I had just knocked on Mrs. Mary Rosewood’s door when I heard her laughter in the rain. The doors to the garden opened right next to her little apartment and the sound of laughter had come from there.
She was just entering the building, waving a cheerful goodbye to someone from under her orange umbrella. “Ah, I made it just in time it seems!” she smiled and walked in, leaning on her 1)cane. I had her lunch in my 2)trolley and waited for her to open the door.
“There you go,” she said and opened the door. “You may put the food on the kitchen table. I’ll warm it up in the microwave shortly.”
I took her meal and carried it indoors. The route to her small kitchen took me through her living room. As before, I couldn’t help glancing at the pictures on her living room walls. Other people living in this old people’s home had traditional landscape paintings or religious pictures on their walls. But not Mrs. Rosewood. Her walls were filled with pictures of comedians: 3)Jim Carrey, 4)Leslie Nielsen, 5)Steve Martin, 6)Goldie Hawn.
“You are looking at my pictures, I see,” Mrs. Rosewood’s cheerful voice came from behind my shoulder.
“Well, yes... Can I ask you why you have them there? ”
“Isn’t it obvious? I like to laugh! Look here!” The old lady opened the cupboard next to her television. I saw films, dozens of them. All comedies.
“Now that is a bit unexpected,” I said, “It’s a hobby of yours? Comedies, I mean.”
“Not a hobby but a way of life, young man!” she smiled. I did not know what to say. She turned to push the window open and laughed. Again I head her laughter in the rain.
“I had very serious parents,” she said, “very 7)religious. I was taught ever since I was a child that life was 8)dire business and useless laughter took you nowhere. Nowhere good that is. Unfortunately for them, I didn’t believe it,” she laughed. “When I was a teenager I became acquainted with a neighbor of ours. She used to be a 9)nun. I asked why she was nun no more and she said it was too gloomy. I talked with her, and she knew what my parents thought about laughter and being happy. And one day she started talking about laughter. ‘Mary, tell me, how do you feel when you laugh?’ I told her I felt happy. ‘How do you feel when you know you are totally loved.’ I wondered how she could know I 10)was up to my ears in love with someone. But I answered her that I felt happy. ‘Well tell me then, if someone were total love, totally made of love, how would he feel?’ ‘Happy, of course.’ ‘What do happy people do?’ ‘They laugh.’ ‘Why then would laughter be bad?’”
Now here was a question I had not thought about before. Mrs. Rosewood turned into her kitchen and left me standing there. I waited for a short while and then had to ask. “What did she mean by that?”
Again I heard her laughter. In the rain, a 11)blackbird was singing beautifully. “I thought you’d never ask!” She appeared back into the living room, “So I’ll tell you what she said. Dwelling in negative thinking and complaining about things are just ways to tell that you don’t trust life can be good. So think about it in such a way that you may search for happiness and laughter purposefully. ”
“Well that sound quite nice,” I said.
“Yes indeed,” she smiled, “and that is when I started to find laughter on purpose. I bought funny books. I went to see funny movies. I wrote down the best jokes I found. And this week... Oh this is so much fun... I found out there is such a thing as laughter yoga! I’m going to try it next week! ”
“Yoga at your age... ” I 12)started.
“Oh it is just laughter. Laughing on purpose, no one needs to bend themselves into a knot,” Mrs. Rosewood laughed. “And time has taught me I took the right road. I met my husband at a movie theater when I went to see a Goldie Hawn movie! Not to mention other friends I met through laughter.” She bent towards me. “You see I am following the advice of the neighbor... I inherited that 13)cross stitch picture from her. ”
I looked at the picture above her TV. “The Purpose of Life Is Joy,” it said.
Later Mrs. Rosewood gave it to me before she died and said: “Look at this and remember it. Always try to be the sound of laughter in the rain. Life is so hard for so many people; it is like an eternally continuing rainy day. They are not happy. So you be happy, show them the way. Be the laughter in the rain for them. Be as happy as you can—only then can you spread happiness to others.”
Even though twenty years have passed since that rainy day, I’ll always remember Mrs. Rosewood. We became good friends, and she often invited me to watch funny movies with her. When Mrs. Rosewood died, she donated all her money to a local theater with the instruction the money was to be used to produce one comedy play per year. Guess what the first play was called? Laughter in the Rain.
To me she gave all her funny movies and pictures of her “funny people”. I still have them hanging on my study walls; all faded with time of course, but just as valuable as ever. Their smiles haven’t faded at all. And when I look at the cross stitch message “The Purpose of Life Is Joy”, I always remember the first time I heard her laughter in the rain. And to honor her life’s work of bringing joy to the people around her, I try to be the sound of laughter in the rain to others as well.