North Carolina Literary Review Online 2021

Page 64



LOVE AND MARRIAGE a review by Brandy Reeves Judy Goldman. Together: A Memoir of a Marriage and a Medical Mishap. Doubleday, 2019.

BRANDY REEVES received her BA in English from Salem College and her MA in English from NC State University. She is currently an Adjunct Instructor of English at Forsyth Technical Community College. JUDY GOLDMAN is the author of two memoirs, two novels, and two collections of poetry. Her writing has appeared in literary magazines like Southern Review, Kenyon Review, Gettysburg Review, Ohio Review, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, and Crazyhorse, as well as Real Simple, USA Today, The Washington Post, and Literary Hub. She has received the Irene Blair Honeycutt Lifetime Achievement Award, the Hobson Award for Distinguished Achievement in Arts and Letters, the Fortner Writer and Community Award for “outstanding generosity to other writers and the larger community,” and the Beverly D. Clark Author Award from Queens University.

ABOVE Judy and Henry Goldman in Colorado, 1979 and OPPOSITE at their

fifty-second wedding anniversary, 2019

Judy Goldman’s memoir, appropriately titled Together, is “about why and how two people come together and why and how they stay together” (224). Together centers on the medical mishap that changed Goldman’s marriage when her husband Henry’s battle with paralysis reshaped the traditional gender dynamics of their marriage and, in turn, the author’s image of herself. The memoir is a journey to finding oneself in the midst of change, accepting what cannot be changed, and recognizing a new normal, as well as about healing and forgiveness. Together begins with a typical Goldman morning in 2006 before Henry’s epidural procedure for spinal stenosis. During the epidural, the doctor nicked the wrong vein, causing temporary paralysis in Henry’s entire lower body. The accident is a life-changing event, but the memoir begins with no indication of angst or worry about the pending procedure to prepare the reader for the upcoming upheaval that so much of the memoir will cover as the couple desperately struggles to find and regain the normalcy of that morning. After “The Accident,” Goldman shifts the narrative between their lives after the incident and early memories of her courtship and marriage, from their blind date, the engagement on their third date, their small and intimate wedding, the honeymoon period to follow, to the first five months into their marriage. These memories are sandwiched between desperate moments of



the present that describe their struggle to resume normalcy. Months following “The Accident,” after battling with hospitals and doctors to heal her husband and to understand how this could have happened, the Goldmans are again enjoying a normal afternoon – Henry using a cane by this point – when it becomes clear that they are far from how things were before. Henry trips on the rug, injuring his legs – and his pride, as their role reversal during his recovery will evidently continue. In the second chapter, Goldman describes how she was called Flimely, Yiddish for “little bird,” as a child. It is a characterization that she internalized to the point that she “like many women of [her] generation, married and made [her]self at home in the role of LookedAfter Wife.” This characterization created the dynamics of Judy as the passive wife and Henry

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