LIFE LESSON # 437
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!