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Is it OK to Laugh During Such a Difficult Time? A conversation with Gregg and Jeff Foxworthy

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger
The Truth Network Radio
April 26, 2020 10:24 pm

Is it OK to Laugh During Such a Difficult Time? A conversation with Gregg and Jeff Foxworthy

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger

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April 26, 2020 10:24 pm

The Foxworthys are two of my favorite people in the world. For twenty years, I've had the privilege of calling them friends ...and they have both been great mentors to me as I've built the show and our message to family caregivers. 

Is it OK to laugh ...even when dealing with harsh realities? Yes! Keeping a sense of humor is imperative. Every caregiver will admit the tears are never in short supply. But the inventory of laughter remains scarcer than a roll of Charmin at Walmart. Humor can not only help the healing process with the patient but also for the caregiver — as well as the country.

Jeff and Gregg married nearly 35 years ago, and their amazing partnership as helped lighten the hearts of countless lives. YOU WILL LOVE this conversation with these two wonderful people. 

About Peter Rosenberger

“How can you laugh given what you all live through!?”

Peter Rosenberger often hears that question when people learn of his 34+ year journey as a caregiver for his wife, Gracie, who lives with severe disabilities(80 operations & the amputation of both legs).Yet, Peter and Gracie draw hope from their deep faith which strengthens their hearts—and the couple brings a contagious inspiration that lightens weary hearts struggling with challenges.

 Sponsored by: Standing With Hope

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I've been doing a series of people that I wanted to have on the show just to speak from their heart and encourage us as Americans and just as individuals, as believers, and mostly as caregivers, and to talk about their own journeys. And I'm ending this series with a bang here because I've got two of the most dear people in the whole world that are on the show with me today, and that is Jeff Foxworthy and his lovely wife, Greg. And I'm glad to have you both here. So thank you for joining me. Hey, Peter. Glad to be here. I drove all the way to the top of the driveway at the farm just so I could talk to you.

God love you. All right, now look, Larry the Cable Guy was on a couple of weeks ago, and we were having a conversation, and as a lot of people that don't know this, but he can get quite serious at times and deal with things, and he doesn't mind just jumping into all kinds of subjects. And we're talking about something, and all of a sudden, out of the blue, he said, hey, do you hear Jeff shaved his mustache? What's that all about?

And he was like emotionally torqued up about that. Did you shave it and grow it back, or what is going on with that? The first week of quarantine, I started growing it the summer between the 11th and the 12th grade, and Greg and I are about to be married for 35 years, and she had never seen me without it, and so when we went into quarantine, I thought, you know, all my shows got canceled, and I thought, well, I've never had a month where I wasn't on stage in my adult life. And so I said, well, I'm going to shave my mustache, and I didn't ask anybody, I just did it, and Greg looked at it, and she said, yeah, okay, grow it back.

All right, okay. We did that, saw that, grow it back. The novelty was over. And so, and then it was so funny, people online were like, this is not right, this is not American, and so I have officially, as an adult, I have shaved my upper lip one time, and now I'm happy to report the mustache is back in full force. The stache is back.

It takes me about three weeks to grow it. What did the kids say? I mean, it was kind of, yeah, the same reactions, like, oh, wow, that's cool. All right, where's our dad? What have you done with our father? Nobody thought I looked like me, so.

I want to start with Greg. You are engaged now as a caregiver. A lot of people may not know this about you guys, but you guys have aging parents, and you're dealing with realities.

Right. How's that been for you? Let me, more specifically, what surprised you about the journey that you probably didn't expect or didn't think about, but it just kind of hit you and surprised you? You know, I think at our season of life, I know a lot of my friends are coming into this role for the first time. However, Jeff and I have been in this role for years because it was my stepfather for years who went through a lot of illnesses, and then it just, he died, and it morphed right into my mom. And I guess there's such, there's a grief that I have to allow myself to feel from time to time.

For example, her birthday was this month, and every year for years, we went to New York in April and spent a long weekend and saw shows and went shopping, and it was just our annual time. Well, she has Parkinson's, and she can't really travel anymore. Mentally, she's great, but physically, she's just deteriorating. So it's not just that for her, it's a loss for me as well because those shared experiences have been taken with her disease and with her age. And so I have to allow myself to feel grief and sadness, not just for her, but for myself as well. Jeff, I mean, your career is so consuming with entertainment and so forth, and yet when you come home, you're not Jeff Foxworthy on stage, you're just Jeff Foxworthy, Greg's husband, and you're watching her go through these things.

