The Joke That Healed

Sometimes, in life, there are people who stay only a little while but their actions touch our hearts forever.

When my Dad was living the last painful months with a rare form of liver cancer, I asked my Kid’s Church class to pray for him.

A little boy in the class, named Alex, asked if my Dad liked jokes.  I told him that he did, very much.  Alex asked if my Dad lived with me and my husband. I told him that he did.

Several days later, an envelope, addressed to my Dad in a childish scrawl, arrived in our mail box.  Inside, a carefully printed  joke, (signed) “love, Alex”.  

Every week for the next several months, a new envelope would arrive with another joke carefully printed on notebook paper tucked inside.  My Dad watched  for those envelopes, every day asking, “Has my joke come yet?”  

As Dad grew steadily weaker and began to be in more and more pain, he still looked for his weekly joke to arrive. He kept all the envelopes in a little pile beside his bed and every day, he would read each one—and laugh again.The pile of jokes grew till they had to be put in a shoebox because there were so many of them.

When Daddy was, at last, too weak to open the white envelopes by himself, I opened them for him and read the joke to him. His favorites were “the chicken crossed the road” jokes! The evening before he died, Dad told me to thank Alex for all the wonderful jokes, especially the chicken ones.

Several months after the funeral, when all the busyness that death brings was over with; the emotional pain of loss would wash over me in waves. But, no tears would come to wash the pain away.  I ached from the inside out.

One day, I found a simple white envelope in the mail box. This time,the childish handwriting was addressed to me.  Inside was the familiar piece of notebook paper with one of my Dad’s favorite jokes.

“Why did the chicken cross the road?  Because it wanted to be on the other side”. (signed) “The End.  Love, Alex”.  The tears flowed like drops of healing rain and– I –at last –began– to laugh again.

Psalms 147:3  He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

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