Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Leaving Time...or is it Time to Leave?


Have you read Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult? I probably shouldn’t be discussing the book in public on the chance that someone reading this has it sitting in their to-read stack. But I can’t help it. I just finished it last night and book club is a week away and I want to sort out my reactions to it. I read a few reviews this morning to see how they handled the plot twist in the last forth of the book and none of them gave away the fact that---spoiler alert!---the characters you think are alive are actually ghosts and the character/s you think are dead are not. For most of the book you think you’re reading an interesting mystery of sorts about a 13 year old girl who wants to find out why her mother ran off ten years ago and she gets a down-and-out private detective and a has-been TV psychic to help her.

The story line of the book takes place mostly at an elephant sanctuary and the mother was a researcher studying the grieving habits of elephants. I love elephants. I mean I REALLY love them! I have an elephant bell sitting four feet away from me as I type. I follow the Elephant Listening Project on Facebook. I donate to elephant causes so I was racing through this book like it was on fire. All the main characters were extremely interesting…until the big reveal and then I felt let down, disappointed. Cheated. I wanted a happy ending, not one that opens up a bigger can of worms to sort out. Jodi Picoult is a good writer and her research about the elephants was spot on and, sure, the mystery got solved by the end of the book. BUT I don’t believe in ghosts. At least 95% of me doesn’t believe in ghosts. Jodi via way of the psychic character had some interesting things to say about our after-lives for lack of a better way to describe the supposed spirits milling around our space after leaving our time.

After closing the book last night I said out loud, “Okay, Don, if you’re a ghost you’d better come by and haunt me tonight.” And he did! It wasn’t a pleasant dream that made me wake up smiling and trying to hold on to that haziness as long as possible. Nope. I woke up in a panic. I’d been running from an elephant chasing me and Don was on a motorcycle behind the elephant driving him to me. I remember my dreams often enough that I have the dream dictionary bookmarked on my computer and this is what I found: “Dreaming of an elephant coming towards you at an unstoppable speed means that you are going to face a situation that you cannot control. You have to let things be and wish that it will all work out in the end.” I’m guessing the “situation I can’t control” is the fact that I’m going to die one day and I’m really not in the mood to go any time soon. And I don’t even want to guess why I dreamed that Don was herding the elephant in my direction. 

Change of topic: The next morning I loaded up the back of my Chevy Trax with things left over from my recent redecorating project. I had so much stuff the back bumper was dragging on the ground. A slight exaggeration, but it was a big load that included eight sets of sheets for twin beds. I had sets in red, black, and gray---prints, solids, flannel and jersey. I didn’t even know I had so many sets stuck on the top shelf of my closet. I also took a whole trash bag full of towels sets in the same colors and two boxes full of stuff I knew if I didn’t get them out of the house right away, I’d be tempted to keep them in the garage until they grew roots. I set aside all the framed photographs I had in my bedroom with plans to hang them on the pegboard wall in the garage where my husband’s collection of gas station memorabilia was displayed. Why not? These are my people. I’ll see them more often in the garage than I will if I un-frame them and put the photos in albums.

After dropping off my loot at Goodwill I headed north five miles to the tourist town where my husband grew up and my Mad Hatters Society sisters meet the first Wednesday of every month. But I was a half hour early so I back-tracked a couple of blocks to make an early visit at the cemetery---I usually don't go until May. I had dug the sod out around Don’s tombstone last fall and I was surprised to see the ‘ditch’ filled up with pine cones and pine needles still attached to small branches. Holy crap, that pine sap is sticky! I’d forgotten about that. It was a common childhood curse at the cottage where we kids played cowboys and Indians in the woods behind the lake. Back then, mom used gasoline to get pine pitch off our skin and out of our hair. I wasn’t about to try to get some gas out of my Chevy Trax so I tried the only liquid I had in the car besides water---Windex. To my shock, it took the pine sap off my fingers.

When I left the cemetery I told my husband---just in case he does happen to be a ghost and was hanging around---that I’m not speaking to him until he apologizes for trying to get me trampled by an elephant which, by the way, is how someone in the Leaving Time book died. But for a while, you're really not sure which character it was who got her head crushed under the elephant's foot. ©

33 comments:

  1. I think I'd feel tricked if I learned near the end of the book that the characters I'd thought were alive were really dead all along. I get it that some books call for a not-so-happy ending or even loose ends (which I hate), but I am a sucker for a happy ending. Especially in the last few years, I've come to appreciate that there's a place for lighter fare, escapism, and anything that can take me away from the daily Trumping of our world.

    I have a thing for elephants, too. I like how cooperative they are, how the females help each other with their calves. At times, they are more civilized than us. That photo at the top is so cute.

