This novel begins in a psychologist’s office where a young, exceedingly unattractive woman says she is there because her mother’s dying wish is for her to see a therapist about her weight. The therapist asks Barb Colby if her mother is dying. “No, it’s an early request,” she answers.
A half hour later, Barb strips down to reveal that she’s been wearing a grey wig, false teeth and a fat suit. One of her dear friends committed suicide a couple years before because he fell in love with her on account of her beauty. Now Barb does all she can to conceal it.
The sound of a projector is heard as an old 8mm home movie is projected on to a screen. They show a young father playing with his children, making faces at the camera, laughing and enjoying his life. The camera pulls back behind an older couple watching the film from their couch. Then a close up. The older man is biting his upper lip then asks, “Who is that?” “That’s you honey” comes the reply. A pause then, “Oh, there I am.” And he laughs. Another pause, “Who’s that with me?” “That’s your daughter. Your first daughter Debbie.” And so begins this 2014 documentary on the life of Glen Campbell, now in his 70’s, struggling with Alzheimer’s and preparing to go on one last farewell tour. Read more about Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.
In our death-phobic culture, most of us need all the help we can get planning for our own and our loved ones’ deaths. This excellent guide, rich with examples, and a good smattering of humor gives just that—an overview of how to prepare for both the practical and spiritual aspects of dying.
Donna Schaper, who is also a minister, opens the book with “The Best Funeral Ever.” She shares funerals and memorials from actual people she knew and helped.
She describes the deceased and makes clear that their wishes should be followed. She closes this chapter with a eulogy she wrote for a feisty friend, Anita, who told the police she would keep driving, no matter what they said, and insisted that no one sing hymns at her service.
In a later chapter on bad funerals, she relates that mistakes happen. For one of the services she conducted, instead of the music the bereaved requested, she carelessly played a classical work left in the CD player. The widow never noticed the switch, and said later, that the music made her feel better during the funeral. Read more about Approaching the End of Life: a Practical and Spiritual Guide
My family and I lived for five years in the North American rainforest of Southeast Alaska. In those days, it rained over three hundred days a year. To this day my children prefer a rainy day to one filled with sun. That’s one reason why this book called out to me.
It’s a compendium of archaeological, historical, and scientific facts about our most common precipitation. Also, included in it are a series of mini-biographies of people who are renowned for some connection to rain.
One of these includes Princess Anne of Denmark who tried vainly several time to sail to Scotland to marry her fiancé, King James VI. Violent storms blew her back to the Nordic regions twice. This was in August, 1589 during the time known as The Little Ice Age. King James VI eventually enlisted his navy to take him north to marry her. Read more about Rain: a natural and cultural history
I like jokes that are somewhat dry in their delivery—jokes delivered so straight they take just a couple of seconds to register. Though Support Your Local Sheriff has its share of comedy pratfalls, it’s also filled with James Garner’s brand of straight, matter-of-fact delivery. Read more about Support Your Local Sheriff
You might recall Elizabeth Alexander—she read the poem at President Obama’s first inauguration. This memoir by the prize-winning poet covers a much more private, interior space. It tells the story of her love, marriage and family, and especially the jagged rent in her life caused by her husband’s death.
The first chapter queries where the actual story begins. Is it the beautiful April morning in Hamden, Connecticut when Ficre Ghebreyesus returns to his younger son Simon’s trundle bed, saying, “This is the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in.”? Is it when Ficre ran out of the house to buy three dozen lottery tickets on a hunch, wanting the win the lottery for Elizabeth? Or is it way back in ’61 when two women on opposite sides of the earth become pregnant, one carrying a first-born girl, another carrying a later-born son?
The couple met in a New Haven coffee shop; Ficre came over and introduced himself. He was a chef who had escaped from war-torn Eritrea, Africa at age sixteen. He became a refugee in Sudan, Germany, Italy and finally, the States. Torn from his family for many years, he ended up in New Haven and in the 90s began painting.