What does that do to you, and how do you respond, and how do you connect with her through that kind of stuff? Well, I mean, you know, she's being kind. We've been caregiving, Peter, for 20 years.

Greg is one of those people kind of like you. It's just her nature. God wired her that way. Both of us are caregivers.

That's the way we are wired without thinking about it. It's just taking care of people. That being said, she is amazing at it because there are times that it gets frustrating. It's like with her mom, who, like she said, is mentally healthy, and you want to go out to dinner, but because in her Parkinson's has really been accelerating the last couple of years, and now she can barely walk. So you want to take her out to eat, but it becomes such an ordeal. Greg just is blessed with an enormous amount of patience, an enormous amount of compassion and understanding, and is able to just sit back and have the joy of her mom's company amidst all the added work.

And so I kind of marvel at her every day, but I've kind of marveled at her every day for 35 years. Well, I like this show already. You're going to want a copy of this show, aren't you, Greg? Absolutely. I'm taking notes.

Well, let me ask you this. Your faith, it's very important to both of you. How has that anchored you through these grieving spots and these things where you're constantly being asked to, or find yourself involved in caring, and watching the deterioration or watching the frustration?

We all have those things, and you feel helpless about it. Where does your faith anchor you in these things? Without it, I don't know how anyone survives anything, but it's not just lip service to me. When you hear you need to be grateful and thank the Lord and trust in the Lord and know that there's a plan, but we really do. And so if I start to get down, I have to stop and really make myself take note and say, okay, what am I thankful for? I'm thankful she could still do this. I'm thankful I still have this with her. I'm thankful that I'm able to do these things with her, and I'm in a position to help her, and God has equipped me to be able to do that.

I think it's finding the joy and thankfulness and gratefulness in sometimes the most difficult situations. I've got a buddy of mine that told me this some years ago, and it really worked out. Sometimes the simple things are the most effective things. And when you're laying in bed at night and you're talking with the ceiling fan and your mind is racing and you don't know what to do, and you're just, okay, what about this? What are we going to do about this?

How are we going to do this? And he said, the way I settle my mind down is I just go through the alphabet and I list everything that starts with that letter that I can think of and be grateful for those things. And it just helps reorient me. You guys are grateful people. I know that. I've spent time with you. I know that gratitude is a big part of your life. What are some things that you do, Jeff, that when your mind is racing like that to re-anchor yourself in that, specifically with the gratitude of what the Lord has done, with just the marriage that you two have had, your kids and so forth, just anchoring yourself? Because I know that it can get hairy at times.

Oh, no, it gets hairy a lot of times. As you know, Peter, forever, I've done a Bible study with homeless guys and a buddy of mine, Ronnie Brasfield, that teaches it. One of the things that we've taught through the years is the fork in the road. And what the fork in the road is, is choosing between good and best. And I say that because the devil doesn't make stuff look bad. If he made it look bad, you wouldn't walk down that road.

He makes it look good. And so, you know, it's thinking about every morning choosing between good and best, best being God. And so at that fork, if you imagine a road coming to a fork, at that why, I've always, and I'm a mental image person, I guess it's being a writer or whatever, but that why to me is my feet hitting the floor in the morning. And when my feet hit the floor in the morning, I try to remind myself every day when they hit the floor, slip on the slippers of gratitude, because I find it being grateful makes you aware that you're not in control. You know, that's one of the things that I think that this coronavirus has done is to make people realize, oh, wow, I thought I was in control of my life and I'm not in control of anything. And I think that's one of the lessons that I've learned in life is we're really not in control.

And so it is the creator that is in control. You know, my mom, my mom has had an issue through the years of she has a bleeding lung, one side of her lung bleeds. And when it bleeds, it's bad and she ends up being hospitalized. Well, in February, she was in ICU for a couple of weeks in the hospital for about three weeks and then rehab for another week or two after that. And now she goes home. She's 83 years old with a bleeding lung and this coronavirus hit, you know, and thankfully, she has one of her brothers who is staying with her. So she's got somebody with her permanently. We can't see her.

We drove up the other day and took a barbecue and set it on the porch and visited for an hour or two from the yard. But, you know, and so my mom, who taught me faith at a young age, she said, you know, I just sit there and think, what if my lung starts bleeding again? And I said, hey, what control do you have over that mom?

She said, none. I said, yeah, so don't sit there and what if, you know, we're not in control of anything. And some people may look at that as a negative or something to have to spare in.

But I don't look at it that way. It's almost freeing to me. It's like, OK, God, you're in control.

