I wrote this story about ten years ago and every word of it is true.
First off, you should know that my family consisted of two much, much older brothers (Jon and Lynn), Mother and Papa.
It took place when I was very sick( I was around 5 or 6 years old at the time). Mother asked if I wanted her to read me a story. I was in a very grumpy mood, so I said ‘No!’. Not fazed in the least, she said, “How about Winnie the Pooh? You like him, don’t you?”
Now, to tell the truth, at that point I had no idea who or what Winnie the Pooh was, but I was not about to let her win so easily (and besides, I was grumpy), so I said “Winnie the Pooh! I hate him.” Mother very wisely ignored my protests (I was feverish at the time) and settled down on the couch, with my head in her lap. She then proceeded to open the book and read.
Now, the story she chose was one where Winnie the Pooh decides to try and steal some honey from the bees in an old, hollow tree. Of, course, all sorts of things went wrong.
However, there were some things going on right in my own living room! For one thing, Papa was sitting across from us in his reading chair, where he had his nose buried in a newspaper. This was not an unusual occurrence, he read the paper almost every night. But this night, his hands were doing strange things. As I watched, Papa’s hands were slowly inching up the sides of the paper, just like Winnie the Pooh’s paws, climbing up the side of the tree.
I began to giggle. Mother looked up and saw Papa. “Raymond” She admonished in a voice that brooked no nonsense. Papa flipped the paper down and looked at Mother in astonishment. He pointed to himself (a ‘who me?’ gesture), with his eye open wide in innocence. He shook his head and went back to reading the paper. Mother went back to reading the story.
But Mother was at the part of the story where Winnie was climbing the tree, and Papa simply could not contain himself. Again, his hands started climbing up the sides of the paper.
And I giggled again and Mother looked over her glasses at Papa, who silently protested his innocence again. And so the story proceeded. Papa would act out the story, and Mother would try to catch him at it, and he would always look very innocent. Of course, it didn’t help that Mother had started laughing too and sometimes was laughing so hard she could not read the words on the page. But Papa still managed to keep a straight face, which sent Mother and myself more deeply into laughter.
Now, when Mother laughed, her tummy shook, which in turn made my head bounce. I was already laughing so hard I could barely breathe, and Mother’s tummy-shaking finally pushed me off the couch, which made all of us laugh all the harder.
Then my brother Jon, who was an older teenager at the time, happened to hear the laughter and wondered what was going on. So he walked into the Living room and realized Mother was reading a children’s story. Well, he was much too old and sophisticated for that, so he decided to get a book instead. He pretended to ignore us, but pretty soon, he too was engulfed with laughter as Papa pulled more of his tricks on Mother, who by now was laughing so hard she couldn’t talk, much less read. And her tummy bounced when she laughed, so that bounced me right off the couch again and I was laughing so hard I couldn’t catch my breath.
Well right about this time, the oldest brother, Lynn, happened to hear all the commotion and he, too, wondered what was going on, so he sauntered into the living room. And there we were. Mother was gasping for breath between her laughter, Jon was howling with laughter on the other side of the room, I was a giggle pile on the floor and Papa was trying to explain, using no words, that he was completely innocent and could not figure out what our problem was.
Lynn, being Lynn, began to laugh. Now you have to understand that when Lynn laughs, everyone else always joins in. We couldn’t help it, his laugh was infectious. So as Lynn laughed, Mother laughed harder, Jon was rolling on the floor, I was laughing and Papa was sitting there looking very smug indeed. I do not think Lynn had any idea what we were all laughing at, he just thought we were all very funny.
I don’t remember the rest of the story. I don’t remember how the laughter ended or who left first. But I remember the laughter.
And that is my very favorite memory of my family.