Terry Marotta: You might as well laugh

Terry Marotta

Whenever I get worked up about aging, I think of my sister Nan, who sees comic possibilities in every stage in life. 

One example: She finds it hilarious that in her 50s she was looked upon as a “trophy wife” by the buddies of her older-by-a decade husband, Chuck, who she married a decade ago, ending a period of widowhood for them both.

Another: She has a sign in her kitchen: “Next Mood Swing: Six Minutes.”

She’s pretty tart, Nan is.

She’s also sharper than a roomful of Mensa members, with a vocabulary to match.

A few years back she had that famous “look-around” procedure we’re all supposed to have after 50, and when it ended up perforating her colon, she quizzed the doctors gathered around her bed with the exact anatomical terms. (My favorite part of that incident came a month later when, at the doctor’s for the follow-up visit, she seized the chance when he stepped out of the room, spun the chart around and read his notes on the whole procedure. “Stronger than appears,” he had written.)

She sure is strong, and I think part of that strength comes from not caring much what people think of her.

Take the T-shirts I saw on her during my recent visit.

One says on it, “The Liver is Evil and Must be Punished.”

The other I looked at for three whole hours before I “got” the joke of it. It was a pun on the first line of the opening tune “Aquarius,” from the musical Hair. “This is the Dawning of the Age of a Scary Ass,” it said.

She just laughs at aging.

Once when I was visiting her in Florida, she was recalling the time, mere weeks before their wedding, when she addressed Chuck where he was sitting watching TV some 20 feet away.

“Are you done in the bathroom?” she called from the kitchen, her arms full of towels for the wash.

“There’s a 70 percent chance,” he called back.

“Uhhh, when do you think you’ll be done in the john?” she tried again.   

“Tomorrow - late afternoon!” came the pleasant answer.

“This guy either needs a diaper or a hearing aid,” she thought to herself – and said under her breath, “It’s gonna be a lo-o-o-o-o-n-g 20 years!”

As luck would have it, Chuck heard that part.  

I remember him agonizing when their little cat contracted an illness that caused it to walk crookedly and fall down often. It recovered though and soon all that remained of the malady was a slight cock of the head, giving it a sweet inquisitive look that makes Chuck melt with sympathy ever time it walks in the room.

Nan just calls it “Two O’clock.” “Hey, Two!” she’ll jauntily say. “Come sit on the couch with us!”     

“Chuck says no more cats once this guy goes,” she told me that time. “He wants a puppy, but I said forget it. Because then HE’LL go and die and I can’t have some yippy little faux-dog coming between me and my next husband.” 

She’s just kidding natch. In truth Nan is as tender-hearted as Chuck is.

I know because she has framed on the living room wall the card she gave him on their last anniversary.

It’s a photo of a crazy-looking couple pulled over beside the highway.

The woman is studying a giant road map - upside-down. The man, sporting the loud shirt-and-white-socks-with-dress-shoes look, stands alongside her, his hand over his face in despair.

“Still Lost in Love!” the card says, and under that in Nan’s writing, “I’ll love you WHEREVER we end up!” - and what could be nicer to hear than that for a person to hear?