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    1. I haven't read a lot of Jodi's books---she's written a lot---but I don't believe she's known for tricking readers like that. I love her 'My Sister's Keeper.' I think after writing 22 books she probably got board with straight out plots.

      This book was packed with elephant facts and research and I will always love the book for that.

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  2. Not a book I would even consider reading!
    I will keep the windex suggestion in mind though!
    Regards
    Leze

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    1. It was a great book until the plot twist and there was no indication on the cover or summary that it was going to turn so far off the realm of most people's belief systems.

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  3. Good for you, making the timely decision to donate all those useful linens. I just donated another two bags and a box to the Vietnam Vets, and it always feels terrific to unload more stuff.

    My usual dream about Not Having Control is being in a speeding car that I cannot steer or brake, either on a hill with switchback curves or in a parking lot full of cars. Terrifying.

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    1. Common and straight forward dreams but scary none the less. My repetitive dreams have to do for searching for the right door in a hallway or alley of doors, also a common dream.

      My Red Hat Society chapter used to put boxes together at Christmas time for Vietnam Vets who live on the streets. Such a shame of our country that we can't take care of our own.

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    2. P.S. I'm going back the Goodwill today to see if I can buy back a table covering I shouldn't have donated. I forgot what I used it for in the summers and I'd never be able to find another like it, it's from Mexico.

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  4. I wish I knew what I was dreaming about. The only thing I know when I wake up it's either feeling great or my heart is racing. Man I wish I knew what they were.
    When I left the cemetery I told my husband---just in case he does happen to be a ghost and was hanging around---that I’m not speaking to him until he apologizes for trying to get me trampled by an elephant, I love your humour Jean. I think I'd better get to the mausoleum and have a talk with my parents about what's going on in my life. LOL See ya my friend.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. I see a lot of people at the cemetery talking to their loved ones, you'd fit right in, Paul.

      One of the more infamous dreams I ever had was one that my husband was having an an affair. I woke so mad at him and we had a fight over it. It seems so real! I wanted to know who she was, of course, to which he said something like, "How an I supposed to know! She's in your head, not mine!" And that ended the fight.

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    2. I guess no man win in a situation like that. He's sleeping and doesn't enjoy the affair because it's not his dream and when he wakes up he's gets hell because his wife had the dream. I felt for Don. LOL Have a great Dream tonight Jean.

      Cruisin Paul

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  5. I do like Jodi and will see if my library has the book. I will try to forget your reveals:)) I would like to believe in ghosts, just have never had a meeting--that I am aware of.
    Try to work on sweeter dreams tonight.

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    1. If I didn't have to turn it back in to book club, I would read the book again. I think she probably left bread crumbs along that way that I didn't pick up on as to the plot twist, but in all the online discussions I read, no one saw that coming. When it comes time to give it a grade I'll probably say A- or B+.

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  6. I love her books because I start out having an opinion and by the end of the book, I’m torn.

    Good for you to TAKING the stuff to donation. The one time I used an organizer ... that was the part I liked the best! They bag and take away. It’s a weekly thing here. Kate has been cleaning out closets and removing items that no longer fit the boys. Currently sitting in bags and boxes and laundry baskets ... in the living room!

    So many family members and friends love elephants. My first date with Mr Ralph was a trip to the zoo. The patriarch was noisy and his apparatus was at the ready. The females were inside walking in circles moaning. Then he began to bang his head on the door. A bit embarrassing but we had to laugh!

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    1. You're right about Jodi's books! Hadn't thought of them that way but it's true.

      I went back to the Goodwill today to try to buy something back. I'll write about it later, I think. With kids, it's easy to de-clutter. they out grow toys and clothes so quickly.

      That would be embarrassing for a first date. Could you feel their rumblings/vocalizations in your chest? Some people can.

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  7. I love elephants too and belong to the African Wildlife Federation which works to protect them, but I will skip this book. I joined a book discussion group on April 2, so will be discovering authors new to me, rather fun.

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  8. I would never had read this book if I had known about the ghost and it wasn't required for my club, but I'm glad I did. Hope you enjoy your book club.

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  9. Just catching up on your blog. Congrats on finishing your bedroom project! Bummer about the wrongly donated table cover from Mexico - hope they give it back rather than make you pay for your own stuff.

    I like Jodi Picoult's books - they reinforce, for me, that the world is not black and white, but a lot of greys. The elephant book seems to not be her usual style.

    Libby

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    1. Welcome back, Libby. Jodi is a smart writer/researcher. She knows how peel back the layers of what makes people tick.

      I will be more than happy to pay for my table cover when/if it comes on the floor for sale. Goodwill does a lot of good in the community. It's an ugly table covering, so I don't think it will get snapped up quickly. It's a lesson learned that I can't be so quick to jump on the downsizing wagon that I don't use my head, especially about seasonal things. Goodwill is close by so I can stop often over the next couple of weeks.