And so every day that we do this is an adventure. Every day, I don't know what today's going to bring when I hit the floor, but I don't have to know. It's enough for me that God knows what's going to happen. It's enough for me that he's equipped me in many ways to deal with it.

And what I can't deal with, he's equipped to deal with. And so it's letting go and I physically, the older I get, I do this. I will I will clench my fist. I mean, it's like if I'm running, going down the road and somebody cuts me off in traffic, I'll clench my fist. And I literally just open my hand and just go, let it go, let it go, let it go.

And it's I have found just that simple act of just opening my hand is freeing and fortifying. Well, I learned the hard way. Gracie didn't have to learn it this way, the hard way, but I learned you can't push a wheelchair with Clint's fist.

Gracie was not in the wheelchair when I was trying to push it with. I'm just kidding. But the concept is that we do want to hang on to these resentments and and they will eat you alive. Greg, you have spent a good bit of time dealing with people in crisis and training yourself and equipping yourself to be able to go and be with people in different kinds of crisis, whether it's intervention stuff or whatever.

And what have you learned through that process that is better equipped you to care for someone who's going through the deterioration of life and age and chronic illnesses and impairments and so forth? I'll answer that. But first, I want to say, isn't my husband precious? I'm very, very blessed to be married to him. That was the word I was thinking for.

It's just precious. Hey, y'all, this is a family show. I heard a great one the other day because you're in the truck while you're doing this. A buddy of mine called me up and he said they were in quarantine and said they slept late. And they said we didn't get to bed last night until really late.

I said, I really don't want to hear this, that y'all sit there and watch the sun rise over the windshield. But no, he is precious. Precious, that's a good word for him. He is.

He is. Well, years ago, God put it on my heart in church, I mean, I remember the moment, and I had little babies then, and I felt called to become a Stevens minister. And that was at the time a lay Christian ministry. And it's morphed, and I don't know if they still call it Stevens ministry anymore.

They do. I've actually had the founder of it on the show. Wow. I love Stevens ministers, love them. It was eye opening for me. And, you know, if you can go back and make other choices in life, I think, oh, you know, maybe I should have gone into counseling or something, I don't know. But this opened doors and understanding for me to, and equipped me to be able to go and help people simply by listening. And that was the whole core of it. It was a skill to learn to listen to, you know, not only what people were upset about, but, you know, try to hear what's underneath all that.

And, you know, give them comfort through scripture and through prayer. But the key was learning to listen. And that was very instrumental and important for me. I mean, it helped me as a parent, it helped me as a wife, it helped me as a friend.

They were just incredible skills. But I learned that you can't fix people. And I had been kind of a fixer always, and I still have that tendency to want to fix. That's just, again, how I'm wired to on the Enneagram, I want to help and I do want to fix. And once I let that go, and I have to do it often, and I have to remind myself often, because it's not, you know, a natural tendency to just let it go. Once I do and I release it and realize, I just need to sometimes sit with somebody and they're hurt and let God do the work.

All I have to do is just sit there and be present. That was very important. And that's helped in every aspect of my life. And then in later life, I started helping with interventions and getting people who, you know, might have had drug or alcohol dependency get help. And that's an incredibly rewarding and wonderful to see people get healthy. You know, there's nothing like a chronic impairment to effectively convince you that you can't fix it, you know, because you throw everything you have at it.

And then when you realize you don't have to, that's not your role. And you guys are elbows deep into a lot of very painful situations with a lot of different lives. And you have been in that type of mentality is what I wanted to bring to this show to help people understand, because the people I'm caring for on this show and reaching out and trying to hopefully point to safety. You know, these are the things that we need to be reminded of. I need to be reminded of these things.

I've said for years that I don't we caregivers don't really need a lot of instruction, but we need a whole lot of reminders and reminders. Where's the safety path? Where's safety here for us?

And safety is knowing that it's not mine to fix. I didn't do this to Gracie. I can't undo this. You didn't cause Parkinson's with your mother. You can't undo this. You didn't cause your mother's lung to bleed, Jeff.

You can't undo this. And so our role is different in this and it's learning to be at peace. And I think this, like you said, Jeff, this coronavirus has really solidified that we are not masters of our own domain here.

And said, wait a minute, we are completely at the mercy of something we can't even see. And that's unsettling for people, isn't it? It was unsettling for me when I learned it.

I think it's unsettling for a lot of people, which is the initial reaction. And it's very strange for me in that all of my work is gone. I can't do a live show.

I can't do a TV show. All of my work is gone. You got me, Jeff. I'm right here, baby. I'm here for you.

