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With that idea, I set off to find the necessary props for my “debut.” My goal was to bring to life Jonathan Winters’ “Maude Frichert” character, a sketch we often saw on various television shows during those years. To do this I would need to put on one of my mother’s dresses, cover my head with one of her shawls in addition to wearing her high heels and apply a convincing amount of mother’s makeup. Finally, I found a pair of my grandmother’s old glasses. Now I was ready for my first serious attempt at comedy.

I entered the the living room where mom was ironing arrayed in full costume. She glanced up and then did a double-take, the second look was one of horror. I launched into a routine of several lines I had made up for the character. Mom then placed her hand over her mouth and her eyes begin to widen. Then the unexpected happened. She began to laugh uncontrollably to the point where she was sobbing. Her expression had changed radically from weariness to unbridled joy.

That experience introduced me to valuable lessons regarding the power of laughter. First, I observed how humor could quickly transform a person’s outward countenance from sadness to laughter. Another lesson that came from that occasion was that this ability to impersonate was a gift to be utilized both lighten my burdens and the burdens of others.