Authors: Pete Delmonico & Virginia Nodhturft
Reviewer: Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD
This memoir, ostensibly a novel, should be a movie, at least the first 100 pages of it. Triumph and tragedy, heartbreak and heroism, romance and rejection…it has all this and more.
The small-town son of an abusive, alcoholic father perseveres to make a success of his own life, even if he cannot save his whole family, especially his sorely abused mother.
Good looks and bad behavior add up to a father who cannot be trusted with drink, dough, or women, a man who terrorizes his family during an era of little recourse and few resources for those so badly treated.
Our hero, “Jack Long,” survives through intelligence, outstanding athletic talent, the help of a sympathetic coach, and, much later, the aid of a classmate with a big heart and extensive nursing expertise. He not only survives but eventually thrives, marrying his high-school crush, enjoying a fulfilling marriage and a successful career.
A happy ending? Not so fast. Jack’s wife has a stroke that incapacitates her, leading to her placement in a nursing home when Jack’s home-care efforts prove inadequate. For eight years he visits her twice a day, but her discouragement drags him down, and she becomes nearly suicidal.
Joel Osteen’s ministry connects with Jack, and with the encouragement of “Mary,” a former classmate shocked by what has happened to this once-healthy and once-prosperous friend, minister, ministry, friends, and faith pull Jack up from his depression and despair. A long struggle seems to raise his wife to acceptance of her situation, only to have her give up and soon after, die.
The narrative ends with Jack’s starting to contact more former friends and to ponder where he should live and with whom.
There are poems and lyrics written by the authors that address the emergence from “Plato’s cave,” where that philosopher imagined prisoners who could only see shadows rather than reality until they, like Jack, broke free to enter the world of the living.
The book ends with valuable lessons learned and other resources.
Any reader will be inspired by the examples of Jack and his friend Mary in overcoming the great difficulties that threatened to imprison Jack in Plato’s cave.
I have the good fortune of knowing one of the authors, Dr. Nodhturft, wife of my best friend, Phil Nodhturft, Jr. My congratulations go to her on the publication of her second book and on the success she has had in enriching, perhaps saving, the life of her co-author.