I'm right here. How much are we getting for calling after that? Listen, ten bucks is ten bucks. That's right. You know, Peter, but our physical abilities as caregivers, they don't change day to day. I mean, you know, what changes is our attitude.

And so one of the and I need to remind myself of that. Sometimes, you know, my mom has clung to being in the house and I understand it. It's near her friends and near her church and all.

But it's over an hour away from where we are. And so it's not like going down the street to go take her groceries, to go take her to eat, to go. But I understand why she wants to live there. I understand that she doesn't want to have this condition. That's one of the things that I have to remind myself of.

She didn't ask for this and she doesn't want this. And so, you know, the only thing that we really have influence on as caregivers is our attitude. And I don't know out of all the jobs why I was given the gift of being able to make people laugh. And I don't think that laughter makes struggle go away. But I do think laughter is like the release valve that keeps the boiler from exploding.

And so when I look at it like that, I go, oh, well, this is a kind of a cool gift that I've been given. I'm keeping people's boilers from exploding. And as caregivers, sometimes we do get so caught up in the struggle and in the negative that we lose our humor. And our humor controls our attitude.

And you're going to be doing the job anyways. And so having a positive attitude about it makes it better for you and it makes it better for the person you're taking care of. And so, you know, I try to not lose sight of the fact that, yeah, I need to remind myself that even in the frustration and the struggle, there's laughter in all of this. And so, you know, that would be a reminder I would get for people out there. Find something that makes you laugh.

Every night, our family during this coronavirus, we watched a couple of episodes of The Office before we've gone to bed just to end the day on a laugh. Well, that is a great word to do. Don't go away. We've got to go to a break here.

We're talking with Jeff and Greg Foxworthy. This is Hope for the Caregiver. Hopeforthecaregiver.com.

We've got more to go. Hey, this is Larry the Cable Guy. You are listening to Hope for the Caregiver with Peter Rosenberg.

And if you're not listening to it, you're a communist, Peter. Have you ever struggled to trust God when lousy things happen to you? I'm Gracie Rosenberger. And in 1983, I experienced a horrific car accident leading to 80 surgeries and both legs amputated. I questioned why God allowed something so brutal to happen to me.

But over time, my questions changed and I discovered courage to trust God. That understanding, along with an appreciation for quality prosthetic limbs, led me to establish Standing with Hope. For more than a dozen years, we've been working with the government of Ghana and West Africa, equipping and training local workers to build and maintain quality prosthetic limbs for their own people. On a regular basis, we purchase and ship equipment and supplies.

And with the help of inmates in a Tennessee prison, we also recycle parts from donated limbs. All of this is to point others to Christ, the source of my hope and strength. Please visit standingwithhope.com to learn more and participate in lifting others up.

That's standingwithhope.com. I'm Gracie, and I am standing with hope. That's my wife, Gracie, singing that. I love that. And I love listening to her sing.

And she means that. He'll give you hope for tomorrow, joy for your sorrow. And that's what this show is all about, is helping you as a family caregiver learn to be able to navigate to a place of safety for you. We can't take away the pain. We can't take away the heartache.

We can't take away the grieving. But we hope through this show that we can leave you a little better than we found you. And you're more equipped with a vocabulary of understanding what your role in this.

And more importantly, how God is working in your life through this. And in doing that, I've invited two very special guests on today. And that is Jeff and Greg Foxworthy. And they've been friends of ours for a long time. And I'm very grateful for them. And I'm grateful for their insights. And I told this to Jeff. In fact, when I first started doing a radio show and I had this idea of doing it, Jeff was the one guy that just jumped on it and said, you need to do this. And Peter, make them laugh.

You know more than most how painful the journey is and they need to be able to laugh. And he's mentored me through this process. Both of them have, as I've gone, stepped into broadcasting and all this kind of thing. And I also just steal liberally from him. And I don't care.

I don't even make any apologies for it. I have watched his act many times. I've listened to his show. Of course, he has the Comedy Roundup here on Sirius as well. And he and Larry, the cable guy. But he does a show every week or so that's called A Comic Mind, where he digs into these comedians and really kind of unpacks how they do things. And Greg, if you'll indulge me for just a minute. Jeff, I want to ask you about this.

And here's the setup. Our country right now is just, you know, we're all over the map here. But you're one of these unique individuals, because of the nature of your work, that you have seen more America than most politicians ever will, including presidents.

I mean, that's part of being a stand-up comedian that you get out. And you spend time in, you know, minuscule places around the country. You're interacting with America on a level that very few people really do. And as you look out at the landscape – excuse me, that's not Corona, that's hay fever. And as you look out on the landscape and you see the unsettleness of this country that I know that you love, and these people love you.

