4 out of 4 stars
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When she lost her dad, Jaqui O’Donohoe sought to tell the world about what a wonderful family man his dad was. In the process, her memoir Reflections Through the Periscope offers a few practical tips on how to nurture special bonds between parents and their children. And rather than use concepts or abstract rules to convey her parental hints, O’Donohoe has shared some memorable family experiences that transpired between her and her dad, Peter Clark.
As a submariner, O’Donohoe’s dad’s work saw him away from his family for extended periods of time. Even so, O’Donohoe’s memories of her dad involved him being home, rather than away. This is because her dad had a way of turning those moments he was around into memorable ones that included his children, O’Donohoe and O’Donohoe’s little brother, Nic. When she was 10, O’Donohoe recalled how her dad took them out camping. Even though they were all members of the Scouts movement, their dad took a roundabout way through the marshlands surrounding a certain lake rather than take the official route to the camping ground. O’Donohoe notes how they enjoyed that outdoor experience, including eating the tastiest pizza their dad had ordered for them in the middle of nowhere, and the embellished stories he related.
In today’s age where families are busy, I enjoyed reading O’Donohoe’s narrative because it described how some of her family members found quality time to bond with each other. Furthermore, I was able to relate to the moment O’Donohoe learned that her dad had been diagnosed with a few long-term diseases, including prostate cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), diabetes, mesothelioma, and liver psoriasis. This is because I have had my own share of traumatic family experiences in the recent past. As the firstborn in my family, I especially remembered how I had to help mom care for my invalid dad when he was incapacitated because of a motor accident.
A further and equally important theme was that of the effect of toxic relationships on family bonds. O’Donohoe’s parents separated when she was 14. Before this, her parents used to argue a lot, and, on occasion, her mom wouldn’t let her dad into the house. At 16, O’Donohoe almost committed suicide, something she blamed on her deteriorating relationship with her mother. In all these upheavals, I appreciated the family support structure that had been provided by O’Donohoe’s dad and stepmom, Julie.
In summary, this book’s editing is almost perfect, save for one editing error I identified. Since I didn’t find anything disagreeable with the book, I rate it 4 out of 4 stars.
To finish, this memoir explores the challenges the family institution is currently grappling with. There is now an increased likelihood of family members caring for terminally ill patients because of lifestyle changes or upturned because of upheavals created by remarriage or divorce. I, thus, recommend the memoir to anyone interested in exploring these topics. At the same time, the subject of the death of a loved one features prominently in this book. So, anyone likely to be affected by such a discussion may want to give the book a pass.
Reflections through the Periscope
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