BOOK REVIEW: SIXTYFIVE ROSES, BY HEATHER SUMMERHAYES CARIOU
Posted Aug 24 2008 3:01pm
“What I finally realised,” Pam softly continued, “was that God gave me life, and it’s up to me to live it the best I can, for as long as I can. All we can do now is to love each other, and keep hoping the doctors find something new.” My sister hugged me, and looked away. Her eyes turned steely and she set her jaw. “Don’t worry,” she promised. “I’m not giving up.”
Sixtyfive Roses is a memoir written by Heather Summerhayes Cariou, whose sister, Pam, suffered from Cystic Fibrosis. The quote above was the one I could relate to the most in the book. It just perfectly sums up Pam’s attitude, as well as that of thousands of Cystics across the world. Pam passed away in 1980, at the age of 26, which was pretty old for a CF in those times. (And I guess it still is… I wouldn’t have made it to 26, maybe not even 24) Pam’s last words to her sister, was an instruction to write their story, and Cariou has done a fantastic job… one which her sister would’ve been VERY proud of.
Their relationship as sisters is also very close to my heart, as it made me think of me and my sister’s relationship a lot. A part that really touched me, and describes their close bond so well, is where Cariou thinks about what she would miss about her sister… “I would miss her laugh. I loved how we made each other laugh. We didn’t laugh with anyone else the way we laughed with each other. Her laughter was contagious, a jumper cable wired straight to my heart. We laughed at everything, at nothing; our laughter swooped and turned like a roller coaster. We laughed until we were weak in the knees, until we had to hold each other, until we fell to the floor and ran out of breath and she coughed so hard we had to stop laughing, but still we couldn’t”
Another statement that I could really relate to was: “It was not fear of death. Pam was afraid of an unused life.” How true this is. Even after my transplant, I still feel this way. So throughout the entire book, I could really relate to Pam, and I thought Cariou did an outstanding job, not only in portraying her own feelings, but also those of her sister.
Having had this transplant however, it was so sad to read the book and realise that there was no hope for Pam in the end. Her only hope was a peaceful death. At a certain place in the book, someone they knew had received a kidney from her sister, and Cariou states that “I ran back and forth between their rooms as they recovered, wishing medical science would reach the point where I could give Pam a lung and say, ‘She breathed, she breathed right there on the operating table!’ and Pam would say, ‘You have no idea how wonderful it is to be able to breathe! People take breathing far too much for granted!’” It was also strange reading about her death, and knowing that I was (according to my Dr) quite close to that, and yet by the grace of God, I have been spared. It feels like I have won the biggest jackpot in the world, being given a second chance at life.
Sixtyfive Roses just makes you so grateful about everything that you take for granted, and it is one of the best books I have ever read, although I may be biased of course! I certainly recommend it to absolutely everyone though.