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2012-09-06 digital edition

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2012-09-06 / Church

THEY SAID IT

(Life Lessons from Hospice Patients)

Where’s Our Bad Joke?

I teach Bible studies at assisted living facilities and nursing homes. I begin by telling extremely bad jokes, to which residents respond with groans and eye-rolls. I particularly enjoy one facility, mainly due to Sandy, Marsha, and Stevie, whom I’ve affectionately dubbed The Three Musketeers.

The Three Musketeers are always ready when I arrive, their wheelchairs strategically placed so I have to pass them on the way in. I pretend not to see them. They stick up their noses and begin clearing their throats. They move their wheelchairs to block the way. If that doesn’t work, they try to trip me.

Then Marsha, in her best Gandalf-type voice, will say, “You shall not pass! Where’s our bad joke?”

With a look of disdain, I ask (with all seriousness), “What do you call a cow with only one leg?”

“What?” they say in unison.

“A steak,” I answer.

Groans. Eye-rolls. (Get it? A “stake?”)

“What do you call a cow with no legs?” I ask.

“What?” they respond with eager smiles.

“Ground beef.”

Louder groans. Wider eye-rolls.

And on it goes. Soon the entire group is laughing hysterically, whether they know what’s going on or not. (They tell me the nurses gather around the corner to listen in).

Research shows laughter strengthens the immune system, boosts energy, and diminishes pain. Priceless medicine.

On my way out, I pass through the gauntlet of wheelchairs again.

“You know what?” I ask.

“What?” reply the Musketeers.

“I’m thinking of changing your title. How does The Three Stooges sound?”

Groans. Eye-rolls.

Gary Roe is the Chaplain of Southern Care Hospice and is Minister at First Baptist Church in Lexington

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