In the Company of Grace

A Veterinarian's Memoir of Trauma and Healing

2022
Author:

Jody Lulich

The son of a Black mother and white father overcomes family trauma to find the courage of compassion in veterinary practice

In the Company of Grace is Jody Lulich’s moving memoir about finding courage in compassion and strength in healing—and power in finally confronting the darkness of his youth. He explains his path to veterinary medicine and how caring for helpless, voiceless animals amidst his own shame and pain provided a lifeline, and a chance to heal himself as well.

Rising to accept a prestigious award, Jody Lulich wondered what to say. Explain how he’d been attracted to veterinary medicine? Describe how caring for helpless, voiceless animals in his own shame and pain provided a lifeline, a chance to heal himself as well? Lulich tells his story in In the Company of Grace, a memoir about finding courage in compassion and strength in healing—and power in finally confronting the darkness of his youth.

Lulich’s white father and Black mother met at a civil rights rally, but love was no defense against their personal demons. His mother’s suicide, in his presence when he was nine years old, and his sometimes brutal father’s subsequent withdrawal set Lulich on a course from the South Side of Chicago to the Tuskegee School of Veterinary Medicine in Alabama to an endowed chair at the University of Minnesota, forever searching for the approval and affection that success could not deliver. Though shadowed by troubling secrets, his memoir also features scenes of surprising light and promise—of the neighbors who take him in, a brother’s unlikely effort to save Christmas, his mother’s memories of the family’s charmed early days, bright moments (and many curious details) of veterinary practice. Most consequentially, at Tuskegee Lulich rents a room in the home of a seventy-five-year-old Black woman named Grace, whose wholehearted adoption of him and her own stories of the Jim Crow era finally gives him a sense of belonging and possibility.

Completing his book in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, Lulich reflects on all the ways that race has shaped his life. In the Company of Grace is a moving testament to the power of compassion in the face of seemingly overwhelming circumstances.

Cover alt text: Four rectangles with photo of Grace in upper right and author with dog at lower left. Title and author in upper left and lower right, respectively.

Jody Lulich is professor of veterinary clinical services and internal medicine at the University of Minnesota, where he holds the Osborne/Hills Chair in Nephrology/Urology and is director of the Minnesota Urolith Center. He is a classical pianist and lives in the Twin Cities with his husband.

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