Daisy MacCallum, a native Scot who came to the U.S. as a young girl, is now seventy years old, living the simple life of a Buddhist at a Tibetan monastery in Pennsylvania. Her grown children, Mac and Jennie, see Daisy's “calling” as fitting right in with the other strange doings of their odd mother’s life. Privately, they refer to it as “Daisy’s Buddhist Thing.”
Daisy becomes seriously ill and decides to let matters of this physical world take their course. But her guru, Rinpoche, the abbot of the monastery where she has been living, reminds her, “You have issues with family, and they have issues with you.” He advises her to resolve these issues and teach them that her passing is a natural part of the transition states of life, death and rebirth.
Daisy reluctantly leaves the monastery and starts the slow and sometimes painful reconciliation. Her son, Mac, with problems in his own family, introduces his mother into that mix, but his wife, Carla, is in no good mood to accept Daisy’s difficult presence. Daisy’s daughter, Jennie, long estranged from her mother, grudgingly accepts Mac’s invitation to join in this “family reunion.” In the steps and missteps that follow, and the back and forth of learning to deal with each other, they begin to come to a new understanding, and Daisy, near the end of her time in the physical world, finally comes to realize that their issues were never more than the individual karmas of each of them, needing to be worked out individually.
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About the Author
He currently resides in New Mexico's Land of Enchantment, where he pursues the craft of a writer of mainstream novels, mystery novels, and short stories. His subjects, varied in place and time, are woven through with the threads of life, of family, mothers and fathers, wives and lovers, children and grandchildren, of love and lost love, of joy and tragedy.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a fictitious book about a family who is preparing for the inevitable death of their mothers fatal illness. Now, it's not as serious as it sounds initially, in fact it's quite vivacious and entertaining. The characters are realistic and believable which makes them relatable and enjoyable to read. Through all the complications it ends up being beneficial. I found the writing to be noteworthy and have recommended it to a few friends who I knew would enjoy reading this type of book. It definitely falls into it's own category which makes it original and unique. You don't have to be interested in Buddhism to read this book, for it is not solely written around this subject matter. The book is powerful and may bring tears to some readers eyes, but it also gives you a good heart warming feeling. I give this book 5/5.
Buddhism, like all great truths, is a paradox. So is my take on this book. The title is "the Buddhist," and indeed the book is intertwined with one branch of Tibetan Buddhism. At the same time, this seems to me merely a device for exploring the dynamics of a dysfunctional family. It is contemporary drama: take a bunch of people, with their faults and peculiarities, and throw in a catalyst. The catalyst is that three years ago, Andrew and Jennie's mother Daisy became a Buddhist. Now she is dying, and has been forced out of the monastery, and has come into Andrew's care. The theme of the story is the reactions and growth of Andrew, his wife Carla and son Sam, and of Jennie who has come to be with them from the other side of the continent. I am very interested in Buddhism, although of the less florid Theravada variety, so, many of the details of Mahayana Buddhism were new to me. I checked, and found Stephen Hazlett's account to be accurate. A very useful result of my having read this novel is that now I realize, the two versions differ only in outward trappings, not in the essence. I don't normally read family dramas (and don't even own a TV), but I'm aware that this theme is very popular in both books and as shows and movies. This one is excellent, with the personalities very distinct, understandable and vividly presented. Although he was a minor character, I identified with thirteen-year-old Sam the most, and wished we'd entered his reality more. The best part of it is the very last, with Jennie riding in a train. Don't read it first though -- it only makes sense as a very fitting finale.