Momentarily Happy


A few years ago a thought ran through my head…what is it that makes me completely happy? So completely happy that I measure all other “types” of happiness by it.   I’m not talking big picture happy like a good job, a nice home, a great hair color happy.  Momentarily happy.  That moment where nothing else matters and all you feel is pure joy…like the first time your baby says “mama” or that split second a butterfly lands on your foot as you sit in the park. (At the exact moment I wrote this, while sitting on a blanket at the park a big beautiful yellow and black butterfly sailed past me…I swear. THAT  kinda happy is what I’m talking about!) For some it’s that moment they realize it’s Saturday or that there IS ice cream in the freezer.  Everyone has it.  The accidental happiness where you have no control…you cannot create it.  It has to just happen.  For me, sometimes it’s seeing a hummingbird hover amazingly close to my face or when one of my boys leans into me just to be close.  It’s that 20 seconds my oldest takes to fog up the glass during his hockey game with his breath and draws a heart in it while looking at me.  (Yes, he got a penalty, but not in this mama’s eyes.)  Or when the evening is the perfect temperature of, say, 70 degrees, a breeze blows through my hair causing it to flutter across my face so I turn and face the sun, feeling the warmth spread over my skin.

Passing contentment.

Fleeting bliss.

A blink of perfection.

These moments are not under our control. They just happen.  Like a sneeze,  you cannot make them come about, they just do.  Sometimes when they aren’t even expected.  Now imagine this….what if you could make this little bit of happiness appear? What if you did have control? What would it be? Gliding through the air on a swing with super long chains making your tummy jump into your throat? A bite of DiCicco’s penne pasta covered pink sauce? A bareback ride on the beach of Mexico?  A drunkin night singing karaoke with some strangers on a trip to the other side of the world? Or how about a fast drive in the country with the radio up and the windows down?

So that thought I had, the one a few years ago where I asked myself what makes me happy…I guess I would call it “controllable momentary happiness”.  What could I do to give me this twinkle of joy?

For me, it was when I made my dad laugh.  And I mean laugh. Laugh til he cried kinda laugh.  I could do this.  I could control this.  I was good at this.

Now a daughter making her dad laugh is not that impressive.  I know this.  I often “laugh” when my kids try to get me to.  All parents do this to appease their little ones. I’m sure my dad did this 72% of the time…but that other 28% it was genuine momentarily happiness for him…the kind HE couldn’t control.

But I could.

That’s what made me happiest.

We used to joke that we should have our own show.  We could take it on the road and tour until we were rich beyond our wildest dreams.  Obviously we were pretty darn funny to even think this was possible.

Dad was my best audience.  He got my humor, my sarcasm, my timing.  Not everyone does.  I’m too much for some.  By too much, I mean too offensive.  Too harsh.  Too politically incorrect. And obviously, too funny.

My dad had a lot of back problems. He was in pain most of his last 10 years.  For this, he took a variety of pain medications.  The tiny Ziploc baggie he carried in his shirt pocket looked like a bag of Skittles. Taste the Rainbow…. Surgeries and procedures controlled most of his life.  He would always call me on his way home from the doctor’s office, a little loopy from the meds. He would try to hold a conversation with me for some reason.  He rarely had memory of any of these chats.  I called him “Rush”…as in Rush Limbaugh.  Republican, conservative, outspoken and doped up.  He pretended to be offended.

So, one evening, a few hours after the “Rush talk”, Dad gave me a ring.  He had no recollection of our earlier phone call and proceeded to fill me in with the details.  (Sign #1 the guy was getting old up there. Sign #2 was the ultra yanked up pants.) And yes, he was in a lot of pain.  But only when he moved.  To avoid the pain he had planted himself in the recliner with the phone and the remote.  I’m pretty sure he was watching American Idol as we spoke.  I can’t even tell you what the conversation was about.  We could have been discussing who had taken a song and “made it their own”.  It could have been about one of my boys or, very likely, one of our crazy family members (We were the only normal ones. Fact.  It was also fact that we agreed on this.) Whatever the subject, we were being funny. By we I mean me.  He would laugh at something I said, then cringe (I could hear it in his voice) at the pain of his body moving in the slightest way.  A few minutes in he told me that it hurt to chuckle.  I tried, really, to tone it down.  But hey, what can I say? I’m hilarious.  Pretty soon he was laughing that laugh you laugh when you shouldn’t be laughing… making it harder to not laugh.

I’m terrible.

I am.

I was doing it on purpose.

His uncontrollable giggles filled me with that “controllable momentarily happiness”.

I had him in tears.

As I type this, he has me in tears.  I miss him.  I miss these moments more than I think I would miss my left arm if it ever got chopped off.

Finally, after a couple of minutes that I’m sure were bittersweet torture, he begged me to stop.  But, I don’t know…I just couldn’t! I heard him giggle like a school girl then suck in air, in total pain as he hung up on me.

He was dying of laugher.  It’s one of my proudest moments.


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