And now for the questions! And I’m late with them, as with everything these days….. sorry Mel!!

  1. Something that struck me about this book in particular was the rich, descriptive way the author handled Jacob as an elderly man. His frustration was so apparent, his physical manifestation so perfectly described, that of all of the elements of this book Jacob the Elderly is what stays with me. You had the sense that Jacob didn’t foresee his latter years being the way they were, and his almost “ride off into the sunset” ending perhaps what he had envisaged for his end. Do you think about what’s at the end of the road someday? When you think about it, what do you see for yourself?

I do think about it – I think everyone must think about it from time to time, especially those of us with aging family members, or sick friends. The longer we’re here, the more people we know who are going through all sorts of struggles. I’ve worked in child and adult cancer centers my whole working adult life, so I probably have a skewed vision of things (a headache is a brain tumor, that sort of thing), and I honestly don’t know what I see for myself. I think anyone who has not been able to plan their lives as they would like (infertility) knows what a crapshoot life is. I know what I would like to happen, but at this point I’m willing to try to set up the board as best I can and see how the pieces fall. I’m not sure anyone ends up quite where they thought they’d be…….

  1. On page 109, old Jacob complains about how his family keeps secrets from him: “And those are just the things I know about. There are a host of others they don’t mention because they don’t want to upset me. I’ve caught wind of several, but when I ask questions, they clam right up. Mustn’t upset Grandpa, you know… Why? That’s what I want to know. I hate this bizarre policy of protective exclusion, because it effectively writes me off the page. If I don’t know about what’s going on in their lives, how am I supposed to insert myself in the conversation?… I’ve decided it’s not about me at all. It’s a protective mechanism for them, a way of buffering themselves against my future death…” Reading this, I could see myself in both Jacob & in his family members, both in respect to our infertility situation and other matters. Whose viewpoint do you relate to most in this passage and why?

I see both sides, but I guess I identify more with the family. People always seem to tell me things, whether I want to hear them or not. To my knowledge, anyway! 🙂

With infertility, I didn’t tell many people what was going on as a way to buffer everyone. To protect others, from having to deal with me falling apart when there is nothing on earth they can do to make it better, and to protect myself from having to tell others the bad news – yet again. Also, to try to protect myself from feeling so helpless and pitiful. With some terminal patients I’ve known, I’ve seen them try to protect their families from bad news, because they don’t want them to be hurt by their passing. I’ve also seen families not give patients bad news (like metastasis) because they’ve been hurt enough, they’re so sick, and the therapy’s not really going to change unless they choose to stop altogether. I think there is a need for that sort of thing, but it varies from person to person. But I also feel that the whole truth should be told as often as possible, to whoever it applies to. Easier said than done, though…….