And, you know, how do you write and dig into comedy to help get them to a place of safety, where they could just catch their breath or take a knee if they have to? And Barry Manilow said this years ago when I heard this interview. And he said, I'm not there to cure cancer.

I just want to help make you forget about it for about an hour and a half. And I thought that was such a great quote. And that's your heart.

I know that. But how does that work now in this situation? Kind of walk us through that a little bit.

You know, it's interesting you say that about Manilow. And for the last year or so, I start the show by saying, you know, I remind myself right before I walk out on stage that everybody I'm going to be looking at is going through a struggle. It might be financial. It might be physical. It might be emotional. But every single person that I look at is going through a struggle.

And everybody that you ever see on stage is going through a struggle. And so, you know, going back to the point, I don't think laughter makes the struggle go away. But it does keep you from going crazy. Laughter does. Music does.

A lot of things do. And one of the coolest things about being a comedian, as a kid, I never went anywhere. I mean, vacation for us was going from Georgia to Denmark, South Carolina, to stay in my grandmother's trailer for two weeks on the farm. But as a comedian, I've been to all 50 states. And I haven't met many people that have been to every state. And not only all 50 states, almost every part of all 50 states.

And the biggest thing I learned from that is the scenery changes, the accents change. But people are people. People are the same everywhere you go. The things that people want and desire are the same everywhere you go. You know, I was contemplating the other day, it always kind of amazes me that when the country is in crisis, like it is now or 9-11 or whatever, that people rise up. People want to take care of each other. People go out of their way to take care of each other.

Which is a cool kind of phenomenon. So, you know, as a comedian, what you're looking for is what do we have in common? And that's where comedy is for me. I was very lucky very early on in my comedy career to learn what worked for me.

And that was I just assumed if I thought something or my wife said something or my family did something, I'm going to assume other people are thinking and saying and doing the same thing. And so that for me, I didn't have to sit there and go what's funny, what's funny, what's funny. Like I did a joke on the last special with Larry, I said here are things that Google can't tell you. One of the things was out of all the cereal, out of all the cereals, Captain Crunch is the most time intensive. And by that I meant if you eat it too soon after you pour the milk on, you will rip the roof of your mouth to shreds. You wait too long after you pour the milk on and the captain will put a film on your teeth a wire brush can't get rid of. Now, and I only did that joke because I thought, you know, there's a very fine line on Captain Crunch once you pour the milk on as to when you dive in to eat it.

And people burst out laughing. And so I'm like, wow, I'm not the only person to have this thought. But I operated on the assumption if I thought this, other people have thought this. And so, you know, the biggest compliment for me is after a show when somebody comes up and goes, oh, my gosh, you've been in our house.

Oh, my gosh, I've done that or I've thought that. And so you realize, you know, politically in this country and it's kind of nice right now because so much of the politics has gone away outside of Washington. Politically, we're as divided as I ever remember in my lifetime. But I think if you could take people from both ends of the political spectrum and just sit down with them and talk and you would find that they probably have 85 percent of everything in common. But as a society, we don't dwell on that 85 percent. We dwell on the 15 percent that is different as a comedian.

I want that 85 percent. And so when when I walk out there to talk, I don't care how you vote. I don't care where you live. It's I want to find the things that connect us. And, you know, in an environment like we're all living in right now, hey, we're all connected. What you do affects me. What I do affects you. And. So, yeah, I don't know if I answered your question or not. Well, you take me through the process and that's what I find fascinating is, is connecting to people instead of trying to come up with something that's funny.

Just looking at life. And a lot of people don't know this. And, Greg, I'm going to I'm going to dig into y'all's past a little bit. But a lot of people don't know this, that when Jeff left IBM, I would I think, do I have this right, that pretty much everybody in your life thought you were nuts for doing so? Jeff, is that right? Except for Greg. Greg was the only person that said, you have all of this stuff bottled up inside of you. And if you don't find a way to get it out, you're going to have a miserable life. What was that like for you when he made that decision and you went out, you sat out in the audience and took notes of jokes that worked?

Is that? I did. And, you know, I mean, for me, it was a no brainer. And and we were, you know, 26, 27, no kids.

So we didn't have those kind of pressures and responsibilities. And, you know, my thought was. If you don't give this a shot now, you're never going to know. And I just knew the way God had wired him and equipped him that he had so much. Offer and such talent.

To be put to good use. And I've never. I don't think either of them ever.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-23 13:12:20 / 2024-01-23 13:24:41 / 12

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