Our Stories: It’s The Laughter We Will Remember

Staff Written Community

By Lydia Bell Norburg

I am a hugger. So you know this whole pandemic shutdown ordeal has not been easy for me. Especially when it has meant being away from my favorite fellow-hug enthusiasts, my five grandchildren. Well, it may be a stretch to say that the oldest two (who are in that stand-offish no-PDA preteen phase) have actually missed GiGi’s hugs. Even so, four months is too long to go between hugs for anybody, even preteens. And won’t they be excited when GiGi arrives to make up for her hug deficit? 

I also thrive on being in control. No, really, I’m serious…being in charge is like my love language. Don’t believe me? Just ask my husband or children or siblings or mother.  I was born bossy. Hey, my late father even left three-year-old me in charge of my one-year-old sister once when he was supposed to be watching us play outside. He had a meeting to go to and he knew I was perfectly capable of keeping her out of traffic and steering her back inside to Mama. Well, guess what? I grew up and chose a career where I could be in charge, first of a classroom full of students as a French teacher and finally of a whole school as principal. Once when my husband informed the grands that I had retired and wasn’t a principal any more, six-year-old Andrue said “Well GiGi’s still be in charge…she’s principal of the whole earth!” Tickled by his confidence in me, but so very thankful I’m not actually in charge of the world during this pandemic. Missing my sense of control nonetheless. 

So suffice it to say that the no hugs/no control combo has me a joy to be around of late. So much so that even I got to the point of not wanting to be around me. The only thing I could think of to alleviate this conundrum was to dress up as somebody else. Thus started my three-week stint as GiGi, the story time lady. I donned every disguise I could find and videotaped myself reading some of my favorite children’s books. I uploaded them to Facebook for my grands and children far and wide to enjoy. I’ll even confess that once or twice I have watched them myself to calm my pandemic news nerves at bedtime. You know, to stave off another toilet paper shortage nightmare. 

Laughter has been my go-to coping mechanism during these restrictive,  uncertain days. It has come in many forms. Re-reading funny memories on my “GiGi’s Grand Adventures” blog. Frequent conference calls with my quick-witted hilarious siblings. FaceTiming with my children and grands. Watching funny videos on social media ad nauseum. My philosophy has been either laugh or cry. And there are so many stories of loss and hardship caused by this pandemic that move us to tears. My hope is that this pandemic will soon be history. And that when it is, our most vivid memories of these times will be the joyful moments we embraced in spite of the pervasive sadness. Cue Barbra Streisand. 

“So it’s the laughter

We will remember

Whenever we remember

The way we were.”

Lydia Bell Norburg is a native of Morgan County. She is married to Terry, a fellow retired educator, and enjoys writing, painting, and creating fun for the five remarkable humans who call her GiGi

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