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Monday, May 21, 2012

Folkheart Press Book Lauded by Reviewer

Title: Three Months: A Caregiving Journey from Heartbreak to Healing
Author: J. Dietrich Stroeh
ISBN: # 978-0-9822888-5-6
Genre: Nonfiction First Person Narrative
Reviewer: Caitlin Haley
There are few books today that allow a personal insight into death. Most of today's popular reading material focuses on finding romantic love or overcoming challenges that are far-removed from death. The vast majority are humorous like Nicholas Sparks' popular novels or Chelsea Handler's comic novels such as Are you there Vodka? It's me, Chelsea. Three Months: A Caregiving Journey from Heartbreak to Healing (FolkHeart Press 2012), on the other hand, focuses on author's J. Dietrich Stroeh's first-hand and first-time experience with being a caregiver for his wife of 20 years, Margaret. She was unexpectedly diagnosed with Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer and three months later was gone. About her diagnosis, he wrote, "When the doctor told my wife and I that my wife had pancreatic cancer, we both knew enough about that form of cancer to know it was quite serious. But neither of us knew what the treatment options were, nor did we have a firm grasp of how her treatment would turn our world upside down."
Along the way, they did manage to understand and accept their situation. The poignancy of their time together is succinctly captured in this easy-to-read 108 page paperback book written three years after the author's wife died. Their personal story is interspersed with useful tips and practical resources that Stroeh believed would be useful for all caregivers.
Throughout the first-person narrative, the author's voice is both powerful and moving. So are the challenges that arise almost daily. A successful business man who is used to running an engineering firm that builds efficient and effective structures, he found himself facing the most difficult task of his life. He had to learn to take care of his wife as best as he could knowing that in the end he would still have to say good bye. The book's tenderness is marked by tears, frustration, and unplanned moments of laughter that kept his relationship with his wife vibrant. The key to their success was the realization that life is a gift no one gets to keep forever.
Overall, despite the sadness and grief that come with the death of a loved one, Three Months: A Caregiving Journey from Heartbreak to Healing is uplifting and motivational. The most fascinating parts of the manuscript were the retelling of their actual love story and the author's ability to survive the grief. " As I write this, it has been almost three years since I lost my wife Margaret to pancreatic cancer, and in some ways, it still seems fresh. At the same time, change has been an important part of the healing process. Until you have gone through the kind of loss that breaks your heart and tries to break your spirit, you can't know what gets you through it. "
The author had to abruptly relinquish control and revisit his expectations. Rather than looking forward to years with Margaret, he found he had only hours and months. A pragmatist as well as a romantic, he was forced to come to terms with life's final passage. It is non-negotiable and, yet, can still be met with dignity and humanity.
The book itself grew out of the author's need to keep busy. He compiled the "can do" tips and suggestions while learning how to wait for endless doctor appointment and test results. Thinking about how he could help himself and others in a similar situation, he began to research what options there are for caregivers to get the support and help they need to be able to handle the tasks that lay ahead of them. Along the way, his notes helped him get through some very rough patches.
Stroeh is an engineer by profession. This is his second book. His first published manuscript, The Man Who Made It Rain, chronicles his experience as water district director during an unexpected and tough drought in fertile Marin County, California.
Three Months: A Caregiving Journey from Heartbreak to Healing is available at Amazon (Amazon.com), Barnes and Noble (BarnesandNoble.com) and at FolkHeart Press (FolkHeartpress.com). FolkHeart Press, a boutique publisher located in Northern California, specializes in personal narratives and original folklore material. For more information: www.threemonthsbook.com.

~Reviewer Caitlin Haley recently graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in communications.
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