Saturday, March 17, 2018

Maudlin March

The definition of Maudlin for those of you who may not know:
adjective: maudlin
self-pityingly or tearfully sentimental, often through drunkenness.

"the drink made her maudlin"

synonyms:sentimental, over sentimental, emotional, overemotional, tearful, lachrymose
However I am not drunk as I write this, just that March makes me extremely sentimental. My birthday falls in March and no its not about getting older, its that my much beloved grandmother's birthday was exactly five days before mine and we always celebrated together. I guess it also started with my being seven years old and twenty one days before my eighth birthday visiting my paternal grandparent's and my grandfather sitting in his chair teasing me clicking his silver lighter open and making the flame appear just as I would approach and then run giggling away, he would close it and wait for me to approach again and then flick it back to life. I can still see him hunched over lighter in hand spectacles on his nose, cuts on his work worn hands, smile on his face, the next day my mother sent the neighbor to pick me up from school and instead of taking me home she took me to my mother's parents. I knew something was wrong but no one would tell me. I can still remember getting out of the car and my grandmother standing there to greet me and her telling me that my grandfather had died and my parent's were at the hospital with my grandmother still. How, I remember thinking, he was just there yesterday. That was twenty days before my eighth birthday and forty one years later it still sticks with me every March 8th. The things that burn themselves into your memory, certain smells, sounds or actions come back to haunt you years later.
 So, today with my grandmother's birthday fast approaching, I find myself feeling maudlin, and even volunteered to cut the yard to be able to be alone with my thoughts and the smell of fresh cut grass,  while memories flooded through my mind like a film reel, seeing wildflowers popping up all over and the azaleas in bloom with the bridal wreath full of their white blooms. I was suddenly 8 years old all over again and  in my minds eye, picking those blooms for my grandmother whom I called Maw Maw. She would always take them wrap the stems in a moist paper towel and put them in the kitchen window. It wasn't until years later that my Aunt confided in me that I was actually giving them to the wrong person, while my Maw Maw may admire them for their prettiness it was my Paw Paw who truly felt their true beauty. He was a gardener as were most folks of his time, but he also had an affinity for pansies and petunias and planted them all over the yard.
I was listening to music as I cut grass and of course it being March felt the need to play Celtic Women, and they sing the song Ave Maria on their cd and I had forgotten that and suddenly it begins to play and here I am cutting grass with my headphones on and singing to the top of my lungs with tears streaming down my face as I am now seeing myself in the church with  my grandparents, I was very small because my grandfather was holding me and I had white sandals on my feet. I was watching the alter boys and the song was being sung. Again I am an adult and sitting behind my grandparents in the pew and hearing Mack singing the song while my child was sitting in Paw Paw's lap. Then again as I stood angry and bitter at death, whilst Mack sang again just for my grandfather, as he had requested, as I cried gasping for breath whilst his coffin lay before us in the church and my husband patted my back worriedly. For although this had not happened in March or no where near that, it always still happens that these memories should come upon me during this time. Which is why I have taken to calling it Maudlin March.
Maw Maw and I were both middle children she would tell me confidentially that we were alike, that we both had the same feelings of never being the good one, always being the one who caused trouble and inadvertently often did. She was always the one who I felt truly understood me. She and I both had to grow up having birthdays that fell during Lent and often times our birthdays fell on a Friday and sometimes on Good Friday. How many times she made me a birthday cake that she herself couldn't eat because she had given sweets up for Lent? I can remember right before she passed away that we had a discussion on whether her birthday had ever fallen on Easter since mine had fallen on Good Friday, and she said the year before she was born in 1913 it would again in 2008, she died that December after in 2002 before that could happen. Mine falls on Easter in the year 2027, I'll be 58.
I am now writing this and of course, I am crying. Memories that I refuse to let go of haunt me today. Why as humans do we do this to ourselves? But in truth it is our memories and our emotions that make us human. So this Friday, I will cry yet again, and think of the woman whom I loved so very much. I will go visit her grave and place there a shiny dime. It was always my childhood gift to her, because in her time a dime was real silver and could buy so much more and she had once told me that as a girl she would be happy to get a dime as a gift, so I began to give her dimes instead of wildflowers and most importantly whilst there I will thank her and my grandfather both for the memories.

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