my husband will occasionally inform me that what he just said was a joke, in response to my seeming non-response. Hey, I was laughing inside! When our son is home from college, he can tell some very entertaining stories about his classes and job. They delight me and I want to be an appreciative audience.
Humor has become more mental for me. My brain gets tickled by a situation and makes me smile. I don’t need to laugh, and I thank God for the ability to see humor in life. Humor lightens our hearts while we’re dealing with a difficult challenge. I was a comedic actress earlier in my life, and I loved making people laugh. It was a continual frustration that I could no longer vocally express the humor in my heart. Then I got my communication device in 1996 and was able to write down my thoughts, and by 2000 I had resumed doing art, this time on the computer. I can’t adequately put into words the peace of mind that came with these outlets.
Around 2012 I became aware of East Nashville’s annual Tomato Art Fest and the Tomato Art Show at the Art & Invention Gallery. I became a contributing artist, and my imagination has been having a great time ever since. With my theatrical background, tomatoes weren’t just subjects for a still life. They were little characters who could get into some funny situations! I don’t think my husband understood my fascination with this show. I’d ask him how he liked a picture I was working on. He’d say, “I like it… It’s a shame there’s a tomato in it.” HA! That tickled me, too.
Here are some of my silly pieces from the Tomato Art Show.
“The Missing Ingredient”
“To Mato or Not To Mato”
“The Old Man and the Tomato” with Spencer Tracy
For the sake of your inner happiness, I highly recommend finding out what tickles your funny bone and partaking of it often. None of us can wish ourselves out of this predicament, but we can make positive, loving memories while we’re in it. A light heart and peace of mind are beautiful ends in themselves, regardless of anyone’s circumstances… Peace, brothers and sisters!
Nashville artist and writer, Erin Brady Worsham, was diagnosed with ALS in 1994. Through the wonder of technology, she continues to work today as an artist and a writer.