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Caring in Remembered Ways is very clearly a work of great
meaning and personal commitment for the author. Davis created
her own publishing company, Heartsong Books,
"to celebrate an ongrowing understanding of the interconnectedness
of life." In the introduction she states, "I confess
I could have condensed this book into one sentence. See deeply
the beauty and interconnectedness of all life; then think, speak
and act from what you see." Her readers will be glad she
Davis is at her most heart felt when she describes the condition
of the invalid. She exhibits great empathy as she writes about
the sick or dying person lying in bed, needing help but hesitating
to ask, and being afraid in his isolation. She displays exquisite
sensitivity to the issues of privacy, powerlessness, conflict
about voicing requests, shame, loneliness, fear, and especially
vulnerability. The book's finest moments lie in her ability to
"Having compassion for all life, not just human life, a healing
takes place in us - a warming - that benefits
us all, human beings included. What if we had faith that seeing
this deeply - and embracing this widely -
were our ticket to becoming as whole as we have ever dreamed of
being?" (p. 75)
Her words are usually directed to the physical caregiver--the
nurse, assistant, or family member ministering to a bedridden
individual. As such, her suggestions are practical, sensitive,
and sometimes confrontational. The caregiver is urged to selflessly
think of the patient's needs. The needs of the caregiver receive
much less attention than the expectations for his/her performance.
"If never in our entire lives we have been granted a caring
word, still we have the capacity to ease others so they do not
suffer as we have -- to be refuge, even if we cannot find refuge."
(p. 131) Many of wish, I am sure, that we could be so giving.
Davis suggests that a "Caring Quotient" may be the "true
measure of our children's education . . . equivalent to the depth
and breadth of their ability to love." She thereby offers
us a new paradigm for living, one which, these days, is most welcome.
I recommend Caring in Remembered Ways to anyone who is
responsible for another's physical care and to those experiencing
loss on any level. It is an especially valuable book for those
practical, grounded folks who may never have considered the subtleties
and intricacies of extreme vulnerability.
© 2001 Ruth Cherry
Ruth Cherry, Ph.D., author
of Open Your Heart, A Mid-Life Fable
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