Linda Brendle’s A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos is an account of her time as caregiver to her parents in their later years as their health failed. It focuses especially on a long RV trip that she and her husband took with them. It is filled with accounts of moments that would test the patience of even a saint, and recounts them with both love and honesty. I especially liked the way that the story didn’t flinch when describing incidents that would have most people packing up their folks for the assisted care facility. Linda is very honest about her reaction to these incidents; at no time does she paint herself as a saint for taking on this responsibility. Ironically, I’m pretty sure this attitude actually earns her points on the Saints scoreboard.
The main storyline concerning the RV trip is bolstered by antidotes from Linda’s life that help to put everything in perspective regarding her feelings about the incidents on the trip. Different chapters begin with short Bible verses that are relevant to what is happening in the story, and also reveal how Linda sees these events through the lens of her faith. In the end, it is as much an autobiography of Linda as it is the story of this RV trip. I feel like I know her after reading this book, and am better for it.
There is one very unexpected thing that this story did for me personally. My mother died twenty years ago before ever growing old. She was the glue in our family, and we have never been as close after she passed. So for me, this story was a sentimental glimpse down the road not taken. I found myself repeatedly imaging what these events would have been like for me if my mother had lived and my parents had grown old together. Even for all the hard times, and how difficult it must be to watch your parents’ failing health, I still envy Linda this journey.
I need to mention that this book is also unique as the debut publication for Anaiah Press. As such, I also regarded it as a bit of a crystal ball to peer into the possible future of this start-up publisher. The design of this ebook was excellent, with an excellent rhythm to the different sections balancing white space with type. There were none of the odd section breaks or clumpings of text that often plague ebooks and make them visually unpleasant. The editing, by Jessica Schmeidler, was flawless with regards to typos, sentence clarity, content balance and overall readability. If their first try is this good, then my crystal ball sees only good things to come.