WHY MY MOTHER COULDN’T LIVE THROUGH ANOTHER FEBRUARY

My mom died on the last day of January in 2009.

That was how much she hated February.

February is a gruesome month for so, so many reason.

You may have noticed I didn’t post a blog during the entire month.  It wasn’t entirely because of the February Blues.   But they certainly didn’t help.

I hate the term SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) that gets bandied about this month.  I don’t think it is a disorder to be depressed in February.  I think it’s a perfectly rational reaction.  (I do think it’s a great acronym though–much better than AARP or NAACP which don’t spell out any sort of apropos word).

Both my bus ride into the city and back home are shrouded in darkness.  Not even the brief return (for one day) of my bus crush has brought me much joy.   I know I’ve been known to be hard on Helen Keller, but I think I have a little more understanding how hard life was for her.  One of her most famous quotes was “Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing at all.”   I am pretty sure if I lived my life in darkness, my most famous quote would have simply been, “Life is nothing at all.”

Here are some of the depressing things about this February.

A Trip to Portland—Now don’t’ get me wrong.  My husband Saul has a lot of wonderful old friends in Portland and it was great to see them, but if you are going to travel somewhere in the bleak days of February, gray rainy Portland is NOT the place to go.  And if you do have to go to a gray rainy city in the middle of February, try not to avoid the beautiful parts and instead stay in a section of downtown that is full of homeless young heroin addicts.   I mean, for Pet’s sake, how in the hell are you supposed to find hope in your heart when you see helplessly lost teens everywhere you go?

I was there with Saul for a shoot for a series I am working on about a woman who rescues and adopts out special needs dogs.  Again, this is both heartwarming but kind of depressing   It’s great she is doing it,  but it tears at your heartstrings already weakened by living in darkness for months at a time.

Oh, and we also left without getting a puppy.   We were maybe going to get one but when we asked the woman if we could meet the puppy first, she decided to give the one she had earmarked for us to someone else.   I knew once Saul saw the puppy he would have said yes, but she didn’t trust that would happen.  Now my husband is also the guy who prevented me from having a puppy.   This is another depressing thing that happened in February.

The Roof–When the roof in your new house starts to leak when you have just got home from a dreary trip to Portland and, instead petting a puppy and smelling puppy breath, you are on your hands and knees wiping up water from your kitchen floor, you start to wonder what you have done to offend God.

The Final Chapter—No, I’m not talking about suicide.  I’m talking about the last chapter of my memoir I have been working on for years and years.   It seems my writing skills were good up until the penultimate chapter and then they ran out.  I’m in a writers group in NYC and have to admit I had a good run of bringing in work that was being praised.  In February, I wrote a first and then second and then third version of the final chapter only to see people in the group look bored or confused or downright hostile for making them listen to such inane drivel.  See, the problem with the last chapter of a memoir is that you have to tell the readers why you just made them sit through your life story.   It’s hard not to suddenly sound like a South Park episode.  “So, what I learned is that life is a challenge but, if you stick with it, it can be really rewarding.” or “That’s when I realized that lying is bad and you should always try to tell the truth.” or  “It was then that I knew that even though families aren’t perfect they are all you’ve got.”   

 I wonder if God had this much trouble ending the Bible.

If you have any ideas on how to end my book, please send them my way.  I’m currently thinking of just writing any random sentence and then writing the words THE END and hoping the reader thinks there is some deep meaning in it

And then my mother asked me if I would go to the store for laundry detergent.

THE END

See?  It kind of sounds profound?

Marriage—Marriage is exciting in the summer.  You ride bikes together, you go on walks and road trips, you grill out in the backyard and you ride rapids in inner tubes with your hands intertwined.  In the winter, I often walk in the house in the evening to find my puppy-blocker…I mean…my husband in sweats with an inflatable brace for his bad neck watching Murder She Wrote.   Sometimes I think it would be easier to walk in on him in an embrace with another man than with Angela Lansbury at the typewriter.

I wonder if Jessica Fletcher had trouble with  her last chapters?

Lent–I gave up posting political things on Facebook during Lent.  Do you understand how hard that is for me?  Every single day I have to resist doing it.  I mean, of all the problems in the world I have old high school friends who are worried about the NRA being attacked?  This is the cause they are choosing?   It boggles my mind.  And with his staff all quitting, and Putin talking about nuclear bombs that will destroy us and children being slaughtered in school, the President of the United States is angry about Alec Baldwin?  That is what is on his mind?!?!

During Lent, I believe I know how Job felt.

My friend Lisa loves February.  She loves the light in February.  She thinks the blue/gray muted colors make everything look magical.  She also finds that it is a nesting time.  You don’t feel guilty that you are not out paddle boarding or hiking and can hunker down inside with a home project or a good book.

When she told me that it did help me to change my perspective just a tiny bit.   After all, I moved back to the east coast from LA for a reason.  I hated that every day in LA felt the same.  I would often sigh and grumble that it was yet another sunny day.   “You are complaining about good weather?” a co-worker once asked in disbelief.

But I like thunderstorms and snow storms and even sometimes awful months like February.  If it wasn’t for February, I wouldn’t be so thrilled by my garden coming to life in May.  And this year I have an entirely new backyard to bring to life with Saul (hopefully he will have finished all 12 seasons of Murder She Wrote by then).

So, I guess February is necessary.  If there weren’t hard times in life or in family or in marriage or in work, then maybe the “spring” moments wouldn’t be so joyful.

I realize this all sounds a bit like a cliché, but really I’m just thrilled to sound even somewhat inspired after surviving these last 28 grim days.

THE END

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Keith Hoffman sometimes worries that most of America doesn’t realize that Angela Lansbury is also a five-time Tony-winning First Lady of Musical Theatre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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