After losing his wife of almost fifty-three years to cancer, David Gross adopts Charlize, a German shepherd rescue dog, buys a camping trailer, and the two begin their travels. They explore the West, visiting parks and vistas, rain forests and deserts, family, old friends and new. Accidents, adventures, sadness, joy, problems, and peace populate their journey of discovery. Ever patient and sensitive to her companion’s feelings, Charlize remains close, attentive, and comforting, especially when needed most. And at every stop, she greets strangers with a loving heart and wagging tail, showing the way to embrace life. In Travels with Charlize: In Search of Living Alone, David Gross tells a gentle and open story of recovery. He knows he must go forward after his wife’s death and face a new future, but that road carries rough spots. Memories spring up to hold him back. Revisiting friends reminds him of who no longer accompanies him. And home, to which he must return, still stores a profusion of painful memories. But Charlize’s presence keeps Gross steady and willing to see a brighter tomorrow around the bend. In the end, that light shines strong for both.
As memorable as it is beautifully written.
Five Star Review on Amazon by By By Whistlers Mom [TOP 500 REVIEWER]
After reviewing over 600 books, this is only the second time I’ve accepted a free copy for review and (so far) I’m batting a thousand. Dr. Gross is an experienced writer and he knows how to tell a story. In this case, the story is his own, beginning with the death of his beloved wife. Widows are the object of our deep sympathy, but widowers are treated as though their loss is somehow less significant. After all, a man can easily find another wife, right? It’s good for us to be reminded that a loving partnership of many years cannot be replaced and that women don’t have a monopoly on grief and loneliness.
Surprisingly, it’s not a morbid or depressing book. Although stunned by the loss of his wife, the author realized that he was still of importance to others – sons, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, his brother’s family, and his many friends. He decided that his first months of grief would be easier if he left the home filled with memories and traveled. He bought a truck and a pull-behind camper called “The Frog” and acquired a German Shepherd. A rescue dog who had been abused, Charlize quickly became a treasured traveling companion and (like all German Shepherds) took very seriously her twin roles as guardian and comforter. If you have ever loved an animal, this story will resonant with you.
But Dr. Gross is not just a widower and a dog lover. He’s a scientist with a world view that I can only describe as skeptically idealistic. He’s a member of the generation between the “Greatest Generation” and the Baby Boomers. He was too young for WWII and the Korean War and too old for Vietnam. What other country dates it’s generations by wars? He’s a family man, although the extent of this is slow to come out. Unlike a woman (who would build her story around her children and grandchildren) he mentions his family only in passing at first. But gradually it becomes apparent that his relationships with his sons and their families are deep and loving. He also cherishes friendships – many of them dating from his college years – and some of his best stories are of visits to his friends. He never loses himself in his grief, but always remains very much alive to what’s going on around him.
He’s also a Westerner – born and bred – and he’s fascinated by the history of the West and by its present and future. He doesn’t see the West with the rose-colored glasses of a new-comer, but with the eyes of experience and love. Having little first hand knowledge of the Western U.S., I found his descriptions, explanations, and musings as interesting as anything I’ve read in a long time. This is a wide-ranging book and one that will appeal to many people for many reasons.
I was sent a free copy of this book in paperback in exchange for an honest review. If you have a device that supports color photographs, the ebook version is an even better choice because you’ll get the full benefit of the beautiful pictures. On the other hand, you can pass the paperback along to friends and family when you’ve finished and (trust me) you’ll want to. It’s too good a book to keep to yourself.
About the Author
David R. Gross graduated from Colorado State University’s veterinary school in 1960 and was in private practice for ten years. He enrolled in graduate school and earned a M.Sc. degree in 1972 and a PhD degree in 1974 from the Ohio State University. He taught and did research at Texas A & M University; College of Veterinary Medicine for sixteen years then became Director of the Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery Research labs at the University of Kentucky, College of Medicine for five years. He retired in 2006 after twelve years as Professor and Head of Veterinary Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Dr. Gross is a Fellow of the Cardiovascular Section of the American Physiological Society. He published over ninety papers in refereed scientific journals and over a hundred abstracts in proceedings of scientific meetings. He co-edited three multi-authored textbooks and the third edition of his single author text, ANIMALS MODELS IN CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH is in most medical libraries. Since retirement, Dr. Gross has been busy writing both fiction and non-fiction. He published a self-help study and learn guide; YOU CAN NAIL IT, and a memoir of his first year in veterinary practice; ANIMALS DON’T BLUSH; this most recent effort, MAN HUNT, is published by Whiskey Creek Press. All are available as e-books from all major vendors and in print form. He also writes a regular column ASK THE EDMONDS VET for MyEdmondsNews.com.