“We have to park here,” Mom said, as I drove her to the grocery store.
“Why here? Why in this particular spot?”
“Because…when we come out, we’ll know where the car is.”
That was my first clue that Mom’s forgetfulness had merged into something more serious. She always parked her car in the same spot at the grocery store so she could find it when she finished shopping.
“What happens, Mom, if that parking spot is already taken?”
“I just go home and forget about groceries that day.”
Several months later, we heard the dreaded prognosis of Alzheimer’s disease and our lives changed. We knew what to expect, because Dad suffered through ten years of trauma-induced dementia before he passed away. Mom, his caregiver throughout that Long Goodbye, now needed to receive care.
As I thought about my parents and their experiences through this dreaded disease, the germ of an idea began to form. What if a woman minister had the same experience? What if she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s and had to resign from her pastorate? What would be her greatest struggle?
The story began to evolve from a base of pure creativity and my need to grieve. I started typing and listening to my main character’s voice. Reverend G whispered ideas and revealed to me her greatest fear.
As a minister, what happens if I forget God?
Within six months, I had completed “The Unraveling of Reverend G,” but I knew I wasn’t finished with her story. As my mother’s Alzheimer’s journey continued, so did the story of this gutsy little minister who honestly prayed, “Oh God, oh God, I can’t stand it.”
CrossRiver Media sent me a contract for the book and soon I was scheduling book signings and speaking events, talking about Alzheimer’s and caregiving. I tried to share hope with my audience and at the same time, kept writing the second book.
Two years later, I finished “Intermission for Reverend G” and then a year after that, “Final Grace for Reverend G.” CrossRiver Media published the entire trilogy and urged me to continue to reach out to caregivers.
I started a group on Facebook, “Sometimes They Forget.” With the wide reach of the internet, members joined and told their stories. Though my heart broke with each post, I knew Reverend G and I could use our faith to encourage these caregivers who needed just one nugget of hope to make it through another day.
The comments on my blog, on the Facebook group and on my monthly newsletters confirm that caregivers everywhere need to find hope. When I teach at writers conferences and as I speak in various venues, I meet people everywhere who know someone with Alzheimer’s. The Reverend G books help them realize they are not alone in the journey and somehow – they will make it through one more day.
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Bio: RJ Thesman has been a writer since she flipped open her Red Chief tablet and scribbled her first story. She has over 700 publishing credits in various magazines and her work is included in 13 compilations, including 5 Chicken Soup books. Besides the Reverend G trilogy, she has also published 4 nonfiction books.
As a Certified Life Coach, Thesman enjoys teaching writing workshops and coaching writers to find their personal writing plan. Thesman lives in the heartland of Kansas with her adult son and an elderly cat.
Thesman’s author page is on Amazon at: http://amzn.to/1OgWSMA. Follow her blog at: www.RJThesman.net, her Facebook page at: http:www.facebook.com/RJThesman?fref=ts and Twitter at: https://twitter.com/RJThesman.