Feeding Mrs. Moskowitz/The Caregiver
Barbara Pokras/Fran Pokras Yariv

Syracuse University Press
May 18, 2010
Hardcover/217 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8156-0978-0
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". . .a pleasure to read and reread."

Moving and funny tales of getting older and the people who care enough to help.

Natalie Holtzman hits Golde Moskowitz crossing a street with her car. Golde is not seriously hurt, but hurt enough to need to go to the hospital in Natalie’s car. Natalie, pretending to be Golde’s daughter takes her home and cares for her, fixing food, setting out pills and doing the laundry. Golde, elderly and a bit confused, talks to ghosts, like her husband Joseph, and Natalie feels so badly about hurting her that she takes her home. For the first time in years, Golde sleeps a good and deep sleep. Things are about to get difficult. Golde’s landlord, Myra, has called the police because Golde is missing and she has an idea that she didn’t go with Natalie willingly. The insurance agent wants to talk to Natalie about the accident and the nurse at the hospital thinks Natalie meant Golde no good. So, where is Mrs. Moskowitz during all of this?

Ofelia works as a caregiver in an assisted living facility and she does not like the way her patients are treated by the management. The only thing to do is find a way to help her elderly charges and deal with the management so that Ofelia’s charges get what they need and deserve.

Sisters, Barbara Pokras and Fran Pokras Yariv, share their visions of the world of the elderly and their caregivers in two novellas. Barbara’s tale of Feeding Mrs. Moskowitz has a cinematic feel and panorama while Fran’s The Caregiver with its vignettes connected through Ofelia is more of a situation comedy. In each, the dialogue is sharp and quick and the characters memorable. Together, the novellas are a literary meal with a rich and earthy Merlot followed by a buffet of tasty appetizers and a crisp Pinot Grigio. Neither is to be missed.

It is Golde’s memories and the way she relates to the world at large, as well as Natalie’s need to help and thus redeem herself and ameliorate her guilt about her mother, Rose, that made Feeding Mrs. Moskowitz such a pleasure to read and reread. Ofelia’s good heart and native wisdom and the antics of the still sharp and mischievous residents as they find ways around the assisted living facility rules kept me smiling through the tears. I hope that when I am in need of a caregiver I find people like Natalie and Ofelia. I am glad I met them both.

Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell