Who is Lovely Lynette and why is she laughing? You might be wondering if I played one of those Facebook games where the first initial of my second child’s name and the fourth initial of my first pet’s middle name are assigned to random names whose combination creates my exotic dancer name. Why yes. That’s exactly what happened. No. No it is not. Actually, Lovely Lynette has a very sentimental meaning for me. When I was very young, an extraordinary woman, about whom I actually know very little, insisted on referring to me as Lovely Lynette. Arguing with her over this name was apparently useless because she was wholeheartedly convinced that my name should be Lovely Lynette. This woman was my paternal grandmother. At 29 years of age, just a few months after delivering her third child, doctors found a large cancerous mass requiring them to surgically remove her entire reproductive system. She was lucky to be alive. Today, there are supplements to help women endure the sudden drop in hormones from such a surgery. When Grandma was 29, however, the only estrogen available was made using horse urine. She was deathly allergic to serums made from horses. Her system just could not handle the lack of hormones, and so her mind was transported into a different world where reality was way more changing for her than for those around her. Grandpa was given the choice to abandon her in an asylum, but being the genuine man that he was he refused, stating to the disbelieving doctors that he loved her when she was well and he’d love her while she was ill, until death separated them. Are you wiping tears yet? How Lovely Lynette can laugh through this story is something you are probably asking. Well, I enjoy alliteration a lot, and the stories produced from her alternate realities are actually quite comical. We discuss them from time to time and chuckle even though there exists a deep sadness over this awful knowledge that her mind was stolen, not only from her but from her husband, children and future grandchildren. It’s tragic and unfair. A family is left with few choices. Do we laugh when we hear that she has been elected first woman president of the United States and has thoroughly confused the entire nursing home population, or do we cry and dwell in sadness? Should we giggle when she tells us that my father, a minister and educator, traveled to Paris and painted every picture in the hospital and that he sold the paintings to buy her the outrageously expensive set of faux pearls she is wearing? She had high hopes for her children in the arts, apparently. Bless her beautiful heart. Do we hide away the knowledge of the craziness that can occur when illness of any kind attacks, or do we acknowledge it and realize that life is a precious thing never to be wasted?
Grandma is gone from us now, in body as well as in mind. I remember the day she died. I was a brand new second lieutenant stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I was in the field with my new unit when I was told the news. I remember the tears welling up from my heart and spilling over my cheeks as the poor gruff major tried to tell me. I didn’t know her well because her soul had been hidden from us behind this facade of an unwell body, but I loved her dearly. My memories of her are brief and fleeting, but precious. I remember her sweet smile. I remember her kind voice. I remember that she loved frosties from Wendy’s…that she used her lipstick as her rouge….that she could eat an entire jar of olives by herself, a trait my own daughter has inherited….that after having her weekly hair appointment, her head would not hit the pillow for days lest she ruin her carefully curled coiffure. She would carefully rest on her elbow instead, with her head on her hand like a lounging Egyptian queen. These are a few of my cherished memories….these and knowing that in her world, I was a special child because she named me Lovely Lynette. I laugh now because she is laughing in a plane of existence where reality is more real than anything we know here. There, where she now lives, every corner of her mind is filled with clarity and joy. She has been freed. I wonder if she knows that I’ve decided to embrace the name she used for me, and laugh. Has God given her a glimpse of me, just one of her many grandchildren, and let her see that I intend to use laughter as medicine for my own turbulent emotions….that rather than be defeated by my own struggle with that darkness called depression, I am laughing. Grandma, you have inspired me to begin a blog titled in your honor. Because of you, Lovely Lynette Laughs, and I aspire to bring laughter to others.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh” (Luke 6:21)