The Last Laugh
The sentiment evoked a range of emotions in me at the time. It made me feel elated that I did something right. Then it made me feel bad for my brother and sisters. Finally, I felt horribly guilty for opening it.
I taped it open inside my jewelry box so I'd see it a lot and as I went to grab my pearls, my last item to pack for the trip to Minneapolis, where he lay dying, I glanced at it, and at that moment was selfishly grateful that Dad and I shared this secret.
Ann and I went straight to the hospital from the airport. As we approached Dad's room, the sound of laughter got louder. When we walked in, Mom was sitting in the chair next to Dad, and my brother and two sisters and sister-in-law were all sitting in a row on the extra bed in his room. Tears streamed down everyone's faces as they laughed.
Dad couldn't speak, but he could hear everything. His stomach was bouncing up and down, as he was laughing, too.
"What did we miss?" Ann asked the group desperately. "I hate when I miss any laughing."
"The meat! The gas station meat!" my brother said, choking through what I like to think of as dielarity.
Dielarity: /di-lair-it-ee/n: The dark humor created in the environment of or at the expense of someone dying.