Sunday, January 11, 2009
Shadows and Masterpiece Theatre
On Sundays, I look forward to watching Masterpiece Theatre all day long. Sometimes, I look forward to watching it all week. If PBS has been showing re-runs all summer, I look forward to watching something new f o r m o n t h s (thank God for Netflix). Tonight, MT is showing the second part of Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. Having read the book, I worry for Tess in tonight's episode-- knowing what happens.
Watching MT is a ritual for me. My mother used to watch it. I watched Pride and Prejudice and Brideshead Revisited and episodes of Mystery with her. I wonder if it had the same hold over her as it does for me? Did she look forward to it with the same anticipation? Did she escape the daily grind of work and school like I do? Did she read novels again after a new production, or did she read old novels for the first time because of something that she saw?
My mother died 19 years ago. Just days after her death, I remember thinking to myself, "She won't be able to watch any more episodes of MT. What if she misses something really, really good?" She didn't get to see Middlemarch or Under the Greenwood Tree or Bleak House or Cranford (my all time favorite).
But, I have to hope that watching MT is just a minute morsel of heaven-- that in dying, she watches all of the MT she wants-- or that she doesn't have to watch it because she suddenly knows and feels everything through God.
When I watch MT, I sense her shadow in me. It is something I do with her-- at least in spirit. And I think, when I see and feel something beautiful or sad or horrifying or real, that she feels all of these things with me and beyond me in ways that I cannot understand.