Friday, March 29, 2013

Books of March

I usually post on Mondays but that's April 1, the beginning of my favorite blogging month--the A to Z Challenge.  So here are the books I read this month:

Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell is an absorbing (and brutal) account of the battle of Agincourt, told from the point of view of an archer in Henry V's army.  I love medieval history so I enjoyed this book.
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, a semi-autobiographical novel by Joanne Greenberg recounts the life of Deborah, a girl in a mental hospital.  This is one of my favorite books.  I nominated it for our book club and loved reading it for the umpteenth time.

Of Such Small Differences by Joanne Greenberg is the story of a deaf-blind young man and his love for a sighted, hearing young woman.  Slow moving but beautifully told. 
The Mountaintop is a play that takes place in a hotel room on the last night of Martin Luther King's life.  Interesting and surprising.
Thursdays at Eight by Debbie Macomber is a sweet book about four friends, their lives and loves.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Resources for Widows and Widowers

Please note:  If you're in the Ocala, Florida area, I'll be on the Larry and Robin show on WOCA around 11:00.



Auchard, Betty.  Dancing in My Nightgown:  Stephens Press, 2005

Brothers, Joyce.  Widowed:  Ballantine Books, 1992. 

Caine, Lynn.  Being a Widow.  Penguin, 1990.

Didion, Joan.  The Year of Magical Thinking: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.  Considered the classic memoir of the first year of  widowhood.

Ericsson, Stephanie.  Companion Through the Darkness:  Harper Paperbacks, 1993.  Lyrical musings about widowhood.

Greene, Phyliss.  It Must Have Been Moonglow:  Villard, 2003  I loved this book.  Warm and gentle look at widowhood.

Hall, Donald.  Without:   Mariner Books, 1999. The poet’s unflinching poems about the death of his wife, Jane Kenyon

Hertzler, Janelle Shantz.  Seasons of Solace:  Synergy Books, 2010.

Logelin, Matt.  Two Kisses for Maddy:  Grand Central Publishing.   2011.

Oates, Joyce Carol.  A Widow’s Story:  Ecco.  2011.

Radziwill, Carolyn.  What Remains:  A Story of Fate, Friendship and Love:  Scribner, 2007.

Roiphe, Ann.  Epilogue:   Harper Perennial, 2009.  My favorite.

Sittser, Jerry. A Grace Disguised:  Zondervan, 2004.

Silvera, Jennifer.  Believe:  A Young Widow’s Journey Through Darkness and Back:  Kregel Publications, 2009.

Trillin, Calvin.  About Alice:  Random House, 2006.  The writer’s tribute to his late wife.

Zirkelbach, Thelma.  Mazo Publishing, 2013.  Stumbling Through the Dark

Zirkelbach, Thelma, Haigler, Becky, Robbins, Barbara, Conley, Robyn.  Silver Boomer Books, 2012. On Our Own:  Widowhood for Smarties.  Anthology of prose and poetry about the widowhood experience.



Blair, Pamela and  Noel, Brook.  I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye:  Surviving,    Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One:  Sourcebooks, Inc., 2008.  Also has a related workbook. Unfortunately, the appendix omits the URL of many websites it recommends. 

Ames, Ed.  A Handbook for Widowers: Centering Corporation, 2004

Boyanton Janet.  Alone and Alive:  Shafer Publishing, 2011.

Bridges, William.  The Way of Transition:  Embracing Life’s Most Difficult Moments:  Perseus Publishing, 2001.

Estlund, Annie.  For Widows Only:  Universe, 2003.  Warm, uplifting book filled with helpful information.

Fine, Carla.  No Time to Say Goodbye:  Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One:  Main Street Books, 1999.

Goshen-Gottstein, Esther.  Surviving Widowhood:  Gefen Publishing House, 2002.  Worth reading for the chapter “Climbing Alone” about the everyday issues widows/widowers face.

Greenberg, Genevieve Davis:  Widow to Widow:  Da Capo Press, 1995.  The first book I read on widowhood and one of the best:  thorough and filled with practical advice.
Immerman, Marion.  Immy's Book:  A Guide to Death and Living.  PublishAmerica, 2004.

Neeld, Elizabeth Harper.  Seven Choices:  Finding Daylight After Loss Shatters Your World:  Grand Central Publishing, 2003.

Novak, Pat.  The ABC’s of Widowhood:  First Books Library, 2003.  Entries for every letter of the alphabet, each with a brief paragraph.  Sketchy material, but any book with an entry for Ice cream under “I” is worth a look.

White, Jerry.  I Will Not Be Broken: 5 Steps to Overcoming a Life Crisis:  St. Martin’s Press, 2008.  This young man lost a leg when he stepped on a landmine.  How he got through this tragedy is relevant to any life crisis.

Lost My Partner, What’ll I Do?:  Ruth Spector Webster, M.S.W.  McCormick Press, 1999.  Not one of my favorites.




