“Listen to me: everything you think you know, every relationship you’ve ever taken for granted, every plan or possibility you’ve ever hatched, every conceit or endeavor you’ve ever concocted, can be stripped from you in an instant. Sooner or later, it will happen. So prepare yourself. Be ready not to be ready. Be ready to be brought to your knees and beaten to dust. Because no stable foundation, no act of will, no force of cautious habit will save you from this fact: nothing is indestructible.”
This paragraph is at the heart of Evison’s story, and reading it you may well think he has written a tragedy. In fact, this is a funny, quirky, irreverent and bittersweet tale of loss, love, heartbreak, friendship and perseverance.
Ben Benjamin is 39 years old, estranged from his wife, long unemployed and broke. We hear mention of two children whose whereabouts is somewhat unclear — but, sadly, becomes clearer as the story progresses. In order to stave off impending financial disaster Ben becomes a licensed caregiver by taking the class Fundamentals of Caregiving, a “twenty-eight-hour night course [he] attended along with fourteen middle-aged women at the Abundant Life Foursquare Church right behind the Howard Johnson in Bremerton.”
Ben’s first client is Trevor, an angry, demanding, wheelchair bound 19-year-old with advanced Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Trev’s dad left when he was three, right after his diagnosis, and Trev lives with his mom. Trev spends his days stubbornly locked in a routine of watching the Weather Channel, eating waffles, going to the mall, going to the movies once a week and, always, thinking about girls.
Ben quickly realizes his training was quite inadequate to the task at hand.
Of course, things become complicated and a raucous road trip to Salt Lake City to visit Trev’s bumbling father ensues. That is when things really become complicated and we encounter a whole new cast of characters. Somewhere along the road Ben finds that caregiving has become caring — inconvenient, painful, senseless, and thankless caring, and that forward is a possible direction even though you may not know what is waiting for you along the way.