On Ontario Road, we sit down to a homemade lunch. We’re out on your covered patio, and the stone statue of Christ occupies a corner. From your salad you pick out a leaf, place it on the head of Christ, and say, “Lettuce pray!” You laugh exaggeratedly, both at your joke and at how bad it is.
Try as I might, I can’t pin down the first time you made me laugh, only an early instance. We don't need the history anyway, just the feeling: later to be familiar, now too distant.
You loved bad jokes. Yours, others, and yourself for others. Thus, you spread the word to everyone about Mary in a Christmas card, both swearing at and asking if Christ was born in a barn. You thought Patty O'Furniture was the best drag queen name. Years later you would be on the evening news, interviewed after some charity walk—was it for St. Francis? Was the statue, for that matter, actually of St. Francis?—all the while with a leaf in your hair.
I guess Easter weekend moves around on the calendar. Otherwise I’m not sure how this anniversary can now fall on a holy day. I would check how the dates aligned two years ago, but who wants to look back? I can only imagine what bad, even sacrilegious joke you would today conjure about today. Meanwhile, you sent me care packages each April, cheap candy and chicks that could have featured in the competitive dioramas that made us both laugh, though even those eventually went away, while all year long you called me bunny.
So on this day, I compel myself to rehearse your jokes, for others if not for me, and all the jokes you might have told. To think and tell of happy things.