Attig, Thomas.  How We Grieve:  Oxford University Press, 2010 (2nd edition) Addresses the complexity of grief and change with great insight.

Berger. Susan. The Five Ways We Grieve:    Trumpeter, 2009.  A new way to look at grief, this book presents five different profiles of grievers.  Which one are you?

Hickman, Martha.  Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief:  Harper Paperbacks, 1994. 

Jozefowski, Joanne.  The Phoenix Phenomenon:  Rising from the Ashes of Grief:  Jason Aronson, 1999.

Konigsberg, Ruth Davis.  The Truth About Grief:  The Myth of its Five Stages and the New Science of Loss:  Simon and Schuster, 2011.

Kushner, , Rabbi Harold.  When Bad Things Happen to Good People:  Anchor, 2004.  A classic.  You don’t have to be Jewish to learn from this book.

Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth and Kessler, David.  On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the 5 Stages of  Loss:  Scribner, 2007.

Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth.  On Death and Dying.  Scribner, 1997.

Housden, Roger.  Harmont Books, 2012.  Ten Poems to Say Goodbye

Viorst, Judith.  Necessary Losses:  Simon and Schuster, 1986.  See the chapter on love and mourning.




Bridges, William.  Transitions:  Making Sense of Life’s Changes.  Addison Wesley, 1980.  Bridges works with corporations, but this book also apply to personal life changes.

Bridges, William. “Getting Them Through the Wilderness”   Compares

transition (personal and organizational) to the Exodus from Egypt.

Chodron, Pema.  Getting Unstuck:  Sounds True (audio), 2006.

Chodron, Pema.  When Things Fall Apart: Shambhala, 2000.

Remen, Rachel Naomi  Kitchen Table Wisdom:  Riverhead Trade Books, 2001. Inspirational book for anyone, not just widows/widowers.

Remen, Rachel Naomi.  My Grandfather’s Blessings:  Riverhead Trade Books, 2006



Nuland, Sherwin.  How We Die:   Vintage, 1995.     One of my favorites.  Written with insight and compassion.  See also, How We Live.

Hablitzel, William.  Dying is the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me:  Sunshine Ridge Publishing, 2006.  Written by a doctor, stories of courage in the face of death.  See also, 12 Secrets for Healing and It was Only a Moment Ago

Lieberman, Susan.  Death, Dying and Dessert.  To be released in May 2013

Markova, Dawna. I Will Not Die an Unlived Life:  Conari Press, 2000.

Jenkins, Margie.  You Only Die Once:  2002.

Williams-Murphy, Monica and Murphy, Kris.  It’s Okay to Die.  Available from  Their newsletter can also be sent to your email.  Questions about your end-of-life wishes to discuss with your loved ones. Five wishes about end-of-life to discuss with your loved ones.  Highly recommended. 

HELPFUL WEBSITES: Membership gets you computer help (Of course, if your computer isn’t working, you can’t get to the site!)  Networking, discussions, etc. for people 50 and over

www.seniorsonline Links to all kinds of useful websites  Chats, information and yearly meeting at Camp Widow   Discussion groups, quotations, links  Discussions, widow match, conference


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Quote for the Week: If You Knew by Ellen Bass

What if you knew you'd be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm,
brush your fingertips
along the lifeline's crease.

When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn't signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won't say, "Thank you," I don't remember
they're going to die.

A friend of mine told me she'd been with her aunt.
They'd just had lunch, and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt's powdered cheek when they left.
They walked half a block, and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.

How close does the dragon's spume
have to come?  How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Quotes for the Week: Spring

Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn. ~Quoted by Lewis Grizzard in Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You
It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. ~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow. ~Proverb

Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush. ~Doug Larson

Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day. ~W. Earl Hall

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. ~Anne Bradstreet

You can't see Canada across lake Erie, but you know it's there. It's the same with spring. You have to have faith, especially in Cleveland. ~Paul Fleischman

Under the... snow blossoms a daring spring. ~Terri Guillemets

First a howling blizzard woke us,
Then the rain came down to soak us,
And now before the eye can focus —
Crocus. ~Lilja Rogers

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Birth of a Memoir: Part 5 Into the World

Well, it's finally here.  My publisher was wonderful to work with and he managed to get it out within a few months.  I hope you'll take a look.  It's up on Amazon and on Barnes & Noble and is available both in paperback and as an e-book.  And if you read and like it, add a review on either of those websites.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Books of February

Degree of Guilt by Richard North Patterson.  I've read many of Patterson's books and enjoyed most of them.  This wasn't his best but it was still good.  It concerns an attorney who defends his former lover, who is accused of murdering a famous author.  Patterson, a former attorney, knows how to portray courtroom scenes.  This story has a lot of twists and turns that keep it interesting.
Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman.  Klosterman is best known for essays about pop culture.  This quirky novel takes place in a small town in North Dakota and is written from three points of view:  a high school senior, an elderly widower and a first year teacher.  I enjoyed it.  It's a quick read and most of it is very funny.
Happy reading!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Quote for the Week: To Know the Dark

Early in my widowhood I came upon a poem by Wendell Berry called To Know the Dark.  It touched me deeply and I embraced the third line and repeated it to myself many times.  It reminds me that there is beauty even in our dark times, joy even in our pain.  

