And Finally... The Bookworm’s Best A Life After 50 book review
by Terri “The Bookworm” Schlichenmeyer
Bobby Wonderful: An Imperfect Son Buries His Parents By Bob Morris
t’s perfect!” Once upon a time, those words were music to your ears – but then you grew up. You learned then that a made bed didn’t make the man, good enough generally was, and, as in the new book “Bobby Wonderful” by Bob Morris, sometimes it’s better to ignore perfection and simply focus on a life – or lives – well-lived. As Morris watches his husband, Ira, struggle with his mother’s aging issues, Morris understands the emotions Ira’s going through. Caring for an elderly parent “has become the new normal,” Morris says, and he should know: he helped tend to his own parents at the end of their lives. As his mother lay dying, Morris remembered how, when he was a child, she encouraged him to see beauty in the world around him. She loved music and was “a good mother” whose messy, painful death brought out the worst in Morris and his brother. Oh, how they fought during her final year, though her passing also showed Morris how much he truly loved and admired his older sibling. At the funeral, Morris only wanted to talk about his mother, but “nobody seems to know how.” Not long afterward, on a “sunny summer Monday,” Morris’ father tried to commit suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills. Though he’d seemed to heal well from his wife’s illness and death – at eightysomething, he’d plunged back into the dating scene – his “quiet despair about his failing heart,” previously unnoticed, shook the Morris brothers to their cores. Things became worse, and as their father began to desperately hound Morris for pills to end his life, Morris looked for ways to enhance his father’s days, but time was running out and they both knew it. During his last hospitalization, the elder Morris told his sons that he wanted off life support. It was a wish they let him have. “Caring for your parents is an opportunity,” says Morris. “But we have no parents now, nobody to love us in the way they did. And we also have no worries now, no concerns for a suffering so close that it often felt like our own.” Some 65 million Americans, says Morris, are caregivers. That could be why this memoir will strike a chord for many readers of Life After 50, but, aside from common-bond feelings that children of aging parents will find familiar, “Bobby Wonderful” is also a love letter wrapped inside a very beautiful, moving story. Morris’ cherished memories of his parents’ good times seem to buffer the pain of loss, and that he shares those vivid, personal recollections is a delight. Still, readers get small peeks into irritation here, exasperation, even anger sometimes, which all totally fit in this memoir. I would have, in fact, been disappointed without them. My best advice is to grab tissues before you start this book. You’ll have abundant reason to use them, especially if you’re caring for your own parents. If that’s the case, for you, “Bobby Wonderful” will live up to its title. “Bobby Wonderful: An Imperfect Son Buries His Parents” by Bob Morris, 2015, Twelve, $25.00, 192 pages. The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer who lives on a hill with two dogs and more than 12,000 books. You can read more of her book reviews at www.lifeafter50.com. Just click on “Entertainment” and then “Book Reviews.”
A Look Back
his month marks the passing of 50 years since Bob Dylan released his sixth studio album, “Highway 61 Revisited.” A departure from his acoustic sound, Dylan employed rock musicians for every track, except for the ballad, “Desolation Row.” Critics and fans alike embraced this offering that wove blues-based rock with poetic lyrics to create an album that reflected the political and cultural chaos of 1965 America. The album, named for the highway that connects Dylan’s birthplace – Duluth, Minnesota – to the lands that gave birth to the blues – St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans and Mississippi, reached number three on the U.S. charts and has been ranked number four on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list. The album’s hit, “Like a Rolling Stone,” was also listed – with blatant favoritism – as number one on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list. The cover photo, taken by Daniel Kramer, shows Dylan on the stoop of a building. Behind him, pictured from his waist down in an orange and white striped shirt and holding a camera, is his friend, Bob Neuwirth, whom Kramer said he added just to give the photo some color. Neuwirth was seemingly omnipresent in the company of well-known musicians of the era. An artist, sometime-road manager, poet, legendary womanizer and partier, Neuwirth went on to become a filmmaker and a singer-songwriter in his own right, best-known for co-writing “Mercedes Benz” with another one of his friends – Janis Joplin.
38 LIFEAFTER50.COM August 2015
Just A Thought Before We Go “To be in harmony with the atmosphere of summer, awaken early in the morning and reach to the sun for nourishment to flourish as the gardens do. Work, play, travel, be joyful, and grow into selfless service.” ― Paul Pitchford