The All Night Television

My mother and both my uncles lived alone at the end of their lives.

My aunt, their only surviving sister, lives alone now, in a condo in Colorado.

They all had (or have, in the case of my aunt) an interesting habit. (I’m going to talk about this in the past tense, since my aunt is the minority in the “alive” category) 

They all tended to fall asleep with the television on.  All of them slept in their bedrooms; they had televisions they could view from their beds.

I’m not sure what the subject matter was for my uncles. They seemed to just want the sound on, so the channels would be prattling on when morning came.

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My aunt and my mother favored news stories about World War II.  My mother and all her siblings thought fondly of that time. For them,  the war years harkened back to a sense of family and national “pulling together”, of youth, of dancing with the boys, of brothers coming home. My uncles coming back relatively unscathed made it all easier to enjoy, no doubt.

When my father married my mother, he also brought memories of being a star reporter from a Chicago paper. When he signed up, he was given assignment as a photographic subject and a Naval officer.  “Here’s one of our young lads having his hair cut before he ships out!” “Here’s one of our boys on a rare opportunity to attend the movies with a lucky girl in uniform!” reads the captions on the photos.  My father served on a supply ship in the South Pacific that never saw any substantial “action”, either. I’m not sure if he even knew anyone who died in the war, at least not directly.

So late at night, my mother and her sister listened to war documentaries.  And remembered the past.

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I’m falling into this late night TV pattern too, and I’m not sure what to think of it.   I don’t have the “war times” to reminisce about, but I lose myself in my old favorites..Star Trek episodes that have been with me my whole life, documentaries about my beloved Beatles. I follow my mother’s pattern, not just leaving the TV to prattle on for the sound like my uncles seemed to.  Somehow, though, the familiar voices of imaginary friends comfort me.  I know what William Shatner sounds like, and I’ve heard those Beatles songs a thousand times, maybe more than that.  

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I have more recent favorites..the new Dr. Who. Those new writers understand the implications of changing into someone else, too, damn them. Makes me cry. It’s easier, and more boring, to watch the old cheesy episodes..they put me to sleep now.

I know I’m lonely. That’s the title of the blog, after all.  I need something new, and don’t know what it is.  I shrink from attachments, because they go away. I’m studying George Harrison, and Dr. Who, because everything must end.  And paradoxically, I can see them over and over, and they never go away.

I can’t even tell if this habit leaves me in permanent grief or helps. I’ve lost sense of it.  I know I may need something new, and I both want it and don’t.

 

The war. Your childhood. The child raising years. Friendships, and marriages-even the good ones end too, because someone will die eventually.

The sound from the television, what I choose to watch, both teaches me and lulls me to sleep with the false impression that i haven’t lost anyone. They’re all still out there in cyberspace, in TV land, on a distant planet, or on a real Earth in a time that I can’t even remember.

 

 

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