What Mom taught me

I’m very lucky that my mother is still alive, an amazing example. My dad passed away when I was very young, so my family is matriarchal, lucky for us. I only have 3 or 4 solid memories of my father. I was five when he died. Meanwhile, my mom is still intellectually sharp, a source of wisdom and a whole lot of fun.

Case in point, today’s lesson. My mom developed a mild infection in her eye last weekend. By mid-week her self-care had brought it under control, and today it’s almost completely gone.

She giggled as she recited a little verse for me.

The pimple popped,
I have no pain
From now on?
I can’t complain.

She’s been doing lots of versifying, and sharing her words of wisdom. I could do worse than to be explaining why there’s no reason to be upset, in rhyme.

But that’s not what the headline meant. Forgive me.

My favorite television show just had its last episode after an eight season run, namely Mom. With a family like mine it was inevitable i’d love it to pieces.

In case you didn’t know it’s a show about a mother & daughter. They are both recovering alcoholics & addicts, struggling with recovery, blame & judgment and their survival. It’s the darkest comedy I’ve ever seen yet it’s very funny too.

Please note, I’m not in recovery but I was a serious drinker in my 20s, coping with undiagnosed arthritis for over a decade, using beer & cannabis for pain relief, as I clung to my sanity (wondering if the pain was all in my head, as at least a couple of doctors implied….they couldn’t figure out what was wrong). I survived until the diagnosis gave me back my dignity.

Can you think of better theme music for such a show than Glinka’s frenetic overture to Ruslan & Ludmilla?

Fun but crazy. Crazy but fun.

Was Glinka a drinker? (yes my mother’s rhymes are better).

But I was serious about the show. It is teaching me a few things.

1-When you watch episode after episode featuring alcoholics trying to recover from their addictions (and there are several others they explore, besides drink) you learn not to judge. That’s the lesson. Don’t judge. No matter how they look, how wealthy, how young or old, you don’t know what people have suffered, are enduring. Don’t judge.

2- There are lots of possible addictions. I know people who drink, smoke, gamble, take drugs of various kinds. They spend as though credit cards were a drug ( maybe they are?). And there are other addictions too. It’s complicated.

Jodi (Emily Osment) with Bonnie ( Allison Janney)

3- Truth is best whenever possible although sometimes a lie is merciful & kind. But it may be hard to understand the truth, hard to discern the truth.

4- Boundaries are a good thing. It’s not something you may be aware of if you had a good upbringing. If your childhood included the death of a parent or a divorce, boundaries or the lack thereof may be vitally important to you. We see it again and again as a plot point on the show.

5- Age is just a number. You can be young all your life (as my mom repeatedly shows me) or you can be old if you choose that path: although I don’t recommend it.

6- Writing is the root of good comedy. Mom has some of the best writing I’ve ever seen. I’m currently binge-watching season six of eight. Yes it’s ironic that I seem to be addicted to a show about addiction. Sue me.

7-Acting helps too. The cast are superb, beginning with Allison Janney. She won a best supporting actress Oscar for I Tonya a few years ago, another nasty mom portrayal.

They have had amazing guests as well, such as Kevin Pollak, Octavia Spencer, Beverley D’angelo, Rosie O’Donnell, Harry Hamlin, Kristin Chenoweth, Ellen Burstyn, and many more.

Let me offer a sample of the show if you’ve never seen it. It’s funny, I wonder how I missed seeing this until this year. I found it just as they did the series finale earlier this month. Oh well… c’est la vie.

Allison Janney as Bonnie is nothing like her oscar-winning portryal of Tonya Harding’s mom.

Here’s a glimpse.

This entry was posted in Cinema, video & DVDs, Music and musicology, My mother, Popular music & culture, Psychology and perception and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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