And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

After reading Fredrik Backman’s “A Man Called Ove”, he’s become my new obsession.

There aren’t many writers out there who draw your soul into a story like he does. You see the characters. You root for them. You feel their sorrows and hopes and triumph. You sit in bed at 2am weeping for them, and smile when things finally begin to work for them.

Because deep inside, these stories mirror yours. Your story is buried inside words and you recognise this. So, it stops being about the characters really; it’s about you. And me. Hoping we’ll get a happy ending eventually.

I read Backman’s novella “And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer”.
It’s a very short complete-in-one-sitting kind of book that tells the story of a man searching for the best way to tell his son and grand son goodbye.

His greatest fear isn’t death; it’s not remembering. It’s waking up each day knowing your memory will fail you. That you’ll stare at the people who meant the world to you and have no recollection of who they are. That you’ll pick your favourite book for 10 years and not know why it was so perfect for a decade. That the words you loved so much, or the numbers that excited you means nothing.

I would fear that. Not death. Never death. Not going grey or wrinkled. I look forward to it. I would fear forgetting; looking into the mirror and not knowing. Scratching at the surface of consciousness and not being able to dig within. It’s frustrating today to have a word right there at the tip of my tongue and yet my mind betrays me. It’s frustrating to feel like I need to recall something and yet can’t access the file. But to know that one day it’ll simply be a natural reaction to aging…

Noah, his grandson, takes this in strides. He’s a child who loves numbers like his grandpa. But he also understands adult complexities because his grandpa always spoke to him like an adult.
Ted, the son, likes words and music. He never got along with his father. He taught himself to ride a bike.

… Grandparents dot on their grandkids because they’re trying to apologise to their children for being bad parents.

I can live with this.

Backman weaves an emotional, compelling story of family, love, regret and hope. All fundamental themes familiar to us.


There’s a hospital room at the end of a life where someone, right in the middle of the floor, has pitched a green tent. A person wakes up inside it, breathless and afraid, not knowing where he is. A young man sitting next to him whispers:
“Don’t be scared.”
The person sits up in his sleeping bag, hugs his shaking knees, cries.
“Don’t be scared,” the young man repeats.
A balloon bounces against the roof of the tent; its string reaches the person’s fingertips.
“I don’t know who you are,” he whispers.
“You look different, Noahnoah. How is school? Are the teachers better now?”
“Yes, Grandpa, the teachers are better. I’m one of them now. The teachers are great now.
“That’s good, that’s good, Noahnoah, a great brain can never be kept on Earth,” Grandpa whispers and closes his eyes.

16 thoughts on “And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

  1. Funny to come across this here, something I was turning over only a few hours ago. I was thinking about my husband’s grandmother who at 91 recognizes no one. An unconscious existence isn’t really living, nor one without a living history.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read Ove some time ago and really enjoyed it. I’ll have to read his novella. Loss of memory has always been something I’ve feared. Forgetting everything and everyone who made you, you, is difficult to imagine. I just can’t imagine what that’s like for the person going through it and then, after it escalates, to all those who love him/her.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, I agree! I think the thing that frightens me the most is getting some sort of dementia as I age, and not being able to remember things. My memories are so precious to me, and I also can’t imagine not recognizing my own loved ones.
    Isn’t Fredrik Backman wonderful? I’ve read all of his works, and so far my favorite is A Man Called Ove. But Beartown is terrific as well, even though it’s a bit more heavy than his others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He is such an amazing writer! And I especially love how he weaves stories about the nuances of family and community. Beautiful themes to explore.
      Haven’t read all his books yet, but I’m enjoying the stories so far.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. These things greater than death abound and the fact that they are inevitable brings about a kind of fear that can cripples one’s memories of a perfect lifetime.

    Well done Uju.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I feel the same way! And it makes me sad to imagine what it would feel like.

      But as people who write, I’m hoping if that time ever comes, our words will bring some solace.


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