Funny families are the best medicine

Karen Wils photo Shown in this family photo are, lower, from left to right, Sherri Verbrigghe and Mike Rose, and upper, from left to right, Dave Rose and Dan Stasewich.

ESCANABA — Life in our modern world can be trying at times: power outages, sick pets, bad drivers, and even the evening news.

It’s then the old adage about laughter being the best medicine rings most true. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed to have people around me through the years to help me laugh.

As a small child, my dad would tell homemade bedtime stories about an outrageous family pooch (Cuckoo-Nut Dog) who was always getting into misadventures. His silly tales would make us giggle and eventually calm down until we were off to dreamland.

My mother was a serious-minded and independent type, but somehow she acquired a treasure trove of bizarre old sayings that would always delight us. A funny turn of the phrase or mildly off-color comment was especially funny coming from the lady we sometimes jokingly called the Pope of Northtown.

My big brother Jim, the eldest, was always a bit of a non-conformist and would sometimes do things to get a rise out of someone. Much to his wife’s chagrin, on his wedding day he wore wildly multicolored socks with his lily white tux so when they knelt by the altar the congregation would have a free chuckle.

Brother Mark in high school thought he was “entertaining” by parking his old beater pickup on the lawn. I’d groan when the poor principal would get on the PA and ask the young man with the tan Ford truck to please remove it from the grass.

Mark also has a thing about encouraging little ones to do “no-no’s.” He would spend hours trying to get the neighbor’s young son Ben to repeat potty words, among other things.

My little brother Mike was a gifted mimic and as a teenager used to recite Monty Python skits by heart. (My mom hated British humor).

Dave had a devil-may-care look and many witty sayings up his sleeve while Lori, the youngest, still likes to draw silly cartoons and leave them in strategic locations for me. Lori also likes funny accents and used to read library books to me back in our beachcombing days.

Many of my relatives, far too many to mention here, have said or done things over the years that still keep us laughing. It’s neat when some of these old tales get passed on to my kids, the next generation.

For example, Aunt Sandy recalls at her nuptials when her dear new husband Joe referred to her as his “awful wedded wife.”

Or the time Joe and his younger brother Denny came up with a new super-quick way of cleaning smelt – involving her wringer washer…

Or the time someone dropped all her favorite ice fishing lures in the bay and later pulled up a string of goopy and useless utensils.

My uncle Bob (Stasewich) worked hard on the railroad for years, but spent much of his time hunting and fishing just as hard. One time he and a buddy (Spud Grenier), two full-grown men, had some issues while fishing, and it was later misreported in the local media that “two youths” required assistance.

Bob wasn’t much of a handyman and one time donned waders to work on electrical problems in the home.

His son Bob Jr. inherited his quirky style and love of a well-told joke or old-fashioned yarn.

My son Robert, so named in honor of my uncle, is teased yet today for bringing two left-footed boots to hunting camp a few years back. My daughter Ellen is good at pointing out puns and offbeat phraseologies.

No matter what kind of humor your family likes to share, it’s good to get together and have a laugh now and then. The scientists say that digital silliness is OK, but nothing substitutes for sharing good times face to face.

So put away the Vitamin C and honey drops. The best remedy is just a joke away.


Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong north Escanaba resident. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.