Like the crocheted blanket coming undone on the cover of this novel, the lead character in The Unraveling of Reverend G is watching her mind disengage. And the emotional pain causes her heart to cry silently, “I can’t stand it.”
Reverend G (short for Gertrude) has always managed her difficult life with grace and courage and, until now, with all her memory intact. But the insidious and premature onset of Alzheimer’s has completely thrown this associate pastor into life-altering questions. Will her loved ones still love her? Will she turn “looney?” Will she lose the joy of God’s love? Or, even worse, forget about God? These are fears she lives with—and cannot stand.
Bravely facing an uncertain future, the 62-year-old minister, with the support of her adult son and daughter-in-law, prepares to move into a facility where she cannot wander off. Is she now a prisoner? Is her life over? But God has surprising and unexpected answers for Reverend G as it seems her ministry is still very much alive. It has just changed.
I don’t think it was by accident that I recently brought my e-reader to my own mother’s nursing home room. Very ill with the flu, my 98-year-old mom needed some extra TLC that day. In between offering my mom sips of soda and encouraging her to take her medicine, she slept peacefully while I read The Unraveling of Reverend G.
There was so much truth in this novel: The honest portrayals of family members, friends and caregivers dealing with dementia on a daily basis; the pain of watching loved ones as they slowly lose the building blocks of their memories; the brick & mortar of the patient’s thoughts slowly crumbling away. Where once a child’s hand was held by the parent, the mother or father now relies on the encouragement and guidance of the adult child.
Author RJ Thesman paints it all through the eyes of a woman with dementia. It is brave, brilliant and beautiful.
The loving appreciation of each phase in a person’s life is celebrated, whether the child in the womb or the child in the old and frail. This is a book that should be read by everyone, but especially by “the caregivers who so patiently watch over those who sometimes forget.” These are the tender warriors to whom this amazing story is dedicated. A must read.