This is not a new title. It was published in 1996 but after I had seen a movie on the Hallmark Channel based on this book, I just had to read it. The movie totally gripped my heart but reading the words and having more detail into the thoughts and motives of the characters totally moved me.
This was not an easy story to read. Deborah Raney has written a beautiful book that deals with the marriage vows "In sickness and in health" and "till death do us part". The story broke my heart from beginning to end. "A Vow to Cherish" is the love story between husband and wife Ellen and Jake. As they are finishing up graduating their youngest from high school and seeing him off to college Ellen and Jake's fairy tale life takes a huge turn when Ellen starts having symptoms of memory loss and waking up in the middle of the night thinking it is morning. At the early age of 46 years old, they are devestated when the diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease is given to Ellen. Trying to save some dignity they hide it from all family and friends as long as they possibly can.
As the story unfolds we not only get a glimpse of the symptoms and progress of Ellen's disease and what it does to her, but Deborah Raney also takes us on a journey of the effects of Alzheimer's on family members. We are taken along with Jake as he goes through all the emotions of love, strength, caring, weariness, guilt and confusion he and the adult children of the family and friends face as Ellen gets progressively worse.
My heart broke first for Ellen and then for Jake as he struggled to do what was right even as he faced the extreme lonliness of watching Ellen deteriorate to where she did not know him anymore. Gone was his life long partner, wife and friend. Gone in everyway but still alive. I was brought to tears many times throughout the book.
Even though it was in every way a difficult book for me because of the emotions it was also a beautiful book to read because of the selfless love story within the story of great pain. I am very glad I read it. It gave me a glimpse into a world that so many people must live in and gave me compassion for the decisions that each family must make and live with and what the spouse of a victim of this horrible disease must go through.
Amazon also has a second book listed to follow this one by Deborah Raney called "Within this Circle" that I would love to read as a follow up to the story but I have not been able to locate it locally yet. And Amazon also has the movie to purchase here.