In the sweet by and by book
The Sweet By and By: A Novel
Instead, he tackles what could be called the interim by and by, the thing so many of us fear—life in a nursing home and the final stages of aging. And he manages to take some of the sting out of what can be a painful experience. Raised in the South, Johnson was close to his four grandparents and spent much time with them, especially his grandmothers when they entered nursing homes in North Carolina. We begin to experience the nursing home through their eyes. The usual suspects show up—the unsavory staff members, the impatient and uninvolved family members, the bouts of ill health. But something hopeful emerges as well.
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Set in a nursing home in rural Johnston County, N. She is filled with dignity, wit and the grace she was born with as the daughter of North Carolina tobacco farmers. Though infirm from painful arthritis, she can still spar with others offering intelligent commentary, displaying integrity and independence. Just ask Lorraine, the God-fearing African-American practical nurse who takes care of her. Lorraine, a humble but venerable middle-aged woman believes in treating the elderly—even those suffering from dementia—with complete compassion and respect. She and Margaret exchange many dialogues, keeping them both on their toes and bonding through trust to be forever friends.
Johnson's bittersweet and often humorous hen-lit debut portrays the lives of five very different Southern women: compassionate Lorraine, bossy Margaret, grief-stricken Bernice, ambitious April and brusque Rhonda. At the center of this character-driven novel is Lorraine, a nurse at the nursing home where Margaret and Bernice live. As the three women drift into friendship, hairdresser Rhonda arrives to take a part-time job, and the older women begin to change her life.
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Sign up for our newsletters! Recently, a music ensemble in which I participate accepted an invitation to perform at a local nursing home during the December holidays. Although many of our members enjoyed the opportunity to connect with its residents over music, others privately confessed a reluctance to do so, saying that nursing homes make them emotionally uncomfortable.
Thank you! Lorraine, an African-American practical nurse, suppresses traumatic memories of an abusive husband and the crib death of her firstborn by concentrating on creating a semblance of normalcy for her charges at Ridgecrest, a North Carolina nursing home. Rhonda, painfully conscious of her poor white origins, does hair at Ridgecrest once a week, and, spurred on by Margaret, Lorraine and Bernice, gradually gains self-acceptance. After the adventure proves too much for Bernice she passes away in her sleep in the hotel room , the story loses whatever impetus it had. Letters left behind, written by Bernice to her beloved younger son Wade after his death in a car crash, convincingly if anticlimactically document her descent into madness.