I have a confession to make. I don't read every word of every book I pick up. I skim. I get the feeling. I get the gist. There are just too many to read each word.
Having said, that I must tell you that I read every word of this book. Every single one.
I was intrigued with the subject, "one family's journal in eldercare" and that is what prompted me to read it at all. But I read each word for a different reason. I read each word because I instantly felt I knew these people. Because their story was so real. Because it was not clinical or preachy, and yet very educational.
At times I was grateful that the author introduced me to his parents and family and at times, as I cried with them, I was angry that I was pulled into an emotional situation that should not have affected me. But because of the writing, the choice of stories, the people themselves, it did affect me.
No book is truly a "must read" but this one comes close. Anyone who has ever or may ever deal with the aging process of loved ones (or even themselves), should read this book. I am lucky. I have not had to face Alzheimer's, Dementia or Shy-Drager Syndrome.
But, like all of us will at some time, I had to say goodbye to my father. My father did not become an old man. For his sake, I am glad. My mother is healthy and very much alive. For everyone's sake I am glad.
The book does not dwell in morbid or melancholy. It is a book about love, respect and family. It celebrates humor and every day life (even touching on certain bodily functions that are usually not discussed!). It acknowledges death as returning to home - and opportunity to be with God and family and friends who passed before us. It compels us to use our time together wisely.
It also teaches us the value of professionals; caregivers, doctors, nurses, drivers, religious professionals. We rely on them throughout our lives in so many capacities and we tend to raise our expectations of their abilities beyond anything humanly possible. Begert-Clark makes us appreciate their skills and understand their boundaries.
He also teaches the importance of friends - a support circle, not just for the bad times, but to help celebrate the good as well.
When all is said and done I would not hesitate to encourage anyone to read this book. It will provide you with a moving, emotional and meaningful experience.
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