What Is A Greater Gift Than Laughter?

I was reading this piece about cartoonist Gary Larson, the creator of the legendary single-panel newspaper comic, “The Far Side”.

I’ve always loved his droll depictions of animals. No one except Chick Fil A has done more for cows. He explains that he finds even the word “cow” unintentionally funny.

Everyone in my family loved this cartoon feature so much that we would quote lines to one another, even if we weren’t talking very much to each other about anything else.

In case you’ve never seen “The Far Side”, examples are here, here, and here.

But the ultimate compliment I can pay to Gary Larson’s gift for humor is to tell you kind of a weird story from this past year.

“The Far Side” hasn’t run original cartoons in many years, and you no longer see the posters and calendars that were so ubiquitous in the ’80s and ’90s. So I hadn’t thought about the strip in a long time.

On this particular day in May, I was at my vet’s office, facing the demise of my four-legged best friend, Laney. After 15 years, her body was just shutting down. I was pretty low and alone.

She and I were in an exam room, awaiting the doc to pronounce her. If you’ve never been in a vet’s office, these exam rooms are pretty bare bones—a stainless steel counter, a couple of cabinets, maybe a plastic chair. Nothing that can be broken or can’t be easily cleaned.

When I needed to get up off the floor, where I had been sitting with my pup, so I could stretch, I started reading the walls. We’ve all done it: if they make you wait long enough, you’ll read the EXIT sign, right?

Well, someone had framed a set of “Far Side” panels, maybe a dozen of them. Some I remembered, some I didn’t.

In spite of the sadness of the moment, those silly comic strips had me smiling through the tears. I’m not embarassed to say it, and somehow, it seemed appropriate. If you had known my Chocolate Lab, you’d know she was almost vaudevillian in her clumsy antics.

I think she’d have wanted me to smile.

But Gary Larson made it happen in that moment.


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