Monday, February 27, 2017

Curmudgeon: A Man Called Ove

Picture the crankiest man in your neighborhood.  If everyone in your neighborhood is perfect... you must live in Utah.  (Just kidding!)  Think about the crankiest man you have met in your life. 
 Got it?  

When I was growing up in Canada, we had a guy that scared the living
daylight out of me.  When I walked to the bus stop, I would give a sideways glance in the direction of his house.  I wasn't exactly sure why I was scared of him 
or why he was so cranky.  He never smiled.  He'd sit on a lawn chair on his porch 
and secretly judge every move that everyone made.
As if Monday's weren't bad enough, I knew that I would get home from school and my mother would have made several loaves of bread and it was my duty to deliver 
a warm loaf wrapped in a dish towel to the neighbor who lived all alone and rarely smiled.
It honestly terrified me!  
(If I had known about Xanax at 10 years old, I would have begged, borrowed, or stole one in anticipation of my bread bearing.)

Now that I'm grown, I realize that things are rarely what they appear to be.
I'm sure my sweet mother knew the story about Uncle Dan.
And she also knew that I needed to overcome my fears.

I just finished this book that reminded me of my neighbor of my childhood.
  Here it is: 

Meet Ove.  (Pronounced Oova) One of the crankiest characters I have encountered in my reading lifetime.  "Cranky" may not adequately cover Ove. He's more of a...


Do you know what a curmudgeon is?  According to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary:
"a crusty, ill-temper and usually old man"
Yup!  That's Ove.  He's the man who enforces all the rules in the neighborhood
He's the man who goes out every morning to make sure there aren't 
cars driving down the "NO CARS" lane.
He's the man who tries hard to commit suicide but fails at every turn.
(I know, that went a little dark, really fast, sorry!)
He's the man who loses his best friend over 
Saabs vs all other cars.
He's the man with strict rules for living and smiles.

But really,
Ove was mourning.  He was mourning the death of his wife.  Through 
flashbacks, we see that the one thing he loved was his wife
She was everything he wasn't. Yet it worked for them.
Ove took fresh flowers to Sonja's grave every day... pink flowers.
He would sit by her grave and tell her how he loved her, what was going on in the neighborhood, and he would tell her that he'd be with her soon.
(hence, the suicide attempts)

This book shows what can happen when someone actually 
takes the time to show care for an old widower who appears to be the crankiest
man alive.
Parvaneh KNEW!
She, her husband and their two little girls love Ove.
They melt his curmudgeon heart.

I know how it feels to lose the love of your life.  
I know how it feels when people don't understand but think they do know 
how it feels to lose a spouse.
Ove just wanted to be with Sonja.
When something so significant (love, wife, husband, child) is taken from you, I think
it is perfectly fine to be a little cantankerous. 

I could go on and on and on about this story.
There is a movie as well, complete with subtitles (the author is Swedish).
But, read the book first if you can.


I am leaving a quote that was the most impactful paragraph in the book for me.
I can relate.
I know.

“Death is a strange thing. People live their whole lives as if it does not exist, and yet it's often one of the great motivations for the living. Some of us, in time, become so conscious of it that we live harder, more obstinately, with more fury. Some need its constant presence to even be aware of its antithesis. Others become so preoccupied with it that they go into the waiting room long before it has announced its arrival. We fear it, yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.” 

― Fredrik BackmanA Man Called Ove


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