The Recorder – Book Review: ‘My Odyssey with Donna’

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Published: 01/21/2022 16:27:10

Modified: 01/21/2022 16:26:05

The Broadway musical “Hamilton” has a line that never fails to win audiences’ applause. Alexander Hamilton and the Marquis de Lafayette hit each other by agreeing: “Immigrants: we do the job!

Jose Peczon’s memoir “My Odyssey with Donna” illustrates how an immigrant contributed to our local community. Born in the Philippines in 1933, Peczon spent nearly four decades as an ophthalmologist at Greenfield.

The subtitle of the book is “A Filipino Immigrant Family’s Path to Success”.

Peczon founded the Greenfield Eye Center and pioneered technology that made cataract surgery more efficient and safer. He helped consolidate hospitals in Greenfield and Turners Falls. And he has helped many patients, both in Franklin County and in his native country, regain better health.

The Donna of the book’s title is the author’s wife of over 60 years, who died in 2019. Her widower describes her as a formidable nurse, caregiver, mother, athlete and hostess.

According to the acknowledgements, the book is an extension of a Peczon manuscript originally created only for family and close friends. He thus leans abundantly on the lists of the members of the family of the author as well on the maternal side as on the paternal side. It also recounts childhood memories, both happy and sad.

The book, published by Fulton Books, is imperfect as a memoir for the general public. Peczon repeats himself frequently, and as a non-writer he lacks the storytelling skills to do his life justice.

For example, he opens the book with a description of the murder of his father in 1948. The event was obviously tragic for Peczon and those close to him, but he cannot quite convey to the reader the shock and horror of the bereaved family.

Despite these flaws, the book will speak to local readers. Peczon describes the difficult life of his youth, dealing in particular with the Japanese occupation of the Philippines.

Later in the book, describing his pioneering work with cataract patients, he shows bravery and flexibility that clearly came from his youth. His experiences in the face of adversity and his determination to succeed in his new home clearly paid off for the doctor and for his patients.

Jose Peczon appears both likeable and likeable. The personality of his wife, Donna, is a little harder to gauge. However, they obviously adored each other and she comes across as a strong figure. Indeed, strong women – including Peczon’s mother and grandmother – play an important role in these memoirs.

Overall, any reader can learn from Peczon’s energy, enthusiasm, and devotion to his wife.

Tinky Weisblat is the award-winning author of “The Pudding Hollow Cookbook”, “Pulling Taffy”, and “Love, Laughter, and Rhubarb”. Visit his website, TinkyCooks.com.

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