As you may have guessed, I have recently become obsessed with “Murder, She Wrote.” I discovered the show during Groundhog’s Day weekend when I was too drunk to sleep. I had a house full of people and didn’t want to turn the TV on, so I browsed the instant (just add water) movies and shows. I had just watched a Columbo episode with Leonard Nimoy as the killer and it really freaked me out. Talk about a cold hearted snake. Nimoy was almost too clinical of a killer. Also, Columbo used the murder weapon found at the scene to crack the shell on his hard boiled egg breakfast. I guess that makes him a hard-boiled detective. Anyway, it was creepy on so many levels, I decided to abandon Columbo and find something else to watch.
Netflix said, that if I enjoyed Columbo, I’d probably enjoy MSW. So, I took the recommendation and settled in to a 5 a.m. viewing. I started with season 1 and boy was it corny. But I remember Doc saying it was a show his mother enjoyed. Sadly, Doc’s mother walked on in 2003. As I watched the show, I felt this sort of warm feeling. My MIL and I didn’t always see eye to eye, which is typical of MIL relationships, I would guess. But watching this show made me remember things I’d forgotten about Mary.
Isn’t memory a funny thing? Some people like to listen to music to bring back the old days. Others might travel back in time through photo albums or journals. I am probably the least nostalgic person I know. I don’t like to relive the past. I prefer to play out the possibilities of my future instead of probing the painful past for memories and rolling them around in my mind like some kind of mental Jolly Rancher. Recently, however, I’ve learned the value of memory. Now that so many of my nearest and dearest have either left town or left this mortal coil, I try to look for memories to tie me to them.
It starts with dreams. I see them in my dreams. If they’ve passed away, I talk to them, but they don’t talk back to me. I cling to those dreams and the feeling that they were nearby again. I also recall what they liked and try to bring whatever it is into my life, even if it’s not really my cup of tea, just so I can be close to that person for a little while. Like watching Murder, She Wrote to bring my MIL back.
The interesting thing with MSW is that, when the show was on the air, I was probably totally outside of the demographic market. I was in high school and college at the time. CBS was in full-blown “Celebrate the Elderly” mode and it didn’t really speak to me. But as I watch now, I get a comforting feeling that I am watching MSW and experiencing some of the same reactions Mary may have had when she watched it.
Sometimes I try to think what Mary might have thought about what was going on. I don’t know. It makes me feel better. In my heart, I know I kept Doc’s parents at arms’ length. In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t. Doing things or experiencing things they enjoyed, I feel like I’m opening my heart to them for real. Perhaps, it’s too late and I’m closing the barn door after the horses got away. But you have to close that door at some point, don’t you? Even if the horses never come back.
But now, watching MSW is no longer an exercise in nostalgia for times that never were. But rather I’ve come to really enjoy it. I’ve found a connection to Jessica Fletcher. I’ve also found a role model in her. She’s a successful writer who travels the world and people invite her to become involved in whatever important task they have in front of them. That’s what I want to be. Even more so, though, I like the sweet way that she doesn’t take shit from anyone. She has no problem calling people on their lies in such a way that makes the liar fell like she deeply cares for him or her. It’s remarkable.
I typically prefer to assume if you look me in the eye and say something, that you’re telling me the truth. But as I’ve aged, I know that people can’t be telling the truth all the time. I like to pick my battles, but in the past, I’ve felt unarmed, not able to tell when I was on the business end of a snow job or not. But now, I have developed my instincts and I can tell when someone isn’t being completely honest. I still struggle with the confrontation part, but with Jessica’s help, I think I have gathered a vocabulary for calling bullshit without being mean.
So forgive me if in the very near future, I put my nose where it doesn’t belong or call you on your bullshit. It’s only because I love you and I want to be a part of your life, while we are both still here to enjoy it together.