Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring, kittens and jeans, the best medicine

Selective seratonin re-uptake inhibitors show amazing results, but they can do only so much.

In fact, in my mom's case, I'd put spring, kittens, new jeans and song up against Lexapro any day.

My mom has always suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder, but now in her late 80s, it is getting worse. The doc prescribes Lexapro, an anti-depressant, and it helps, but as soon as we pass the autumn solstice, as soon as the sun begins slipping away by 5 in the afternoon, she will crawl into that protective shell she has fashioned for herself out of--what?--anger? fear? bitterness? necessity?--and stay there for the darkest days of winter.

The good news is that she crawls back out soon after the spring solstice.

When the roses bloom, so does she. To wit:

--Barnie Louise visited her the other day, eliciting laughter and amazement. "Is there anything as darling as a kitten?" she asked, rhetorically, although I kind of hoped she thought her three daughters were darling when they were babies. But we didn't have whiskers. (Those, of course, came in in our 50s and 60s.)

--A new outfit can put a spring in her step. My sister Vicki, bless her, found the ideal pair of new jeans. (Note to self: If I make it to 89, there is such a thing as elastic-waisted, denim pants that are tiny enough for an octo-sprite but large enough in the right places to cover protective undergarments.) Coupled with a bright yellow shirt, she looked like spring itself. "Sometimes," the octo-sprite said, "you just want to wear some jeans so you feel like a person and not an old lady."

--And even if you're an old lady, you're never too old, apparently, to call your other daughter (thank you for being there, Judi) and explain that, indeed, we had just been singing "Bill Grogan's Goat."

"Why?" she said when Judi questioned her. "Well, you know Cathy."

And I know "Bill Grogan's Goat" so I say, why not a hearty rendition of

Bill Grogan's goat
Was feeling fine,
Ate three red shirts
From off the line.

Bill got a stick,
Gave him a whack,
Then tied him to
The railroad track.

The whistle blew,
The train drew nigh,
Bill Grogan's goat,
Was doomed to die.

He gave a groan,
Of awful pain,
Coughed up the shirts,
Flagged down the train

In the spring, life is a cabaret after all.

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