By Alyssa Bormes
It was 10:30ish at night, and my phone rang.
I answered, “Hi Mom.”
In her very distinctive low voice she said, “Well, happy birthday! I almost forgot.”
A little stunned and with a little laugh, “It’s not my birthday.”
Thinking me crazy, “Yes, it is!”
Now giggling, “No, it isn’t.”
In her complete “mom” voice, “Well of course it is; I was there; I ought to know.”
“Mom, it’s not my birthday.”
“It is too. Today’s the 31st.”
Now I could hardly contain myself, “Mom, my birthday is the 31st of August.”
“Well, I know that. That’s why I’m calling.” Now she was giggling – probably because I had forgotten my own birthday.
Full of laughter now, “Mom, I promise you it’s not my birthday.”
“Your birthday is August 31st!”
“I know, but it’s not August.”
“Yes, it is.”
“No, it isn’t.”
We were hysterically laughing by now, and she said, “It is too, I’m looking at my calendar right now.”
“Mom, you have to be looking at the wrong month!”
“No, I’m not. I just turned the page.”
I was crying with laughter. “Mom, you have to be on the wrong page.”
She said, “No, I’m not,” but I could hear pages turning.
Then she started laughing even harder – so much so that I could hardly understand her. Eventually, I understood that in her week-by-week calendar the last few days of July were on the page with the 1st of August – and the top of the page is was labeled “August.” She had just been writing things in July, but when she turned the page seeing both August and the 31st, my birthday immediately jumped to her mind.
Finally, as our laughter subsided, she said, “Oh, well then I’m early.”
Somehow – this just started the laughter again.
All sorts of holy men and women have advice on laughter – here are a few:
“Serve the Lord with laughter.” Padre Pio
“Try to laugh a lot, because life is funny, and everybody today is too serious. The only tragedy in the world, my friend, is sin.” Mother Angelica
“It is requisite for the human mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.” St. Thomas Aquinas
“Where joylessness reigns, where humor dies, the spirit of Jesus Christ is assuredly absent.” Pope Benedict XVI
And – one more – from St. Ignatius of Loyola on his feast day: “Laugh and grow strong.”
The crazy phone call with my mom was one of my favorite birthday greetings ever. My absentmindedness seems to have been a gift from her. And – you know what else she gave me? Her laugh. She didn’t just give me her laugh that night at 10:30ish, but she gave me her laugh for my whole life. And it is a great gift.
About the author:
Alyssa Bormes is an educator, author, speaker, and retreat leader. She currently teaches at the Chesterton Academy in Edina, Minnesota, writes for the Catholic Spirit, and the W.I.N.E blog, is the host of a weekly show,“Christian Witnesses in the Church,” on Radio Maria US, and is the author of The Catechism of Hockey. You can find her at alyssabormes.com.