Laughter, the Best Medicine

This past weekend we learned that one of our nearest and dearest is suffering from a hammer toe. I fully understand that dealing with that condition is no laughing matter but hearing about it reminded me of my worst ever case of giggles, one directly attributable to my mother’s hammer toe. But first a bit of background.

My father, Norman Busk, came from a totally dysfunctional home. There was no laughter in the household where he grew up on a farm outside Marvin, South Dakota. Then a miracle happened. Ten miles away, in Summit, he met the Anderson family, A.G. and Celia. Their house was full of laughter and singing. In other words, it was normal. At 18 years of age, he was totally gob smacked by normal. In fact, he was so all in that he married the third eldest Anderson girl, Evelyn, and their 68 year-long marriage was full of light-hearted humor, laughter, and practical jokes.

In the early nineties my mother was diagnosed with a hammer toe and went to see Doc Dregseth in Sierra Vista. Evie had a sense of humor, yes, but she didn’t take any nonsense, either. Dr. Dregseth took a look at her toe and estimated it would cost something between two to three-thousand dollars to fix it. “How much to take it off?” she asked. “$250.” “Okay then,” she said. “Take it off. I don’t need that toe anyway, but when you’re done with it, I want it.”

Did I mention that no one ever argued with Evie? That went for Dr. Dregseth along with everyone else. The hammer toe came off, and Evie took it home. My folks were living in Southern Arizona. She put the amputated toe out in the hot desert sun until it was good and properly jerked. Then she put it on a bed of cotton in an Altoids box and carried it in her purse. (Have I mentioned that my mother’s purse was a wonder and a marvel?}

Time passed. When our son married, the folks showed up. The wedding was held in our home, and the bride’s family came from eastern Washington fort the event. My father, a handsome silver-haired guy, was retired from the insurance business then, but he remained a practical joker. During the reception, he mingled with the guests, asking if they would like to see his “diamond clip.” Thinking it to be a retirement gift of some kind, they all said, “Yes.” At that point, he open a small box, to reveal a dime with a paper clip attached. The guests all laughed. It was a fun joke, but as soon as he moved on to his next set of victims, my mother would show up. “Would you like to see my hammer toe?”

So here was a sweet little old lady holding an Altoids box. This had to be a joke, too, right? Wrong! Some of the wedding guests left shortly thereafter and never darkened our doorstep again.

The next family wedding came along, this time at the Treasure Island Casino in Las Vegas. Most of the guests at that wedding had been to the previous one. The reception was scheduled for four PM. As the waitstaff began serving champagne, someone piped up with the hammer toe story. Within minutes, the whole room was alive an assortment of toe jokes. Some of them were totally appalling and hilarious, as everyone tried to make their toe joke top the previous one. By the time it was over, I was laughing as hard as I’ve ever laughed in my life. My parents weren’t at that Las Vegas wedding in person, but they were certainly there in spirit.

These days Norm and Evie’s enduring love and laughter continue to brighten my life and often my readers’ Friday mornings as well. So, let’s hear it for “diamond clips” and hammer toes, because laughter really is the best medicine.

41 thoughts on “Laughter, the Best Medicine

  1. Thank you again for LAUGHTER. It is the way I get thru the Days of this new Lifestyle. Your Hammer toe analogy came at a wonderful, needed time. I was a little Low and needed a boost while working on some ongoing Covig Issues and promises I made to others. YOUr Boost made my day. Chuck in Tacoma.

  2. What a happy way to start a Friday–laughing! Thanks! It really IS the best medicine. It reminds me of how I got through my statistics class at university. I absolutely didn’t “get” stats, so couldn’t ask intelligent questions or respond with sage answers, but as 5% of our mark was based on class participation, I would come up with a humourous quip now and then, and the class would laugh. I hoped that thus the professor would notice me as participating, and grant me the 5%. Although stats was my lowest mark for that degree, I did pass the course, so hopefully I was allowed the 5%.

