At least you don’t have to sing John Denver songs.
That is what I would like to tell my family on those days when I am in “a funk”, the random times when I wake up and brushing my teeth seems like such a monumental task that I just roll over and go back to sleep. I am inexplicably, absolutely unjustifiably depressed. And finding out the American credit rating has just been downgraded just about makes me feel like committing suicide.
But then I get over it.
My mother did not have “moments”. She had eras of depression. We are talking huge spans of time where the whole family, including my stepfather, walked on pins and needles around her. Often lasting a week or more, we tried various ways to lift her out of her moods, and never seemed to understand that she just wanted us to leave her the hell alone.
One notable example was right after she left my father. Taking us to a friend’s house in another state under the pretext that we were “visiting”, she immediately burrowed into one of the spare rooms, leaving my sister and me to her friends to supervise (along with their own four children). She remained in that room for a month. We were told that she was very sad.
So, we decided to cheer her up. I had been told at one point that I had a good voice, and after listening to the Little Drummer Boy once too often, I decided it was the only gift I had to offer. We found a book of John Denver lyrics, and set to memorizing his songs to sing for my mother, a huge fan of his work.
Every once in awhile, we would be quietly ushered into her dark bedroom, and our little quartet would serenade my mother with “Country Roads” or “Rocky Mountain High”. I wish I had video of us Jersey girls singing “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.”
Thinking about it now, and having experienced my own periods of hopeless despair, I really can’t imagine what my mother must have been thinking as we stood at the foot of her bed in her darkened, windowless room, and methodically massacred the entire repertoire of her favorite musician. As far as I could tell, it had no discernible effect on her one way or the other.
Whenever I feel guilty about one of my own funks, I console myself with the relative brevity of mine and with the fact that my family has not, so far, felt that they needed to resort to any songbooks in a well-meaning, yet pitiful, attempt to rescue me.
It might be worth it, though, to hear my husband and daughter sing, “We didn’t get much sleep but we had a lot of fun on grandma’s feather bed.”