On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

I wrote this late Sunday night or very early Monday morning according to the clock. It had been a long day, but a good one. My church held its Third Annual Chili Cook-Off Sunday after the morning service. It was lots of fun, and it was a lot like the family reunions I attended as a child.

Planning for the event began several weeks–or even months–in advance. People who don’t normally consider themselves cooks pulled out their recipe folders, and if they didn’t have recipe folders of their own, they consulted Mom or Grandma or Uncle Joe who always made the best chili in the world. Discussions were heard in the hallways and parking lot about which cut of meat was best, which secret ingredient was sure to capture the taste buds of the judges, and of course, whether real chili should have beans or not. There was also a little bit of friendly trash talk going on, but it was all in fun.

Although chili was the main attraction, lots of other things were needed to round out the meal. The call went out for Fritos, cheese, crackers, chopped onions, hot dogs for the kids, tea, and lots of desserts. A shopping run was made to stock up on bowls, spoons, and napkins; and tables were set up in the Fellowship Hall to accommodate as many diners as possible.

David and I were among the first to arrive Sunday morning, but when we carried our contributions into the kitchen, there was already an air of excitement and anticipation along with the smell of simmering meat and spices. Smiles and hugs were exchanged, even between the fiercest of competitors, and there was love.

After a morning of worship that filled our spirits and a fun-filled lunch that filled our hearts and stomachs, David and I hurried home. We finished packing and headed east where we will be spending the week with his sisters, settling his mother’s estate and making decisions about the earthly possessions she left behind when she passed away a couple of months ago. When we were halfway there, his sister sent us a text.

Instead of going straight to Mom’s house, why don’t you come here first. The Saints play at 7:30, and we’re cooking hamburgers.

When we arrived, the crowd was much smaller–only six of us–but there was the smell of good food coming from the grill and the air of excitement that football stirs in diehard fans. There were lots of smile and lots of hugs, and there was love.

I didn’t win either prize at the chili cook-off, but it was a really satisfying morning. The Saints won, but even if they hadn’t, it would have been a satisfying evening. All day long there have been smiles and hugs and love; what more could a person ask for.



winding road Cover 25 percentA LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos

Available for $6.99 at:

B&N // Kobo // iTunes // Amazon // Smashwords // Google Play

About the book:

Sometimes reality really bites. Alzheimer’s has wrapped Mom’s brain into knots, vascular dementia has attacked Dad, and, instead of carefree retirees, we have become caregivers. Regardless, dreams die hard, and we somehow stumbled into the purchase of a forty-foot motor home. That’s when all four of us set out on this seven-week trek across sixteen U.S. states. Now, Dad stopped-up the toilet again, Mom wet her last pair of clean jeans, and David just announced that he was hungry. My head is beginning to pound, and I know this isn’t going to be the easygoing retirement we’d imagined for ourselves.

Linda Brendle takes you on a roller-coaster ride of emotional and spiritual challenges that many families are facing right now. Co-dependency, mental breakdowns, and finding love after divorce are just a few of the issues weaved into this journey of caregiving. Whether you’re looking for an inspirational story to help teach you how to “let go and let God,” considering becoming the caregiver for one of your own parents, or are just looking for an entertaining travel book, this story is sure to strike a tender nerve.

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