December 1, 2016 (Thursday)

by Yule Heibel on November 30, 2017

December. How did that happen? It’s already nine o’clock, too. This morning I walked with W. in the crisp, rainwashed sunshine, sparkling, to the Depot. Crisp, still, although we’re expecting temperatures to reach the mid-50s today …which is pretty damn crazy. Took that walk because yesterday I didn’t get out of the house once: the heavens opened by 10:30 or 11am when it started to rain, eventually turning into intermittent deluges.

Yesterday I watched two episodes (the first two) of Maude. It’s uncanny how those Norman Lear 1970s shows are still so topical. The political polarization, the problem(s) of the (tall) strong and opinionated woman (okay, the obnoxious, flawed, but also deeply human woman) trying to find her voice, her relationship with her own daughter, and her relationship with her (dead) mother. That latter bit was what Season 1, Episode 1 was all about: Maude’s relationship with Carol, her daughter. There were a number of things I could relate to: Carol is secretly seeing a psychiatrist because she’s trying to work through her own (undefined/ unspecified in the episode) anxieties / depressions around her own childhood, which obviously involve her mother (Maude), too. The only real hint we’re given is that Carol can’t recall anything from her childhood from the age of three to ten – a total of seven years.

This mortifies Maude when she manages to confront and manipulate Carol into spilling the beans, and I have to say it really startled me, too. A hallmark of one of my offspring, despite an astonishing IQ and a generally very high level of sanity, is an inability to remember large swaths of childhood. In contrast, the other offspring seems to remember everything, and it’s mostly good (or at least useful) and sometimes great. The two seem at opposite ends of a spectrum somehow.

In this episode of Maude, the question whether the inability to recall childhood events is a psychiatric symptom or not is left unanswered. Carol’s amnesia instead serves more as a foil for Maude’s punchline near the end. She goes to confront the psychiatrist and instead ends up being his patient (at least for the day), when he starts to probe her about her (domineering) mother. When she returns home, late, wearing sunglasses because she has been crying (same as Carol at the episode’s beginning), she eventually blurts out that she remembered everything. That’s the punchline, for laughs, but not for clarification of why children forget. Where – from what – does this amnesia stem? Several times during the episode, I really identified with Maude’s shock. In a way, Carol, by not recalling, erased her mother. Why does this happen? My memories of my mother are also shockingly incomplete and intermittent (very unlike Maude, more like Carol). I can’t say there’s a continuous presence – she pops into view on or in specific episodes in my life, some of which are separated by many years, veritable lacunae in between with no memory of her whatsoever.

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