It is hard to believe that February is the shortest month when it seems like an endless slog of darkness, illness and cold. However, as it finally draws to a close, I think I have the discovered a cosmic February balance. Each of the “bad” things, the dramas, hassles and irritants have been perfectly offset by equal treasures. Maybe this has been going on every month, but it is only in February when the contrasts are extreme enough to draw one’s attention to it. Lest you doubt my premise, allow me to present several examples.
The weather. Yes, it has been cold. The wind has been bitter. There has been snow and a substantial quantity of ice. I have to force myself to leave the house. The offset? A true luxury. A winter getaway to Mexico with the daughter. The weather cleared long enough for our flights. The resort was beautiful. For four days, we wore sandals and sundresses and bathing suits. There were fruity cocktails, fine food prepared by others. An endless supply of tropical fruit. Guacamole available around the clock. Yes, it was an indulgent escape from New England February. The true luxury amid all the amenities was the uninterrupted time with my daughter. I will accept all the past and future cold weather to have this daughter who is a best friend and to have had this opportunity to laugh, talk and shop for embroidered dresses for Lo and Cora with her.
In other mother-daughter events, I had what was my most unpleasant, heart-wrenching interaction with my mother this month. I had to tell my mother and her husband that I sold their house. This was frankly good news (to me, at least) and the culmination of months of work – it needed to happen to keep them in long-term care and the buyers are an adorable, enthusiastic young couple who will no doubt love that house as much as my mom does. My druthers would have been to keep this transaction a secret and continue the fantasy that my mom and her husband will be returning home as soon as they “get better.” However, their care team felt that honesty is best and would help them toward acceptance of their current location as their new home. We scheduled a date for “the talk” including the social worker and nurse. I was apprehensive, but prepared. It did not go well. It went very badly, in fact. There were accusations and recriminations, anger and tears. And although I felt hurt, I could also understand how shocking it must be to know you don’t have a home to go home to. And that all your possessions had vanished, all at the hand of your daughter. It took me a couple of days to shake it off and I was left doubting if I would ever be able to reconcile the mother I once had with the one I have now. And perhaps in the same way I struggle to forgive her for the past several years, she might also never forgive me.
Nine days later was a planned celebration for my mother’s 80th birthday. I dreaded the party more than I dreaded the house sale reveal. Maybe it was a dementia blessing and my mother had forgotten what evil I had done, or maybe it was just February’s way of balancing the bad with the good. Where the former meeting could barely have been worse, the Birthday party could not have been better. Indeed, things are better with cake and it also doesn’t hurt to reopen your heart and see what happens.
Also this month: my dear Aunt Rita died. That she lived a long (95 years) happy life is certainly consolation. But I am sad for the missed opportunities to spend time with her and for the impact on her siblings, including my father, whose numbers have dwindled from six to three. The compensation for this was the chance for the large Martin clan to gather. I am proud to be a part of this family. Not only do they have longevity and good looks, there are lots of them! It gives me no small measure of comfort to know that I have so many relations in this world. Though we don’t gather often, and the occasion was indeed sad, it was also a needed reminder of the legacy that Aunt Rita and her siblings have entrusted to this generation.
A final balancing of the February scales? You know how I feel about my granddaughters. I would give them anything. This month they gave something to my husband and me. The worst head cold of our adult lives. A cornucopia of symptoms: sore throat, sneezing coughing, aches, chills, fever and so much mucus. I googled where does mucus come from. I googled what’s the difference between a cold and the flu. I couldn’t bear an evening glass of wine. I missed an entire week of working out. What could possibly offset this ordeal? Well, the chance, courtesy of family members being around for a funeral and a milestone birthday, to show off my grandbabies to my sister and brother-in-law and my dad and his wife. Lo was the remedy she always is, regaling us with songs and descriptions of her future 3rd birthday, with the nap game and the ABC’s. And Cora at 10 weeks of age: she will lock eyes and mimic your facial expressions and sounds. She will fall asleep in your arms. If that is not a cure for the Februaries, I don’t know what is.