Saturday, February 27, 2016

Book Review: Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy - Barbara Johnson

Think Erma Bombeck from a Christian Ministerial position.

If you are an atheist you'll hate this book. It's simply not for you. Just letting you know up front.

Barbara is unabashedly Christian and she preaches from that stand point. Her gospel is about spreading joy and finding humor in adversity (something I find personally a great way to get through things). She knows heartache and she shares it in this book.

Her husband suffered a car accident so severe that he was never going to be much more than a vegetable. He fully recovered. But it was a trying time as she had to figure out how to raise their four sons alone with a severely disabled husband.

Her eldest son was killed in action during the Vietnam War.

Son number two was killed a few years later in a car accident.

Strangely even these events didn't do her in. Her biggest challenge was son number three who announced to her at Disneyland in the mid 70's that he is gay.

Okay, this is a pretty funny chapter as she explains her reaction and how she started viewing everything and everyone. Suddenly everything was shouting at her "homosexual" as the Disney parade went by.

It sent her into a tailspin where she went into a severe depression and thought of it as worse than the deaths of her two oldest who were "deposits in heaven." Her son also disowned them and stayed away for eleven years cutting all ties which was another trial. It caused her to set up "Spatula" a help community for parents of gay children.

Now to be fair, although her experience and viewpoints will upset many people, at the time it was the 70's  and into the 80's after the aids scare. At the time the "gay lifestyle" which she was so afraid of was pretty real. Unprotected sex in bars. Promiscuity. It's not a lifestyle that parents of straight kids want their children to be involved in when they've raised them to find a good spouse and settle down.

Her heartache is real even if it isn't politically correct in these times.

But through it all she never rejected her son and prayed for him to come home.

She also shares her "joy room" a place where she collects the bits and pieces that people send her to express joy. It's a neat idea if you have the space.

The book is also filled with quotes that inspire her.

Barbara passed away a few years ago from brain cancer. She thought it would be her diabetes that would get her.

If you can set aside your own prejudices and remember when it was written (1990), then this is an enjoyable book. Not as funny as Bombeck, but definitely a woman who found joy.

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