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  10. Hah! Your Windex story reminds of the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where Windex is some kind of wonder drug that cures everything. That book sounds similar in premise to a movie that came out a few years ago - The Sixth Sense - about a kid who sees dead people. I'm going to check it out - I actually like those kind of stories. Another book of a similar vein is Lincoln in the Bardo, which I highly recommend. A lot of people didn't like the book or how it is written (it makes you work, damnit!), but I loved it, and its message.
    Thanks Jean.

    Deb

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    1. Leaving Time would make an interesting movie. Some of her books have been made into major feature films.

      I went to a book talk given by a librarian who couldn't say enough good things about Lincoln in Bardo. She's one of the most interesting lecturer I've ever heard. I wouldn't read it because I don't like books with dozens of characters that come in and don't appear again. The Friendship Bread---I think that's its name---was like that. Drove me crazy. But anyone who likes ghost stories shouldn't miss reading that book.

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    2. P.S. I don't think the fact that I revealed the plot twist should spoil the book for anyone. I think it might even make it more fun to see if you can pick up on clues Jodi must have left along the way that I didn't see coming.

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  11. Well, it doesn't sound like my kind of book so the spoilers didn't spoil but I can see that it sure affected you and in a big way. Poor Don! I think he got an earful from you!

    Well done, getting the stuff to Goodwill. I have three bags full in my car. I should have thirty. Happy week!

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    1. I stopped at Goodwill yesterday and saw a picture frame I donated. It had a red plaid mat and nothing on the back to hand it up. I laughed that they had marked $7.99 when I paid $1.99 at the mission store for it last summer.

      I dream so often and it's easy to pinpoint where the dreams originate from. Like they say, it's not the setting in dreams that counts, it's the actions. In this case, 'death' is chasing me. The question is is it chasing me away or towards it?

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  12. I know that many people are interested in dream interpretation, but it's never interested me. I suppose one reason is that I rarely dream, and when I do, my dreams are so firmly and obviously rooted in the realities of that there's not much to interpret. I mean -- what's to interpret about a dream about sitting at a table and working at taxes: which I haven't done yet? I can figure that one out!

    But I'm with you on the elephants. They're wonderful creatures, and one of the best zoo experiences I ever had involved a baby elephant reaching over a fence to pull a package of chewing gum out of my shirt pocket. I had no idea that their trunks were capable of such fine control,like our fingers.

    I'd never heard of the book you mentioned, or the author, for that matter. Since I don't read much fiction, that makes sense. It's not that I don't enjoy fiction -- I do. But there's only so much time in a day, and that old business about choices keeps rearing its head.

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    1. Jodi is a well known and popular author of 20-something books and five major movies that are based on them. My Sister's Keeper in one you might have heard of it. You are able to find so many fascinating real-life stories, I can see why you don't have time for fiction.

      Elephants are amazing. Not only do the ends of their trunks have the same dexterity of our fingers they can smell something like chewing gum in a shirt pocket. I wish your elephant encounter was mine.

      I think most dreams are easy to figure out.

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  13. I think the book sounds fascinating! It's OK to shout out the spoiler. You warned us. I might still read it because I love elephants too. They are majestic and amazing. Had I known of it I would have read it on vacation. I read like 5-6 books; some good, but a couple of stinkers too. All were easy beach reads; mainly I just enjoyed the time to read for hours on end!

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    1. Your vacation location was awesome.

      Even knowing the spoiler the book will be a good read. It was a shocker of a plot twist, though.

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  14. I love elephants too, and I will skip that book. I agree, if ghosts do exist your husband is in bad trouble!

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  15. I believe in ghosts because I have had more experiences with them I can't deny what I have seen. Just because someone has passed doesn't mean they will be a ghost either so there ya go.
    Never been a fan of Jodi P's books but this one sounds interesting and may need to add it to my list, You know the one, that never gets to being read because I am always so busy. Yeah, that list.

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    1. I had a weird experience after Don died that I chalked up to having his ghost in the house. I just pinned at the top under the Golden Oldies post...so I keep that door cracked open to the possibility. But I'm not a strong believer.

      It was a good book. I just don't understand why the publishers or the reviewers didn't let readers know that it went to the para-normal.

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  16. I am one of the few people who have never really been able to get on with Jodi Picoult. However, I read Leaving Time and thought it was wonderful - the only book of hers I have immediately got into and didn't want to finish.

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    1. This was only my 3rd (?) Picoult book and it was definitely not written formula style like a lot of prolific authors do. If she had left the poltergeist scent out I would have been more on board with the ending. Can't wait to see what my book club thinks about it later this week.

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