Thursday, August 11, 2011

The book titles for the grandmother and her grandson

Okay, okay. I’ll tell you the books that I recommended to the grandmother in Hospice and her grandson.

But first, a story.
When I was a science teacher I had a few activities that I enjoyed sharing with my students about how science works, about how we take observations, form them into hypotheses, test the hypotheses, then develop theories that fit the data. In these activities I would present the students with information, and only the information that they asked for concerning a specific situation. I encouraged them to make hypotheses from the information, and test it, ask more questions, gather more information, then to create a theory that explained all of the information that they has acquired. At the conclusion of these activities inevitably the students would ask, demand, that I tell them the Real Answer. My response was that the answer was what they developed in their process.

“But is it Right?!” they would demand. And I wouldn’t tell them, because what is “the Right answer?” Do we really know, to anything?

I presented one of these activities to the school board, at their request, one evening. They expected the same thing, that I tell them the Answer at the end. They even made statements like, “But, we are the school board. You can tell us. We want to know what the Right answer is.”

A few of the school board got it, caught the learning, that their answer was what they had in the end.

With that caveat, and somewhat against my first intentions, here are the books that I suggested to the person who asked.

Lessons for the Living: Stories of Forgiveness, Gratitude, and Courage at the End of Life, by Stan Goldberg. I found this book to be remarkable, the stories of the author and the individuals that he assisted through Hospice are profound. But, each person’s story requires several pages of reading. If they have the time for it I think that both the grandmother and her grandson could have fruitful conversations about each person’s story in this book.

The Art of Dying and Living: Lessons from Saints of Our Time, by Kerry Walters. These stories are even longer, about 25 pages per individual person’s story. A distinction between the individuals recounted in this book compared to the first title, above, is that in that title listed above the individuals are mostly ordinary, every day people, while the ones in this book are more famous people. Some of us gather more insight from famous people, while others learn more from “people like us.”

Grief: A Month of Meditations, from the publishers of Forward Day By Day. An advantage to this little volume is that each selection is short, one page in length. If the grandmother does not have long to live and the grandson does not have much time to spend with her, then perhaps this one-a-day for 28 days will suffice. A disadvantage is that this book is about grief, about the loss of a loved one. The grandmother has not yet died, although they both, no doubt, are grieving.

And, Final Gifts, that is temporarily out of stock.

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