Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Nourishing our souls is so very matter what our age!

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Our Souls at Night by Kent HarufI am so sad Kent Haruf will not be 
writing or publishing any more books! 
The only good news is that he published other 
books which I can also read!
I loved this book just as much as I thought I would, perhaps even more!
I can see myself behaving just as Addie did...
if I was in that same situation.
And I'm glad for that! 
Glad that I wouldn't just accept my life of one 
but would be happy to ignore "convention" 
to make myself and someone else happier.
This only makes good sense, in my opinion!
And you don't HAVE to sign a piece of paper and
'legalize' a relationship!
You can, if you wish, but it is not 
a requirement, in my opinion. 

Sometimes a cover 'fits' so well with a book that I just have to comment on it, and I feel that way about this cover. When I first saw it, I thought to myself that it was a bit strange to show only one side of a bed. But now that I've read the book, I get it. Good job, Carol Devine Carson! :)

"...not sex. I'm not looking at it that way...I'm talking about getting through the night. And lying warm in bed, companionably. Lying down in bed together and you staying the night. The nights are the worse. Don't you think?
  Yes, I think so. (5) dark he went out the back door and walked up the back alley carrying a paper sack with his pajamas and toothbrush inside. (7)
And so began Addie and Louis's partnership to comfort each other during the loneliest hours. It worked beautifully! Though they were both understandably hesitant in the very beginning...but why not venture out and break some new ground, so to speak! 

On the first "companionable" night,
I'll come by the front door next time. If there is a next time.
  Don't you think there will be? she said...Don't you have any faith? she said.
  In you, I do. I can have faith in you. I see that already. But I'm not sure I can be equal to you.
  What are you talking about? How do you mean that?
  In courage, he said. Willingness to risk. 
  Yes, but you're here.
  That's right, I am. (9)
Addie elaborates on the fact that she is not going to worry about what others think or run her life according to their rules any longer. I so totally agree with her! I've survived almost 60 years. Just stand back. I'm comin' through and I intend to do as I damn well please, at least as much as possible! :) Personally, I think Addie is brilliant! Just think how much happier elderly people would be with companionship during the loneliest most challenging hours to get through--nighttime. 

Addie's grandson, Jamie, comes to spend the summer with her, since his mother has moved out and his parents are now separated. Jamie's father, Gene, is Addie's son. All this when the child isn't even six years old...such stress and change for him. I despised his father for just dumping his son on his mother to care for the whole summer long, though Gene was none to emotionally healthy himself and his business had decreased drastically, so it is always easy to judge others when you are not in their shoes.(Sorry, Gene!) Addie quickly includes Louis in their everyday life and this proves to be a healing relationship for her grandson. It is so very sweet how they work to not only calm Jamie at night, but entertain him during the day. It strikes me that nighttime can be the most challenging time to get through for many of us--those who are older and alone, as well as those who are young and dealing with change...Jamie would awaken each night, crying, sometimes worse, and the first night Louis stays following Jamie's arrival, he carries him into Addie's bed.
  Louis took the boy's hand and held it and the three of them lay together in the dark. 
  Good old dark, Louis said. All comfortable and good, nothing to worry anybody, nothing to be afraid of. He began to sing very softly. He had a good tenor voice. He sang "Someone's in the Kitchen with Dinah" and "Down in the Valley." The boy relaxed and went to sleep. 
  Addie said, I've never heard you sing before. 
  I used to sing to Holly.
  You've never sung for me. 
  I didn't want to scare you away. Or have you send me away.
  That was nice, she said. Sometimes you're a pretty nice man.
  I suppose we're going to stay like this, divided all night. 
  I'll think good thoughts across to you.
  Don't make them too racy. It might disturb my rest. 
  You never know. (77)
Awwww...this just struck me as so very sincere! I love both Louis and Addie. They are both learning about each other and sharing about their lives and experiences, just as any two people getting to know each other better do! And the way they care for Jamie! 

Addie talks with Louis about how she recognizes that Gene is repeating the same mistakes his own father made with him, in his relationship with his own son, Jaime.
  You can't fix things, can you, Louis said.
  We always want to. But we can't. (144)
It is so true that as parents (and grandparents) we want to "fix" everything for our children/grandchildren, but then they would lose the opportunity to learn and adjust appropriately, and that wouldn't, in the end, "fix" anything! 

As Louis states,
I just want to live simply and pay attention to what's happening each day. And come sleep with you at night.
  Well, that's what we're doing. Who would have thought at this time in our lives that we'd still have something like this. That it turns out we're not finished with changes and excitement. And not all dried up in body and spirit. (147)
Nor should you be! :) No matter what your age!

In the end, I hated Gene for his selfishness and self-righteousness. He took something from Addie that couldn't be replaced, and although I can sympathize with this grief, guilt, and remorse from his own childhood losses, I cannot justify what he does to Addie, his own mother. I sincerely hope none of my three sons would treat me similarly, but you never know...

Addie's comment about life, love, relationships:
Who does ever get what they want? 
It doesn't seem to happen to many of us if any at all. 
It's always two people bumping against each other blindly, 
acting out of old ideas and dreams and mistaken understandings. (130)
I would like to think many of us get more than that from our life, but perhaps not...
I feel as if I have been very lucky in my relationships. 
Have they all been perfect? Of course not...
they involved humans who are, by definition, imperfect! :)
But if you pay attention, there is always something positive to be gained from most any relationship--if you "pay attention to what's happening each day"--live in the NOW!

Oh, if you haven't read this book, please do!
It reads very very quickly. I read it in one evening after work and I'm not a "fast" reader.
I don't believe you need to be "older" to truly enjoy this book,
in fact you may benefit even more if you are younger,
because you should glean a lesson on how NOT to treat your aging parent(s)! :)
I will read more of Haruf's work! (Provided I live long enough...)


  1. OK, Lynn, here is my test to see if I can leave comments. I loved this book, too. In fact, I'm reviewing it next week!

    1. Hurray! For both things: you can post comments again and you also loved this book! Very cool! I'll be anxious to see your review next week! :)

  2. Yay! Worked! I have to use Name/URL as Naomi said. I can't use my wordpress login or Google.

  3. I'm glad you loved this one so much! I totally agree, and Gene was a selfish ass. I also think his character wasn't super well developed, so his motivations felt a little "out there" for me...

    1. I rather liked the way Gene was more of a peripheral character--it allowed Louis and Addie to shine through, along with Jamie. I would say that perhaps Gene's motivations might seem a bit more realistic when you're older and have experienced more of life and your children as adults, etc. I found Gene's actions and behaviors to be quite believable. Perhaps that was just me... Thanks for stopping by and I hope to read your review when posted.:)