Reviewer Sandra Shwayder Sanchez: Sandra is
a retired attorney and co-founder of a small non-profit publishing
collective: The Wessex Collective with whom she has published two short fiction collections
(A Mile in These Shoes and Three Novellas) and one
Her most recent novel, The Secret of A Long Journey is soon to be released by Floricanto Press in April 2012 and her first novel, The Nun, originally published by Plain View Press in 1992 is being reissued in a 2nd Edition with additional material by PVP in March 2012.
Author: David Dosa, M.D.
Author: David Dosa, M.D.
Oscar the ordinary cat with an extraordinary gift may have been the inspiration for this book but Making Rounds with Oscar is about a lot more than this sweet sensitive cat. It is a little bit a gerontologist’s personal memoir, and a lot of good advice on letting go, not to mention some extremely useful information about the effects of dementia and what family members can do to make their loved one’s passage easier on themselves and on the patient.
Expecting this to be more about the cat and not quite so much about the patients, I felt privileged to learn several important things about the process of accompanying my own mother on her last journey not quite a year ago. I guess I could say I felt validated by some of the more positive stories included in this book. For instance, I had often felt that the best way to enjoy quality time with my mother who didn’t always know where or when she was (or who exactly I was) was not to fret over her departure from a consensual reality but to join her in her own individual reality. We did indeed spend a lot of time laughing, humming old songs and even dancing. On page 18, when an administrator asked the son of a woman in the Steere House nursing home how he could remain so cheerful when visiting his mother he said: “Oh, I said goodbye to my mother a long time ago. Now I’ve just fallen in love with this little lady.” And I thought I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Of course we were lucky to find a really wonderful place for my mother to spend her last years and Steere House in Making Rounds with Oscar sounds like a wonderful place as well, after all they keep cats! It is good to learn that current scientific study supports the intuitive sense that some of us have had for a long time that cats (and/or dogs) can comfort dementia patients. They can be in the moment with these people who have lost all sense of time and what part of their life they are in. We didn’t bring our dog the day my mother died, we thought it would be traumatic for her (the dog) but now I am sorry as I realize our dog needed the closure and would have understood. I already understood a lot of what this book teaches, but I also learned a lot. I highly recommend Making Rounds with Oscar to cat lovers and to people who are making decisions about how (and where) best to care for parents or spouses with dementia and to those among us contemplating what we might want for ourselves when and if we ourselves succumb to dementia.