We’ve reached part four in Sheila Lagrand’s Remembering for Ruth: A Room for Amelia.
To recap the story so far:
Paul and Margot Goodharte live in California, and are caring for Paul’s mother, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Paul is a pastor; his black sheep brother Matthew shows up and seems to have had something of a black-sheep shedding experience (or maybe that’s shearing instead of shedding). Matthew becomes interested in next-door neighbor Sue, and the family has a coincidental meeting with Matthew’s estranged daughter Amelia. The dog of former neighbors of the Goodhartes is left to them to care for, and Ruth becomes closely attached to him, naming him Zorro.
In A Room for Amelia, a dog trainer to help the family with Zorro. Actually, the trainer is there to help Margot overcome of fear of dogs, a result of being threatened by a dog when she was a child. The trainer discovers that Zorro is a specially trained dog, known as a schutzhund. Originally designed for German shepherds, the schutzhund program is what we associate today with dogs trained for police work, and includes many other breeds (Zorro in the story is an Airedale).
Lagrand also uses this installment of the serial to show part of the range of experiences an Alzheimer’s patient can have. Ruth moves quickly from normal lucidity to almost complete forgetfulness and back again. She’s talking normally with her family at the kitchen table one moment and then walks out of the shower dripping wet and into the hallway the next, forgetting she’s dripping wet and naked.
Also developing is the relationship between Matthew and Sue. Matthew’s daughter is coming to visit and will stay at Sue’s house, and Matthew helps Sue clean and paint the room. During the painting Sue tells Matthew of her difficult childhood and failed first marriage, and the accidental death of her second husband.
The next installment is coming in July, and I’m waiting to see what will happen when Amelia arrives, what role Zorro’s police training is going to play (I suspect there is one), and how Sue will overcome her fears about marriage to continue what is obviously becoming a love story with Matthew.
Photograph of an Airedale terrier by Charles Rondeau via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.