Family Life / On Reading / The English Teacher

Grouchy Old Men (and the girl who loves them)

I expect it’s not uncommon for us to stumble over reminders of the ‘dearly beloved’ in our lives in the eyes and voices of the passersby at the grocery, post office, or local coffee shop. I see traces of the dad I loved at least to the moon and back in the pages of nearly everything I read. He shows up in characters on the screen and stage – men of a certain age and temperament, possessed of a certain grin and the notion that his way of doing a thing is the only conceivable way for the thing to be done. I not only see my dad in fictional or poetic men fashioned with ink; heck, I see him in the man whose crooked grin has greeted me every morning for the past thirty-three years! How fitting that the man who raised me, always insistent about the superiority of his own methodologies, would give his blessing to the man who, equally assertive about his own way of doing a thing, made me his wife. Another line running through the ‘common chapters’…

I’ve not yet gotten through with mourning my dad’s passing. I rejoice in every good memory. I remember him when the winter wind howls. I remember him when the spring rains come or when the threat of hail turns the local farmers’ eyes skyward. I remember him best when I see a combine in golden fields at harvest time. I can still hear his gravelly voice, and see him shake his head at some hair-brained idea that wasn’t his own.

I’ve not yet gotten through with delighting in this husband of mine either. By Grace, I’m still making good memories with him while winter fades into another spring-time, and the sunrise wakens us for another day’s work. I still gaze at his crooked grin, and listen to him as he shakes his head at some untried or foolish notion that isn’t his own.

These men – crusty on the outside, but tender and charitable and endlessly endearing – have been, and remain, the steady anchors of my world. How fitting then, to find reminders of them in other chapters…

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Ove. A crusty old guy, full of principles and strongly held opinions.

Ove. A man who can’t find a reason to keep on living, and can’t manage to end his life, no matter how he tries.

Ove. A stand-offish neighbor who grumps his way into retirement, widower-hood, and unexpected care-taking.

Ove. A man whose heart and voice, whose gruff exterior and tender heart, whose helping hand and ‘take no sh*t from anyone’ attitude make him irresistible.

Ove. A man who made me laugh, made me cry, made me long for my dad and hug my husband a little tighter.

A Man Called Ove. A novel driven by a curmudgeon of the highest order. Read it, and find yourself reminded of the grumps you’re privileged to love, and love them a little harder. Because “time is a curious thing. Most of us only live for the time that lies right ahead of us. A few days, weeks, years. One of the most painful moments in a person’s life probably comes with the insight that an age has been reached when there is more to look back on than ahead” (Backman 325-26).

There’s no time but the present to discover the common chapters that bind us together.

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2 thoughts on “Grouchy Old Men (and the girl who loves them)

  1. My cousin just sent me an email recommending “A Man Called Ove”. I had never heard of it. The next email I opened was your blog. Now I will definitely have to read it!

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