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In the summer of 1833, a devastating cholera epidemic broke out in Kentucky, claiming hundreds of lives. Bestselling author Ann H. Gabhart delves into this sobering time in history in her new novel, River to Redemption. Readers will be captivated by this poignant and moving tale of courage, betrayal, and honor that will stick with them long after they turn the last page.
Orphaned in the cholera epidemic of 1833, Adria Starr was cared for by a slave named Louis, a man who passed up the opportunity to escape his bondage and instead chose to take care of the sick and bury the dead in Springfield, Kentucky. Twelve years later, Louis is being sold by his owners despite his heroic actions.
Adria has never forgotten what Louis did for her. She’s determined to find a way to buy Louis’s freedom. But in 1840s Kentucky, she’ll face an uphill battle. She must stand up for his freedom—and in the process, find her own.
What is ONE thing you’ve learned the hard way so that others don’t have to?
I have to admit this question flummoxed me. I have learned many things the hard way but I couldn’t really think of anything I learned that might have kept someone else from taking the same hard journey to experience which is always the best teacher.
So I am sharing something I learned the hard way that perhaps can let others in the same situation at least see they aren’t the only ones to learn these hard lessons.
I had the best mother in the world. She showered me with love and believed I could do whatever I set out to do, even be the writer I dreamed of being. After a life well lived, Mom passed away at the age of ninety-four, but her last few years were difficult when dementia slowly stole her memory.
At first, it was little things. Something remembered wrong. Sometimes repeating things she had already told me. Worries about things that hadn’t actually happened. These were all very unusual for my mother who had an optimistic can-do attitude. She smiled and laughed easily and remembered everything. Her stories of growing up during the Great Depression became the background for my book, Angel Sister.
So as the odd episodes of memory problems piled up, my sisters and I knew things weren’t right. Things became progressively worse until Mom needed a caretaker around the clock and eventually no longer knew us as her daughters. She drifted in time and was often a teen with the urgent need to go home because her parents hadn’t given her permission to stay away so long. Other times she was a young mother and wife who needed to care for her children and husband. And sometimes she was merely lost in a lonely sea, unable to find her way.
While being one of her caretakers, I learned the hard way. First, those repetitive comments and questions that were the first symptoms of her dementia were a minor thing that shouldn’t have bothered us at all. Secondly, I learned not to try to convince Mom of the truth that she was home or that her family members had passed away. It did no good to confront her with unhappy news that was going to be newly sad to her each time she heard it. I found it much better to simply say Dad was out in the hayfield or that her parents had gone visiting and would be home tomorrow. By the next day, Mom would be in a different time.
I may be a fiction writer who continuously makes up things, but at the same time, I always respected the truth in my daily conversations. So at first, I was uncomfortable telling Mom things that weren’t true. After all, the Bible clearly condemns bearing false witness or lying, but I was confident our compassionate Lord would forgive my evasions of truth that helped keep my Mom from tears. When you are dealing with a person with memory loss, you do whatever you can to keep that person from being unhappy.
Perhaps the most important lesson I learned was to make the good minutes count. To rejoice in the smiles we could still share and the times when Mom was happy. I learned to let the bad times slide away from me like water down a creek. I learned to pray through the hardest times when each hour sitting with Mom seemed to last a very long time. I learned that prayer can make a difference–if not in what’s happening, then in how you can handle what’s happening.
Each person caring for a loved one with dementia who is experiencing what some call the long goodbye or slow death has to find their own way along this dark path. If you are on that path, my hope is that you can find patience and even sometimes smile as you care for someone dear to you who has lost so many of the memories that tie you together.
Order a copy of River to Redemption
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | CBD | AnnHGabhart.com
Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels—The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted—as well as Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, Love Comes Home, Words Spoken True, and THE HEART OF HOLLYHILL series. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky.
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I’ve enjoyed reading about your mother in her later years. She sounds like a lovely person. May you always treasure your memories. Thanks for sharing them with us. Thank you for your giveaway . It has received great reviews on Goodreads.
You know, I do treasure all the great memories of times with Mom, Shirley. I never had to wonder if she loved me and wanted the best for me.
River to Redemption has been finding some favorable reviews. That’s always a good thing for an author to see.
Always good to hear from Ann H.G. I learned so much in the 5-year journey we took w/ my mom down Dementia Lane. Love the pictures. Thank you for sharing.
You do learn what’s important and what not to stress over, don’t you, Anne? That Dementia Lane is one nobody likes to walk down, but sometimes that’s the road that you have to follow. Five years was a long journey for you. Good that your mother had you to walk with her.
Glad you liked the pictures. I have to admit they made me a little teary when I looked at them yesterday.
Looks like a very interesting read. I would love to read it.
Thanks, Darla. I hope you will enjoy River to Redemption when you get a chance to read the story.
Thank you for the giveaway! This looks like another wonderful book from you.
Aww, thanks, Tera. I appreciate your comment. Made me smile. Hope River to Redemption will live up to expectations when you get a chance to read the story.
I was born when my parenrs were in their mid 40s and my mom had her 1st stroke when i was only 4, and passed when I was 21. Actually that age was an answer to my childhood prayers to my Father who loved me before I ever knew Jesus. My oldest sister (18 yrs older) struggled with dementia and passed last summer. Longterm illness, whether in body or mind, takes its toll on a family. BuT so many lessons learned.
The giveaway of this book a treasure.
Hi, Sandy. You had to lose your mother much too soon, but I’m sure she was glad to have the chance to watch you grow up. She might have been saying mother prayers to match yours. You are so right about the hard times longterm illness can bring a family, but with faith, we can find a way through and grab onto some blessings along the way.
