The Sweetest (and Busiest) Month
February has a lot going for it, and a lot going on in it. Even though it's a mini-month, it's got quite a bit on its frosty plate.
There was a full moon on the 1st. And when the clouds over the Northwest parted one magical night about three-thirty a.m., I inched one eye open briefly, made note of the miracle, then went back to sleep. One can only take so much excitement at three-thirty in the morning.
On the 2nd, we had Groundhog Day (which also happens to be one of my favorite movies). This year, Punxsutawney Phil, groundhog extrordinaire, favored us with a happy prediction: Spring is on the event horizon. After which, Mother Nature promptly dumped one bazillion inches of snow on New York. An ominous start to Spring, certainly, and not the brightest feather in Phil's soggy cap.
On the 10th, my younger daughter turned 16. Amazing to me, since it was only yesterday when she took her first step. It was yesterday, wasn't it? Can fifteen years have passed so quickly? Where did they go? Oh, there they are, reflected in my mirror. In the faded strands of hair on my head, the softer lines around my eyes. The years are there on both of us. On my daughter, they look like youthful beauty, insatiable curiosity, worlds to conquer. On me, those same elements have been tempered over time, they've mellowed, settled down into a quiet acceptance of some things, determined resistance of others.
Of course, the 14th is Valentine's Day, a happy day for some girls, not so much for others. Decades ago, Janis Ian wrote a song that pretty much summed it up for most of us:
I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens . . .
The valentines I never knew,
The Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on ones more beautiful,
At seventeen I learned the truth.
To those of us who knew the pain
of valentines that never came . . .
It's a really depressing song, actually, but it became the mantra of girls for whom Valentine's Day brought more heartache than heart-shaped boxes. I still like Valentine's Day; and maybe, someday, the cutest boy in class (having aged into the most ambulatory old gent in the Home) will gift me with a box of See's, and a kiss or two.
On the 18th of the month, wedding bells will ring for my older daughter. In anticipation of this happy event, I've been crying like a baby all week. So ridiculous, but there you have it. I have a wonderful CD called Wonder Wheel by the Klezmatics. They are a band that blends the sounds of Yiddish culture with world music and American traditions. The music is wonderful, evocative, and can be enjoyed by everyone (I'm not Jewish, and I love this CD). The lyrics were written by Woody Guthrie, and set to music by this band. One of the songs is called Headdy Down; it's a lullaby. I can't get through it without bursting into tears. While the words are sweet, the melody is lovely, and the two combined make a Mommy's heart swell.
The chorus goes:
Headdy down, Headdy down,
Headdy headdy head down;
Baby lay your head down
Just like mine.
With my daughter getting married, the Empty Nest thing has been weighing heavily on me this week, and when I heard that tune this morning, oh my. Such a flood. My daughter, my first born, married. Oh, dear. Here I go again. Just yesterday she was a baby, her soft head on the pillow next to mine . . . oh, dear.
Sniff. Okay. Better now.
The 16th would have been my mother's 82nd birthday; I always have a cup of coffee on the morning of her birthday, tip the cup to her, and smile. When she lived with us, just before she died, we had a ritual of sitting at the kitchen table and having a cup of coffee. Oh, dear, there I go again. I warned you I've been crying for days!
February also contains Chinese New Year, Ash Wednesday, Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays, and probably some other celebrations I've never even heard of. What an action-packed little month!
And then, last, but not least, on the 27th, Arousing Suspicions will hit the shelves! I love Nate and Tabitha's story, and I hope you will, too. If you get a chance to read it, please drop me a line and let me know. I love hearing from you.
All in all, February is a sweet and sentimental month, and if I make it through to the end without shedding another tear, I'll be surprised!