Laughter: the measure of a friendship

I believe the better the friendship the more raucous the laugher—the real belly laughs that make you think you are going to die of asphyxiation. I have a number of friends that are enjoyable to be with but I have just two or three that make me really laugh.

Donna and I worked in home care at a Chicago area VA in the late ’80s. Our caseload mostly included veterans who were elderly with chronic disease or dying of cancer. Both NP’s, we worked four-ten hour days a week, each covering for the other on the day we had off. Jane, a third NP who worked with us, had young children and requested to work a regular schedule.

Many times after work, Donna and I lingered in the large 4-bed room on a deserted patient unit that served as an office for us three NPs. Each of our desks was centered against a wall. No other furniture filled cavernous room. Donna and I would take turns rolling our chairs next to the other’s desk. We discussed our patients before we wandered off into the personal and humorous. Our laughter ricocheted off the walls. If we became raucous, we didn’t care since there was no one nearby to complain.

After my husband and I had moved to the DC area, Donna came to visit. At one of my favorite art museums—The Phillips Gallery, Donna and I burst into unrestrained laughter. I can’t remember the trigger. What could be so funny in an art gallery? The other patrons gave us wide berth while we two middle-aged women tried to control ourselves. The more we worked to settle down, the harder we laughed. That was the last time Donna and I were together.

In 2000, Donna moved to southern Illinois and I to North Carolina. We emailed and occasionally spoke on the phone. In 2013, Donna was diagnosed with lymphoma.

During one of her remissions she reviewed my manuscript checking for any inaccuracies in my descriptions of NP practice in the 80’s. I sent her a thank you bouquet of flowers.

Now as I ready my book for publication, I am composing the Acknowledgements. The realization that Donna won’t see a formal appreciation saddens me. She died on July 9th.

I will miss her laughter.

By Marianna Crane

After a long career in nursing--I was one of the first certified gerontological nurse practitioners--I am now a writer. My writings center around patients I have had over the years that continue to haunt my memory unless I record their stories. In addition, I write about growing older, confronting ageism, creativity and food. My memoir, "Stories from the Tenth Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers" is available where ever books are sold.


  1. Dear Marianna, I am so very sorry for your loss of such a great friend.Your wonderful memories of her will live on. Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us. Laughter certainly is the best medicine!


  2. What a wonderful tribute to an exceptional nursing colleague. Donna did have a great sense of humor and contagious laugh. I well remember our tucked-in-a-corner “office” filled with random, mismatched, government-issued desks and chairs. Lots of really good patient care emanated from that space. Those were good times. Thanks for sharing Donna’s story.


  3. This makes me want to weep. Such a poignant loss. What a blessing to have had that kind of work friendship. I remember coming over to that office from mine across the way at a medical center. Sweet memories of younger days.


  4. Mrs. Crane, on Monday as we were riding out the outer effects of Irma, my husband and I found the only open restaurant in town. The place was packed, but there were two lady’s at the back table whose laughter filled the air and before long had us laughing right along- at God only knows what! It was joyous! I bet the patrons at the art museum really wanted to join in rather than avoid you! I am so sorry for the loss of your friend, but grateful you shared her memory with us! Thank you.


  5. This is such a great post and reminder of how laughter helps us do better work and sustains us in unique ways. I once worked in an office that was loaned space from the Department of Juvenile Justice in Georgia. The workers there were doing hard work on behalf of troubled youth. One of the men who worked there had the best laugh: loud, booming, and contagious. On so many difficult days that laugh comforted everyone within earshot. I think of it often. I wish I could summon that kind of laughter more readily! Thanks for sharing your museum story. I’ll think of you next time I hear women laughing uncontrollably.


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: