Saturday, July 28, 2007

Two Posts Today


Widowhood, being separated or divorced are not infectious diseases.

You will not “catch” these conditions by speaking with someone who occupies such a status in life.

You need not duck, turn away or flee when noting the presence of such a person in your general vicinity. Nor must you quickly move on after a brief “Hello.”

News flash. The person no more wants to talk about “it” than you do. Hell, they’re living it. Enough is enough. Why would they want to discuss it in the middle of a grocery aisle, on a neighbourhood sidewalk – or anywhere??

Fortunately (or unfortunately) I learned of this phenomenon at a young age. When my father died, my mother was summarily “dumped” by many acquaintances or so-called friends. The woman across the street never spoke with her again.

I’m experiencing it now.

I may understand where it’s coming from (fear, comfort levels, the awkward pity factor and the most ridiculous one of all – hey, I might steal your man!!) but it’s not a pleasant experience.

When someone is attempting to get their life back to normal (a new normal) being shunned doesn’t help.

Nasty Beth instinctively responds with an (unspoken), “F**k you.”

Sweet Beth (yeah, Dan and Diesel, she does exist) feels sorry for these people. There’s got to be some guilt there.

While not infectious, you may one day find yourself occupying one of these roles. Odds are you will. They’re part of life.

If you do and we are still acquaintances (hell, even if at that point in time we’re not) I will stop and talk with you. It just might help and it certainly won’t hurt – either of us.

(To all my “other” friends – a big thank you for “being there.”)


Janice Kulyk Keefer’s The Ladies’ Lending Library is a great summer read.

The story evoked memories of summers I spent at cottages as a child – those seemingly endless days whose repetition soothed and delighted a child’s soul. During those times, I occasionally caught glimpses of the drama going on in the adult world around me. Glimpses only – I never really understood what was going on. When you’re a child, the world revolves around you.

Keefer’s novel provides insight into both the adult and the children’s lives at a summer cottage compound frequented by a number of Ukrainian Canadian families. This is a close-knit group whose lives intertwine – and this closeness both comforts and chafes.

The events which unfold during this summer of 1963 will cause profound changes – some dreams shatter, some are renewed and others begin.

I loved reading about the daily lives of the children – swimming, sunbathing, visits to the corner candy store, reading comics, afternoon quiet times, adventures concocted – all of which I once did.

However, I now relate far more to the lives of the mothers – the group who form The Ladies’ Lending Library. This “library” provides these women with the opportunity to exchange forbidden, racy books, take a much-needed break from the children and draw strength from one another.

During the early 60’s, women’s lives were far more circumscribed. Choices were limited. A “good” marriage was expected – love did not necessarily enter into the equation. While some women were grateful to be in such marriages, others felt trapped. Thus, frustration, unhappiness and unfilled longing became a part of their lives. (And reading those racy books provided an education into a world of sexual gratification some of these women had never experienced.)

Engaging and sympathetic characters (both adult and child), realistic dialogue, a fascinating plot (and subplots) all make this novel a pleasure to read. It’s an easy read but by no means a light one.

Wherever you read it – at the beach, on the dock, at home – enjoy.

And have a great (rest of the) summer!


megan said...

Great book - thanks for lending it to me. Re: Life Lesson #347 - where was I for the first 346 lessons? And yeah, sometimes peoples' reactions are bizarre - as you know, I'm more of the f**k you mentality. They're not real friends, and unlike you, I'm not 'sweet' enough to feel sorry for them. Maybe that's why everyone likes you more!!!!nah, nah, nah, nah, nah..........

lynn said...

But then there are the ghouls who immediately ask "why?" and shun you when you fail to provide the correct answer ofr devulge all the "gory" details. Disheartening either way.

Mom of Three said...

The crises in life are what separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to your friends. When a life change happens, it's a great time to whittle down to the quality people. If you're like me, you don't have enough time for the most fabulous people in your sense in wasting time with those who don't truly appreciate your wonderfulness--in sickness AND in health!

oreneta said...

I have corn in my teeth, and I had to wait to stop chawing on a cob before I could type...Oh so summery....that sound's like a fantastic book...and that thing with folks treating you like a pariah???OK, that so stinks..Glad both nice Beth and nasty Beth are on duty. Sounds like a good balance..

Beth said...

Those reactions? Bizarre and predictable. But not necessary.
(BTW - as to where you were for those first "346" Life Lessons? Remedial math classes. This was Life Lesson # 437.)

Good point. But don't you feel more in control of the situation with those people who ask "Why?" It's up to me as to what I say.
But not such good friends - either way.

Very good advice - and a positive way of looking at it.

Corn in your teeth - and butter on the keyboard?

It's too bad "Nasty Beth" is getting more ice time lately. (Like my hockey metaphor?)

oreneta said...

Yup, there was butter on the keyboard...and it is a machine from work (oops) the kids were talking mornfully of going ice skating just I do indeed enjoy your hockey metaphor...did your boys play?

Anonymous said...

Beth, No other way around it, it really sucks that your mother was treated like that and I am so sorry you are getting treated like that. I just don't get people and their fears or people who take comfort in the unhappiness of others. Sadly, this tells you who your real friends are, but what a painful way to find out. I wish it didn't have to be like that.

Thanks for the book suggestion, again. I love books and this one sounds like something I would really love. I am going to check it out right now.

psychgrad said...

I've written a few posts wondering about this type of behaviour. I still don't have a clear understanding of why this happens. I know the general sentiment is "they weren't true friends to begin with". I just think there's something more to it. Believing that they weren't good friends to begin with makes the rejection/loss of support a bit less personal, but I don't think it fully explains their behaviour.

Sorry - not the most uplifting comment. It's just a topic that gets me going. I don't like not being able to understand human behaviour.

Beth said...

Butter and a wee bit of salt as well?
Two out of three boys played hockey.
(So did I!)

On the "up side" I really never considered these people good friends - more like neighbourhood acquaintances.
Hope you enjoy the book.

I think this kind of behaviour stems from fear, insecurity and a sense of discomfort in the presence of someone who is "different." And while it isn't mature or "nice" behaviour, I also think it's a normal human reaction. (Or is so common it has become part of the norm.)

Beth said...

awww I need to kick someone's ass for bothering you...cuz I will.

"Leave my girl alone asshole!"

You're gonna be just. fine.

Beth said...

Yeah, come on up here and kick some ass! (I'd love to see you.)

I'll be fine - I am fine.

cipriano said...

Of Blog Portion #1:
See Beth, I know that you can not possibly be talking about ME here, because I INVITED you to a great party, and you did not accept!

Of Blog Portion #2:
All I can say is... I myself am a Ukrainian Canadian.
It's not blood, but BORSCHT, circulating through me!

Beth said...

You left clues as to a great party and I discovered them too late!
But thanks for the invite.

Borscht for blood, eyeballs in a different postal code and three nip - ...I'll stop right here. What a fine human specimen you are!

Diesel said...

My brother in law died not too long ago, and there were several people who gave to his memorial fund who were apparently put out because they didn't get a thank you card from the widow.

Classy, huh?

Beth said...

Yeah, real classy 'cause the grief and loss were all about them, right?
I hope your sister (sister-in-law?) didn't hear about that ridiculous behaviour.
And I'm sorry for her (and your) loss.