FULL BOOK SUMMARY:
David and the Old Man is a true life story about a father and his oldest son. The father is a rugged, independent, stubborn and self-serving man who grew up on a farm where growing food became the only way to survive. He carries this farm mentality into his own family situation and has an enormous garden which primarily provides for his wife and four children. He grows and stores enough food for his family, all the neighbors and friends.
Beyond his own belief, the Old Man’s first son is not the rugged individualist he pictured his first son to be. David, as a youth, appears to have all the normal tendencies of any other kid, but does not fully develop physically and has a dislike of certain foods. The psychological battle between father and son is further nurtured by the Old Man’s dislike for David’s passive and un-father-like personality.
David develops anorexia nervosa patterns in the early 1960’s and becomes a full-blown anorexic case by his late teens. What is unusual about this? David is a male, completely rare for this disease and exceptionally rare for that time period in which it occurred.
The family battles the Old Man’s will and lives with a son or brother who displays no regard for himself or those close to him.
“David already had some sort of quirk in his dislikes for certain foods and eating but the reality of this disease seemed foreboding. The anorexic tendencies started to surface. The confusion it would bring into two lives–and how to deal with it–was ominous.”
“Of all the worldly, ironic things that could happen in one’s own lifetime, I’m sure my father did not expect to have a son who would just not eat! He perpetuated the new nick name “Food Giant” in recognition of his status as a grower and producer of massive quantities of food. He fed the entire neighborhood, gave huge quantities of garden produce to whoever stopped by, and uttered the word”jist” ( “eat” in Slovakian ) every time anyone sat down to eat.”
“One day, he could simply not pick himself up off the couch. He began to moan because he was so weak. David painfully moaned in a half-conscious state from the pain of starvation, something none of us thought we would witness right in our own home.”