  3. I laughed so hard! Years ago, I had gall bladder surgery. Told the doc to be sure to save the stones for me (turns out they look rather like chocolate covered raisins). I used them, and the staples from my incision, to make a paper weight. When I showed the doc, he told me he was “damn glad you didn’t have a hysterectomy!” The paper weight occupied a prominent place on my desk at work. My 2nd level manager often brought a visitor by to “see the most unique paper weight in the building.” I’m with Evie – have something to show for your challenges.

  4. I had no idea amputation was a treatment for hammer toe. Your post definitely was funny but it was gives me an alternate to complicated, expensive foot surgery! Thanks!

  5. Thank you for starting my Fridays with a chuckle. I love hearing your Evie and Norm stories. They are right up there with JP, Joanna and Ali’s. I do want to share with you that you have given “My Mother-In-Law’s First Born”, who has been in my life now for 47 years, and I something to discuss besides all his ailments. Due to early onset Diabetes he has quite a few issues to deal with one being his eyesight. I finally at the end of last summer got him talked into trying Audio Books. He has blown through all of your three series mentioned above. The man never read a book in all the years I have known him but he certainly is hooked now and I have you to thank for that.

    PS: I also want to thank you and your friends for mentioning Arnica Cream. I had a knee replaced in mid December and I am at the Physical Therapy part of this journey. I don’t think it is my imagination but I’ve been applying Arnica Cream and I believe it is helping soreness heal. Thank you again!

  6. Dr Dregseth was my doctor until he retired a number of years ago! He was a good doctor!

  7. Thanks for sharing the stories of your parents. I needed a good laugh this morning!
    My parents could make you laugh, too. My dad especially could knock out a joke in a split second. It carried on to my brother, myself, my niece and nephew. My nephew make a cute remark after a funeral when all the relatives had gather at our house for lunch. A cousin heard him and said, “Oh God, there’s 3 generations of them!” There was always laughter and love in our house.
    My dad had a kidney stone and was in agony. He was being taken to a room when a friend of ours who is also a doctor looked at him and said, “Kidney stone?” My dad affirmed and he was told that it was the closest he would know to having a baby. My dad quipped back, “Well, I must be having twins!” So yes, laughter is definitely the best medicine!
    Dottie Dantzler

  8. That was hilarious. It reminded me of my family
    We all have a weird sense of humor. Always finding something to laugh about even in the midst of hard times. That’s another pleasure o reading your books. All the tidbits of humor.

  9. Who has the diamond clip and hammer toe now?

    Enjoying Nothing to Lose and noticing your little sayings throughout and keeping track of them.

    Really enjoyed seeing you, your daughter, and Colt at Third Place Books the other day. Sorry to hear about Bill and his having health issues.

  10. I really think Evie was one of a kind- There could not have been room in the world for two of her! Your Dad hit the jackpot with the Anderson family- You have inherited the Anderson-Busk sense of fun and laughter too, which must be a blessing for Bill, as it is for your readers-
    As I have said a few times, I see a lot of Evie Busk in Edie Larson- God Bless Evie and Norman, who live on in, and between, the pages of Judy’s novels-

  11. Thank you for a really good laugh to start my Friday! I knew it was going to be an especially good share this week – you told us it was coming on Tuesday at Third Place Books. And it did not disappoint! By the way, it was a real treat to see and hear you in person after a long wait. And now I am back to Nothing to Lose. You’re right – laughter really is the best medicine.

  12. What a hoot! Oh my gosh, what a character your mom was! Yes, I’m curious too, to know if you inherited the diamond clip and the hammer toe.

  13. Let me be the first one to congratulate you on the release of “Nothing to Lose”. I finished it in 2 settings (sittings?). It was more real reading it while we were bundled up staying warm through a cold snap in Oklahoma. Didn’t go outside for 4 days. My former son in law was a bush plane builder and aircraft mechanic in Homer before moving to Lake Stevens,Washington. He had a bumper sticker: “Homer Alaska: a small drinking town with a fishing problem !”. Taking my daughter on a trip there he announced that he was looking for property to retire on there and it was only 260 miles to the nearest city. I thank that was the beginning of the end of that marriage.

  14. Just wanted to make sure you read the news story that the 10000 steps/day has no basis in fact! It was just started as an arbitrary number, and 7000 is really ok!