To go into the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark, go without sight
And find that dark, too, blooms and sings
And is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Crime and Punishment

There is a dead body in my driveway.  I can look out my kitchen window and see it covered with a white tarp.  Actually it’s a foot or two from my driveway, next to my neighbors’ air conditioner.  

Strange to think that I’m standing in my kitchen eating an apple and watching crime scene investigators hovering around what looks like a large lump on the grass.  Strange to look out my front door and see one of those yellow crime scene tapes you see on TV fastened around the trunk of my tree. Stranger still, I’m sure, for my next door neighbor to come home to this.

A helicopter drones overheard.  The police are taking dozens of pictures and discussing on which side of the property line the shooting occurred.  Channel 13 has rung my doorbell, asking if I would like to come out and talk to them on camera.  No.

It, “the incident, ” happened around 4:00.  I was in the room I use for speech therapy, working with a child when I heard two loud crashes.  Never having been around guns, I didn’t recognize gunshots.  To me it sounded like bombs being dropped on my house.  “Just a minute,” I said to the kid and rushed to my front door.  I went outside to find a police car blocking my drive, two others across the street and half a dozen police officers in my yard.

 “What happened?” I called.

“Go back inside,” one of them yelled, and I did.

I finished my therapy session and returned to the front door, this time to see the crime scene tape, police cars up and down the street and probably twenty officers milling around.  After being assured that it was safe for the child and his nanny to leave, I ventured into the yard.  One of the police officers came over and explained that a man on a bicycle had stolen a woman’s purse in a neighborhood across the Loop.  “He took off on his bike, got as far as West Bellfort, ditched the bike and ran into this neighborhood.”

Meyerland?  My safe, constable-protected neighborhood?

“The police chased him to your neighbor’s house.  He grabbed a pair of scissors from the woman’s bag and refused to drop them.  Instead he threw his jacket in the face of a police officer and then lunged at him with the scissors.  So the officer shot him.”

“And he’s…dead?”

“Yes, ma’am.   We’ll be here a while until the medical examiner takes a look at him,” he said, then added, “We’re sorry to inconvenience you.”

Is a dead person an inconvenience? I wondered as I trudged back inside.  I’ve spent the rest of the day in and out of the kitchen, peering out the window and watching the crowd gathering in my driveway.

 Uniformed officers.  Why are so many still here?  How many does it take to wait for the coroner’s office?  Why aren’t they out catching other criminals?

Men in suits have arrived.  They look like Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in the movie “Men in Black.”  Two have come to my door at separate times to take my “statement.”  No, I didn’t see the suspect.  Yes, I heard two shots.  I have to give my birthdate?  Geez.

“Was he a teenager?” I asked.

“He looks a little older.  We can’t move him or look for identification.  He belongs to the medical examiner now.”

What a bizarre way to put it, I thought.  It makes him sound like a package.  When the police captain left, I tried to make sense of this.  A few hours ago that man was alive, then he committed a petty crime and it’s all over.  Couldn’t the officer have shot him in the leg?  Was he a kid playing a prank, a gang member wanting money for drugs, a homeless man who was desperate for a few dollars?  Doesn’t matter now.  His life is over…and all for a measly purse.

Did the cop fear for his life?  Did the punishment fit the crime?

Please share your comments.


Epilogue:  The neighbor across the street has brought a rose bush to be planted where the man died.  I drove to a nearby nursery and bought one, too.





Friday, March 1, 2013

March 1, 2013: Ralph's birtrhday

Today would have been Ralph’s 73rd  birthday. 

I remember near the end of his life, when some work was being done on the freeway near our house, thinking “Ralph will miss seeing these changes.  They’ll be here and he won’t know.”

How the world has changed in the 7 ½ years he’s been gone.  Not just the freeway; he’s missed a lot of things.  Family milestones:  Gabriella becoming a teenager, her Bat Mitzvah.  Technology changes::  IPads, texting, Skype, Siri (my new best friend), HD television, hybrid cars. World events:  the first African American president, the tea party movement, the Arab spring, gay marriage, the resignation of Pope Benedict.  Personalities:  Sara Palin,  Kate Middleton,  Gabby Giffords, Tim Tebow, Kim Kardashian, (going downhill now)  Honey Boo Boo.  Sports scandals:  Lance Armstrong, Roger Clemens, Mante Teo, the New Orleans Saints’ bounty program.  Tragedies in Haiti, Japan, Aurora, Newtown and at Penn State.  

Even though he’s not here, the world keeps turning.  What would he make of all that he’s missed?  I know we’d discuss these people and events and put our own different spins on them.

What I miss is him.

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