Happy 4th of July!
For as long as I can remember, any fireworks show I’ve watched conjures up wonderful childhood memories of the old stadium in the North End of town. It’s where we gathered together as a community arriving early at dusk to get the best seats, then we’d wait in the semi-dark for what seemed like hours. Finally, the first flare rocketed high above into the night air followed by the Ba-BOOM. We’d crack our necks upwards in unison in anticipation of more. Nobody dared look away, not even for a moment. It was also just about the time that the mosquitos began their feeding frenzy exposing unwelcomed welts on our dampened skin. The thunderous vibrations and ear-piercing bangs were so powerful that hands covered many young ears! Oohs and aahs resonated throughout the crowd. The splattering blasts of brilliance decorated the dark backdrop of the evening skies. What a sight! The thrill never grows old.
The significance of Independence Day was something we all seemed to understand early on. After all, New Hampshire’s state motto, Live Free or Die, symbolized the importance of our liberties. The Declaration of Independence was taught in every history class and we didn’t question the bravery of those who fought for our freedom. We said the Pledge of Allegiance each morning in school, respected our proud veterans, and believed it was an honor and a privilege to live in this country.
Decades later, I try my best not to take these liberties for granted. I remind myself to practice gratitude to the best of my ability each day, no matter what. Not perfectly… just keep practicing.
#peacefuleasyfeeling #jublilantjuly #sharingkindness #thankavet #freedom #gratefulmindset
Honest to goodness, every single day is a chocolate day. No need for a holiday, excuse, or invitation! : )
When You Leave Me by Susan Wingate
As an avid reader of Susan Wingate’s award-winning, bestselling novels, I was eager to jump into her newest release, When You Leave Me. After a brief ponderance about the novel’s title and the omnipotent light above the eerie cloud formations on the cover, my inner detective was alerted. I allowed these nuances to dance around for a bit. Was this a chilling mystery fraught with regret? Or was it more about a protagonist accepting fate based on a tragic love story? With no clue and antsy to get started, I stood in the middle of the room with pinched brows and opened my ebook.
Within the first chapters, a quaking series of events involving untimely circumstances rattled my conscience and upended my logical reasoning. Author Wingate strikes a balance with a heavy but tender health issue, the cruel disease of Dementia, and chilling plot development. So, I finally sat all the way down and cozied up with the comfy characters to sate my curiosity. Here’s my take…
The stark progression of dementia swallowing her once-virile, handsome husband, Larry Michaels, and the obvious strain placed on Jamie as wife/caregiver begs the ultimate endearing question to oneself… in sickness and in health, right? Over the months, the guilt-ridden feelings of imposition magnified and clawed at their sacred vows. Still, Jamie’s aching love for this charismatic fella was like oxygen – necessary for her soul and existence.
After returning to a darkened home from a routine book club meeting one evening, a panicked Jamie calls out to her beloved repeatedly but to no avail. Possibly Larry has just wandered off again! (gulp) When questioned by Detective Rob Rimmler about her missing husband, Jamie becomes acutely aware of just how small Friday Harbor is and that gossip travels fast. Everyone knows everything in her cove including Rob! It’s usually the spouse… a presumed scenario repeated by Liv, her successful crime-writing BFF. Only serving to pile on another dimension of morbid sadness, this searing notion propels Jamie into a debilitating state of fear. Somehow, she must stay strong!
The simplest of things in her surroundings like a single moth encircling the exterior light, a nearby web being spun, or the distant rustling treetops temporarily alleviates Jamie’s reeling thoughts. Barely calm enough to answer Detective Rob’s probing queries, her eyes drift back and forth between the interrogator and an unaware insect. Just breathe.
The moth had disappeared. Had the spider snagged it?Excerpt from Chapter Two, When You Leave Me.
As the Search & Rescue crew scours the area, another dire thought surfaces — time is of the essence when a person goes missing. The investigation drags on. Jamie’s deteriorating, frazzled appearance delivers the nugget necessary to feed the rumor mill rats lurking about. Was the happy couple truly okay? A consideration that her dear husband would show up with a bewildered smirk on his face, wondering what the fuss was all about, kept hope afloat. When suspicion heats up in the ensuing weeks, Jamie’s paranoia deepens.
To make matters worse, the lead investigator, Rob, is relentless in conveniently stopping by her home unannounced. On one such unsolicited visit, he informs Jamie that a foot has washed up on shore and she’ll need to identify whether the shoe belongs to Larry. Dread consumes the anxious wife as she prays it’s not his! But by this point, Jamie isn’t sure who she can trust. She questions the loyalty of the close-knit townspeople she’s known for decades and even her longtime book club friends!
A Then and Now format, pre-and post-missing husband narrative between chapters was easy to follow. From a healthy couple seemingly content with their aging years in Friday Harbor to newly uncovered clues bound to shed light on her husband’s disappearance, Jamie is forced to trudge down an unanticipated muddied, and thorny path. But can she endure what lies ahead?
Author Wingate showcases an impressive, intimate knowledge about Alzheimer’s and Dementia by cleverly threading the rawness of each into inconspicuous and unsuspecting twists.
Fast-paced with an intense edginess… well-worth the read!
Note: There are no spoilers and I was not paid to write this review. This is a simple no-nonsense perspective of my experience in reading this novel.
And there were flowers everywhere…
Magnificent Natural Beauty / Photos by Toby A. Williams
Thanks for stopping by to spend a bit of time with us today.