    • Yes, I’m well aware that 10,000 is a arbitrary number. The last person claimed 4000 was plenty. You’re saying seven. Here’s the thing. I DON’T CARE! 10,000 is right for me. That hour and a half of walk-in is when I’m not a caregiver and not a dog supervisor. It’s when I can just be me.

  15. needed this today. laughter . lost 2 family members on Tuesday and have been blue ever since.

    • Two! Oh Terri, my heart goes out to you. May you find some healing in remembering joyous times in the past with your family members. I just returned from a family funeral and the best part was remembering how much fun my cousin was and hearing other people’s stories about her.

  16. Reminds me of a picture my father carried in his wallet.. it was a picture of his Pride & Joy……a photo of a jar of Pride furniture wax & a bottle of Joy dish detergent. I suppose we’ll see a dehydrated toe in a future book!

    It was so good to see & listen to you the other night when you did the virtual Tattered Book zoom. Be ever so glad you were in your toasty home.. it was 7 degrees here in the Denver area. I would have missed an in-person presentation as I don’t drive in that kind of cold.

  17. I love your stories. Your dad sounds like a character and makes me wonder what he did in South Dakota and why he moved his family to Southern Arizona. It also reminds me everybody has a story and I love learning about them. Keep up the good work. I just finished your last Beaumont book NOTHING TO LOSE and I think you outdid yourself. I tried to stretch it out but I couldn’t seem to stop reading. You’re the best!

    • I have gone back into the blog archives and your questions about Norman Busk are answered in previous posts. I had a great time reading through many years of blogs, and truly appreciate Jance hard work and consistency in all those weekly posts!

      • Yes, Patricia, reading my years’ worth of blogs is like reading my autobiography in weekly installments.

    • In my father was a farmer in South Dakota. In 1948 he was bedridden for six months with rheumatoid arthritis. A doctor in Milbank prescribed a high, dry climate. Evie consulted an Arizona map in her tattered 7th grade geography book, pointed to Bisbee, and said, “That’s high and dry. We’re moving there.”

      Did I ever mention nobody argued with Evie?

  18. Marvelous!
    Brightened my day and world that has been cursed with over 2 months of subzero or blizzard conditions ?
    Thank you?

  19. Delightful story, I am laughing so hard. Also just reading Nothing to Lose, my library gives me dibs on your new books,btw. It is just as though you are speaking to the reader. What a wonderful gift!!! Thanks .

  20. Another HIT book! Finished it in the wee hours of the morning. Thanks for another great read,

  21. I, too, just finished reading Nothing to Lose!! I LOVED it!!! What a wonderful story! One of your best books, but I have enjoyed reading every book you have written!!
    In the late 1960s, I lived in Anchorage, so it was fun to recognize many of the places mentioned . We loved drinking at The Crow’s Nest at the top of the Captain Cook Hotel.
    So many thanks for writing another fabulous book! Can’t wait for your next Beau book …hopefully we will find out more about Naomi and Athena.

  22. Judy, I always love you stories about your folks. They never fail to make me laugh, but usually I want to cry, also. I am becoming more and more sentimental about stories of my parents and remembering so much about them because of your memories of your parents. I thank you profusely, for each and every memory!

    • I finished reading “Nothing to Lose.” Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down.
      Beau just keeps getting better and better. How in the world do you put all of the action together? That chase to the airport actually stressed me. I like all of the little vignettes you use. I still remember Joanna Brady’s mother with the Tupperware story. Which book was that in?
      When will we get the next J.P. Beaumont book? Beau isn’t getting any younger.
      Keep writing. You are the best.

  23. I can’t stop laughing. Thank you for sharing your delightful parents and family stories. Your Mother was a “pistol” as my Mother (who was one too) would say. My Mom’s name was Evelyn but was called Evvie or “Sis” by the her family and no one argued with her either 🙂

  24. I just finished reading Nothing to Lose. I’ve read all your books and love them. I wish I didn’t read them so fast. Now I’m waiting anxiously for a new Joanna Brady book. Keep on writing.

Comments are closed.