We’re approaching the conclusion of Sheila LaGrand’s Remembering
for Ruth serialized novel, and the pace is quickening.
The story so far: Paul and Margot Goodharte live in Calfornia, and are caring for Paul's mother, who suffers from Alzherimer'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. He 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 attached to him, naming him Zorro. The dog turns out to be a specially trained schutzhund, and obeys numerous commands -- in German. Amelia is invited to spend some time with the family, and when she arrives, she runs into immediate conflict with Matthew. And then the family discovers Ruth is missing.
Part Six – Police,
Pizza, and Paparazzi – focuses on the search for Ruth. The police are
called in, Mrs. Delsey (the church busybody) gets involved and organizes the church’s youth
group, and Matthew and Amelia set conflict aside while they search together for
Matthew’s missing mother. The publicity-hungry mayor arrives, as does the
news-hungry television news crew. The church busybody is only too happy to
point the finger of blame at Margot Goodharte (author LaGrand has her do this effortlessly
– drawing a picture of a church “type” we may all have experienced).
And then there’s the dog, Zorro – the dog sense something the
people don’t. I kept wanting to shout, “Follow the dog! Follow the dog!” But
you know how characters in a story are – they never listen to the reader.
I suspect LaGrand is enjoying writing the story. The basic
premise – loving and caring for a patient with Alzheimer’s disease – is a serious
one, but LaGrand keeps it from overpowering the characters and the plot. She
uses occasional moments of laughter and even hilarity to leaven the
seriousness. And she includes recipes of the foods mentioned in the story -- in this installment, they are pizza, crock pot oatmeal, and "Shredded Fiesta Chicken."
I’ll have to wait a few weeks to find out what happens to the
church busybody. I have some suggestions, and know a place LaGrand can buy tar