I'm told Uncle Laughter used to put tiny shells in Aunt Artful's shoes just for fun. He possessed a child-like quality of playfulness which touched every one's heart. I can picture him sneaking to her shoe just before a walk, placing in the shimmering object with great stealth, calling her to the door, and responding with great chuckles as she slips on the footwear announcing, "There's something in here. Just a minute..."
When I visited Aunt Artful this summer, of course we reminisced some of the time about sweet Uncle Laughter. She showed me the memorial video of pictures from his abundant life. He quite literally made friends everywhere he went with his easy manner of being. Buck used to joke with Uncle Laughter that even made friends at the automatic teller.
Over my visit with Aunt Artful, I came to understand better the love between my aunt and uncle. My aunt has always used the phrase, "He worshiped you" and "He worshiped me," and I'll admit, I didn't quite comprehend it. However, this stay with her I caught a glimpse of these phrases. In his boyhood pictures and really all pictures since I noticed a glimmer in his eye that spoke, "I am deeply loved and adored." Aunt Artful attributed that joyful expression to his wonderful mother. She gently spoke about his mother in a reverent manner which she would not have done if it were not so. When Aunt Artful started dating Uncle Laughter, his family's great love spilled over right onto her. His mother bought her a beautiful marble topped desk to study for school, took her places she needed to go, invited her over all while Uncle Artful was in the navy and before they were married.
Aunt Artful told the tale of how she met her husband. She was on a double date with someone when they ran into another group of friends unfamiliar to her. Uncle Laughter was in that bunch, and asked if anyone wanted to play basketball. Aunt Artful's date refused, but she didn't. I can picture Uncle Laughter playfully digging for the ball as Aunt Artful dribbled with the carefree vigor of youth. She said he was just so much fun. They simply laughed and laughed. Fun must have been hard to resist. Their marriage spanned several decades.
I asked later how she became an artist after all, since that wasn't something available to her being from our impoverished family. She pensively answered, "Uncle Laughter truly believed there was nothing I couldn't do. He thought I hung the moon. He believed whatever I did as perfect and made me believe in myself, so I started art school." Acceptance and adoration must have been infectious. You should see the paintings and other my aunt has produced and collected.
Anyhow, I can't even begin to imagine what my aunt's life is like now that he is gone home to be with God. Somehow I like to think he's with us in a different way than simply absent. Aunt Artful must feel the same, because she brought out an alabaster box from her bathroom vanity to show me on my recent visit. When she opened it to reveal the contents, I was taken aback- for there was a tiny pearled shell within. "I didn't put it in there. I think it's his way of saying, 'I'm still with you,'" Aunt Artful explained.
Later that afternoon, I snuggled into a comfy couch to read a book, I reached over to examine a colorful bowl from the Dali museum I'd given for Aunt Artful and Uncle Laughter a few years back on a previous visit. Immediately tears sprang to my eyes. What do you suppose I found inside that piece of art? A tiny shell letting me know Uncle Laughter was also thinking of me.
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