IN MY OPINION
Books Read in 2006
PAGES PROJECT, UPDATE
13 September 2006
It was not quite a year ago when I wrote an entry called "The Pages Project," in which I said that I should read more.
I've been an inveterate reader all my life and what with computers and television and Netflix, I really have slacked off a lot in recent years. In "The Pages Project" I noted that in 2004 I had read only 17 books, 5888 pages, and that I was doing less well in 2005. (Ultimately, in 2005, I read only 13 books, 5313 pages).
As I finished Ruth Reichl's "Garlic and Sapphires" today and added it to my database, I was pleased to see that this was the 19th book I've read in 2006, 6138 pages, with 3½ months still to go in the year. Not exactly a stellar record, but still an improvement over the previous 2 years.
I'm not sure how I managed to up my reading in 2006. Perhaps better choices, more page turners than in previous years. Perhaps more consistently reading in the car while Walt drives. And always, always have a book in my purse for times when I have to wait for a person, a doctor's appointment, public transportation or the start of a play (I also read during intermission).
I've also started picking up my mother's trick of reading during television commercials. Amazing how much you can get read during a commercial break that extends forever.
But I'm feeling good about the fact that I'm reading again and have discovered some good books this year, the aforementioned "Garlic and Sapphires" my current recommendation (following "Me and Emma," by Elizabeth Flock, which I read last month and am recommending).
While everyone was commemorating the events of September 11, it slowly snuck up to September 13. The 35th anniversary of my sister's death. Lord--so hard to believe. She would be 59 today but, like David, is permanently frozen at age 24. I can't even begin to imagine a 59 year old Karen.
Karen was a difficult person, easy to anger, filled with righteous indignation, often on the outs with our father. She separated herself from the family for a couple of years when you could not get through to her at all, but she had come back during the year before her death.
The last time I saw Karen, she and her partner Bernie (who ultimately killed her) had come for dinner. Karen and I did not grow up as close sisters. We were 4½ years apart in age and lived in a house that was always filled with tension and it did not draw us together, but kept us apart.
Like all those books about the wonderful relationship between daughters and their fathers (which hurt every time I see them), books which celebrate the closeness of sisters make me feel sad for what might have been, and never was. I look at the closeness my mother had with all of her sisters and often wished that Karen and I had experienced that closeness. But we never did.
Our last night together, however, was different. She was relaxed, in good spirits and we had probably the best time that I'd ever had with her. I remember that I had made a Mexican dinner and Karen brought the best salsa I'd ever eaten. She was going to give me the recipe. I remember thinking, as she and Bernie left, that maybe now that we were adults, we could finally have a sister relationship. Maybe we could finally be friends.
I also remember, several months later, when my parents' marriage was falling apart, standing over Karen's grave and screaming "DAMN YOU! for leaving me with this mess!"
But the person who had the worst memories of Karen was our father. They fought constantly. They fought over everything and the last time he ever saw her, he followed her out to her car, yelling at her.
A week later she was lying in a coma from which she would never wake.
My father spent the rest of his life crying about his relationship with her and how much he loved her. Of course it never taught him a damn thing because all the while he was bemoaning the daughter he lost he was pushing away the one that he still had, but that was our father--a bundle of contradictions.
I contrast that with my memories of Dave and of Paul. The last time I saw Dave we had big hugs and told each other that we loved each other. The last contact I had with Paul was a phone chat (he used to call me a couple of times a day, whenever something funny would occur to him), and we always ended our conversation with a quick "love you."
The lessons of Karen's death, of Gilbert's death, of Paul & David's deaths are that life is too short for anger. I hope that whenever someone I love dies, I have no bad memories of the death occurring when we were angry with each other.
Life is short--eternity is...forever.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Karen and I, ~1950