Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving

I was worried after hearing from so many of the group that they were reading and loving this book that it might be one of those where we all agreed we liked it and there wasn't much else to say.  I'm happy to have been wrong.  The last time I saw Maureen, she told me she had been crying because of the book.  I hadn't started it yet and I felt a little panic. 

I don't think I've ever read anything like this.  I had to skip the accident and it appears that we all skimmed it and also that the Evison was vague in the telling.  He wrote this book as a catharsis to the memory of a road trip taken by his 16-year-old sister who never came back.  She was killed on her birthday and the event shattered his family. 

It was great to have Jennifer and Diana's perspectives as professional caregivers, what is required and expected.  Jennifer said a lot of the training is on right the job.  Diana added that it's physically demanding so CNAs end up with strained wrists and pulled backs.  So much is expected while so little is paid.  What an occupation for Ben Benjamin to enter after two years of depression and alcoholism to see that Trevor's bottom was deeper than his own.

And then we devolved into laughing at the antics and characters, two dads trying to reinsinuate themselves into lives of alienated teens.  And how can you not appreciate Bob who can't seem to control anything in his life, including his fly, yet takes a trip like Trevor's dream road trip and sends those perfect postcards.  Then the poor man drives into the only post along the highway and is stuck face down in the sofa bed he tried to prepare for his guests, only to rescued by them when they arrive.

One thing that struck a chord across the group from Ben:  "Listen to me: everything you think you know, every relationship you've ever taken for granted, every plan or possibility you've ever hatched, every conceit or endeavor you've ever concocted, can be stripped from you in an instant.  Sooner or later, it will happen.  So prepare yourself.  Be ready not to be ready.  Be ready to be brought to your knees and beaten to dust.  Because no stable foundation, no act of will, no force of cautious habit will save you from this fact: nothing is indestructible." 

We liked the honest ending, no slick new world for Ben Benjamen, but the promise of a new beginning - a different one.  He had shattered his old world on the road trip, taking chances, losing control and starting over, incorporating other lost characters in the journey.  We are left with no idea how the next chapter will start, only that there will be a next chapter.  I like redemption stories.

In an interview Evison said, it's a story of total collapse, and ultimately, reconstruction.  Before it is over, this calamitous journey will cover five states, resulting in one birth, two arrests, and one instance of cannibalism and including a dust storm, a hail storm, several shit storms, and a six-hundred-mile cat-and-mouse pursuit by a mysterious Buick Skylark. 

This goes on my top ten list, along with The Shipping News.