One Fart From Freedom on the Fourth of July

Fart. Poop. Underpants. I'm betting right now you're chuckling. Or at least you have a smile on your face. Because according to any kid under five, those are some of the funniest words in the English language. And let's face it, we all have a bit of "kid" left in us. Men probably more so than women.

Why, ask any mom with sons and invariably she'll have a story about the night her boys told fart jokes at dinner, cracking themselves up so much that they started farting right then and there.

Women are a bit more subtle. We sometimes pretend that we don't possess the bodily function of passing gas. But when someone accidentally cuts a tiny fart in public, we all giggle. Remember that scene with Miranda in the first Sex And The City movie?

I've never understood why these actions make people laugh. Perhaps because it's an embarrassing situation and we tend to snicker when embarrassed. And never in a million years did I think that fecal matter would dominate my family's conversation for days on end.

But it did.

It all started when my father became ill. Not to be too graphic, there was a miscommunication between the elimination systems in his body. We thought things were under control until suddenly, shit hit the fan -- literally. The situation required a simple surgery. But operating on an 89-year-old man always involves some risk. Fortunately, it was a success.

And then there he was, several days later, lying in a hospital bed, surrounded by his entire family, waiting to be discharged. And waiting and waiting.

Because as everyone knows, you can't leave the hospital until you perform two main functions: that of eating and that of pooping.

The eating part started with liquids, of which he consumed very little. After a few days, he graduated to that yummy hospital Jello. And then eventually on to the next stage -- that of passing gas.

So, here there I was, telling my father that "gas is good." Any kind. The "silent but deadly" type. The "loud as a rumbling train" variety. The "juicy fruity" sort. Just let it rip, I urged.

As did my sister, our kids, our husbands, my mother.

The days passed slowly with a little gas here and there. Which meant that surely, the poop was about to come.

By day ten, you could cut the tension that weaved itself into our family dynamics. We're all very close and it was a beautiful hospital, as far as hospitals go. It offered fine cafeteria dining in an outdoor setting, Wifi, and an assortment of vending machines that only charged a little more than minimum wage for a few bottles of water. But too much togetherness can cause friction in the best of families.

What we needed was some good old farts to cut through the air. To release my father and to set our family back on the path to normalcy.

By day fifteen, we had met all the RNs, CNAs, orderlies, team doctors, administration personnel and cafeteria cashiers. The only place in the hospital that I didn't visit was the gift shop. Although I was tempted to buy the "farting" pillow featured in the window.

And then it happened. On the Fourth of July, while fireworks lit up the sky, popping and crackling in the air, my dad's internal organs opened up with explosives of their own. Our family cheers rivaled those of the partygoers on the street.

As promised, he was discharged from the hospital.

Life went back to normal, with one small difference. I now have a "fart" story of my own, should the need arise.