It’s a sad thing for all of us to have to go through. Thank you for the advice about not trying to make them faced the sad truth, over and over.
Oh, Ann, I am so sorry about your mom having dementia. As a registered nurse, I know the highs and lows that it can cause the caregivers. The good memories you are left with are definitely what your mama would want you to keep close to your heart. Thank you for sharing with us.
I always knew Mom would want the best for me, Debbie. Often, in the early days of her illness, she would lament that we had to spend so much time caring for her. But we had some good days then. The latter stages of the illness were harder. As you say, ups and downs. I suppose those kinds of times can come with any serious illness, but losing all those memories one holds dear is hard to watch.
This looks like a wonderful read. I haven’t read anything from this author yet, but eager to do so.
It has been really hard to live so far from my family in England. I Know I’m meant to be here and I love my Husband and kids. But its so hard having to rely on my siblings to tell me whats going on with ours parents who are declining in health. I live in Utah and haven’t since my parents since 2005 and my siblings for 35 yrs.
Hi, Kathleen. I do hope you will give one of my stories a try, and River to Redemption might be a good one for the first read. 🙂
That does have to be hard, to be so far from your family and not be able to see them face to face. But you do have to embrace your own family there in Utah. It’s good that you do have so many ways to keep in contact these days. When I’m researching the early pioneer days of our country, I often think of how it was when a child or family member left the east to go to the frontier. They might never hear from that person again. Well, we aren’t in pioneer days now, and I hope you have many good chats via internet with your siblings and your parents.
When I came to The States I knew I would never go back to my Home Country. I was meant to be here. There is comfort in that knowledge. Still I miss the hugs, and talking for hours to my parents, not being able to be there to help take care of them.
Internet and Facebook are great.
Oh I do want to read your book River to Redemption.
I am a Pioneer.
You take care.
It sounds like a really good book.
Thanks, Erika. Hope when you get a chance to read River to Redemption, you’ll like the story.
Your beautiful mama had the most wonderful smile and the sweetest laugh. She was an amazing woman and has passed that down through you.
I can’t wait to read your lastest book. I love your writing.💙
Love Ann’s books! And all the pictures on Facebook, too.
Thanks, Ola. I appreciate you reading my books and joining in with the fun on my Facebook page. I love sharing my pictures there.
My mother had Alzheimers. It is very hard when your own mother doesn’t recognize you. When I was told I needed my second pacemaker, I went to be tested to make sure I didn’t have the start of Alzheimers. If I did, I was not going to get that second pacemaker because I didn’t want my family to go through what we did with my mother.
I know what you mean, Joan, and understand what you were thinking about not wanting your family to have to go through the hard times of Alzheimers. I knew my mother would have hated being like she was those last couple of years, but sometimes there is no choice to be made. Illness just hits us, but I agree with you that I certainly hope my children never have to walk on that dementia path with me.
Thank you for sharing your ups and downs with your precious mother, Ann. It’s not an easy journey but the cherished memories outlast any down times of not recalling who, what or where.
I’m looking forward to reading your latest release. It’s on my TBR list.
Thank you, Marilyn, for putting River to Redemption on your TBR list. I appreciate that.
And you are right about the cherished memories even during those last hard months with Mom. It was a difficult, demanding time, but there was always love.
I am looking forward to reading River to Redemption. I have always enjoyed reading your books. My mother-in-law suffered from Alzheimer’s and she also passed away at 94. My father-in-law took care of her alone as long as he could and then I took over most of her care. My husband was an only child and I just knew I was supposed to do it. It wasn’t always easy but it felt right. My brother was taking care of my mother at the same time 2 and 1/2 hours away. My father had been dead for many years. My in laws and my mother all passed away within 9 months of each other. Our 8 children helped out when they could and it made us stronger as a family.
It’s good when a family comes together to take care of a beloved family member. I’m glad it pulled your family together to care for your mother-in-law while your mother also needed help. Sometimes it does the opposite when family members disagree on how things should be done. My sisters and I made it work with Mom. I also did a lot of care for my mother-in-law during her last years and my father-in-law too. My husband and I lived closest and so it made sense for us to see about their needs. My mother-in-law had dementia too, but she never really got unhappy or lost with it the way Mom did. Care taking is never easy, but as you say, Carol, something that has to be done if you can do it.
It was both inspiring and heart wrenching to read of your Mother and her progression. My Mother, too, grew up during the Great Depression and then married as a young woman during the middle of WWII. I listened to many stories that both she and my Dad told. I so greatly enjoy Ann’s books and actually, just the other day, ordered another one from Amazon. Thanks!
Thanks so much, Cathy, for reading my books. I do appreciate that, and I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed my stories. Mom actually got married prior to the start of the war. Her first child was born in September before Pearl Harbor was bombed in December.
Thank you for reading about Mom. She was a beautiful woman.
Ann…thank you so much for sharing these pix of your sweet mom, as well as your insights. I’m giving some church talks about caregiving for aging parents. Wrote down some of your comments to include in the talk (will credit you!). Just received your newest book and will be plunging into it this month! Keep writing! XO Suzanne
Thanks so much for having me over, Suzanne. Some of these days we’re going to be in the same place at the same time and get to share some smiles face to face. Caregiving is not easy, but I think Alzheimer’s is the cruelest disease on both the person suffering from it and those caring for him or her. But the Lord saw us through and because I had a sister willing to put her life on hold a bit the same as I had to do, we didn’t have to completely give up seeing grandchildren and family. And I wrote a couple of books while sitting with Mom. My sister had a harder time as she lost her husband to a chronic health condition while we were caring for Mom.
Hope you enjoy the new book, River to Redemption. Always appreciate you reading my books and your mom (I think you said it was your mom who read them) too.