The Goodbye Summerby Patricia Gaffney
The Goodbye Summer is an unforgettable novel about daring to love, braving a loss, and setting yourself free, by Patricia Gaffney, the author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller, The Saving Graces. Poignantly exploring one woman’s inner growth and self discovery over the course of a season of profound change, The/i>/i>/i>/i>/b>… See more details below
The Goodbye Summer is an unforgettable novel about daring to love, braving a loss, and setting yourself free, by Patricia Gaffney, the author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller, The Saving Graces. Poignantly exploring one woman’s inner growth and self discovery over the course of a season of profound change, The Goodbye Summer is women’s fiction at its finest—heartbreaking, healing, emotional, and real. As Nora Roberts so aptly puts it, Patricia Gaffney “reminds us what it’s like to be a woman.”
- HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author
Patricia Gaffney's novels include The Goodbye Summer, Flight Lessons, and The Saving Graces. She and her husband currently live in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania.
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The Goodbye Summer
By Gaffney, Patricia
The first Caddie Winger ever heard of Wake House was when she was helping her grandmother get her drawers on over the cast on her leg.
It was Nana's second day back from the hospital. "If I was at Wake House," she said, lying flat on the sofa and holding her bunched-up nightgown over her lap for modesty, "somebody who knew what they were doing would be doing this."
"What house? Awake?"
"Wake House. That place on Calvert Street across from the thing. The thing, where you go with papers. To get signed."
"The notary? Put your good foot in here, Nan. Are you talking about that old house with the tower and all the porches? I think it's a boardinghouse."
"Before. Now it's an old folks' home."
"Oh, you don't need to go to a place like that, I can take care of you fine."
"It's a learning curve."
Nana mentioning a nursing home, imagine that. For the rest of the morning Caddie pondered what it might mean. When the old lady across the street went dotty and her children put her in a nursing home, Nana was aghast. "Shoot me if you ever want to get rid of me that bad, you hear? Take me out in the backyard and fire away." Caddie assumed the subject of nursing homes was off-limits forever.
That afternoon, though, out of the blue, Nana brought up Wake House again.
They were on the front porch, Nana slumped in her rented wheelchair, resting her broken leg on a pillow on top of the low kitchen stool. Caddie stood behind her, braiding her hair. Nana had long, pretty, smokegray hair and, before it softened with age, a long, bony, sharp-featured face. She loved it when people told her she looked like Virginia Woolf. Nobody ever added, "If she'd lived to seventy-nine instead of walking into the river."
"What's-her-name died there," she said, breaking a drowsy silence.
"Who died where, Nan?"
"Wake House. What's-her-name, you know. Pink hair, Tuesday nights."
Hm. Back in Nana's Buddhist period, when she'd led a chanting service in the dining room one night a week, an elderly lady who dyed her hair pink had shown up occasionally. "Mrs. Pringle?"
"Inez Pringle, thank you."
"She died at Wake House?"
Nana shrugged. "You have to die someplace."
Caddie leaned over to see if she was joking. Her eyes were fixed on something out in the yard -- Caddie followed her gaze to what was left of George Bush in Love. That's how she'd broken her leg, by falling off the stepladder while putting a final cowboy boot on top of her phallus-shaped, seven-foot-high lawn sculpture. Nana was an artist.
"Are you serious?" Caddie asked.
A moment passed. "About what?" Nana said dreamily.
Caddie smiled and went back to braiding her hair. How were they going to wash it? This old house had only one bathroom, upstairs, and right now Nana couldn't stand up at the kitchen sink for longer than a minute or two. Maybe one of those dry shampoos, they were supposed to ...
"About Wake House? Damn right I'm serious. Call 'em up, find out how much it costs to stay there."
Her next pain pill wasn't for forty minutes. She'd broken her leg in two places, but luckily the breaks were simple, so her recovery was supposed to be long and tedious but not tricky or dangerous. The pain made her irritable, though. That's all Caddie could think of to account for Nana's sudden interest in recovering anyplace except the house on Early Street she'd lived in for fifty years.
"Wake House. I even like the sound of it."
"You do?" It made Caddie think of a funeral home.
"It's not like one of those places, it's not a mick ... mick ... "
"McNursing Home," Caddie guessed.
"This place is going to the dogs."
"The whole neighborhood. It's not even safe anymore."
"Yes, it is."
"No, it's not."
Caddie stopped arguing, because she never won, but Nana was exaggerating.
Early Street might not be what it used to be, not that it had ever been that much, but it still had decent, hardworking families with fairly well-behaved children, plenty of old-timers rocking out their afternoons on the shady, crooked front porches. Crime was still pretty much in the vandalism category, boys breaking things or writing on things. It was getting older, that's all. Everything got older.
"Wake House," Nana resumed. "I bet it's got an elevator. Ramps, wheelchairs with motors. People giving you massages."
"I'm a senior citizen, I deserve the best. This place is a death trap."
"Only about half an hour till your next pill, then you'll feel better. Want me to play the piano? You could listen through the window."
"Look it up in the yellow pages. Better yet, take me to see it -- I always wanted to go inside that place. It's not just for old folks, you can get well there, too. Conva ... conva ... "
"Nan, I know you don't want to, but if you would just go upstairs, this whole thing would be a lot simpler. I really think."
"You'd be near the bathroom -- you know how you hate that climb up the stairs four or five times a day. You could sleep in your own bed instead of the lumpy couch. You wouldn't have to move every time one of my students comes over for a lesson. You could have a bell or a whistle, and I'd come up anytime you needed something, I wouldn't mind a bit. It just makes so much more -- "
"I told you, I'm not going up there."
"But why not?"
"Once you go up, you never come down."
"Nana, you only broke your leg."
"That's it, I've made up my mind. Wake House. I used to know the family, you know."
Maybe Caddie could take one of Nana's pills for the headache she was getting ...Continues...
Excerpted from The Goodbye Summer by Gaffney, Patricia Excerpted by permission.
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