The Song of Sadie Sparrow
Creating a save haven for the elderly within the confines of a nursing facility is difficult and at times challenging for the staff and the residents that are housed there. Some decide on their own that they need more extensive care due to illnesses, inability to walk and care for themselves or in the case of Sadie Sparrow her daughter decided this would be the best placement for her. Hearing their opening conversation, Dana her daughter seems pleased with herself as if after leaving Sadie in the hands of the staff she would handle the financial end and be done with the important part finding time to connect with her mother at this home. The Hickories at first glance seems more like a country club then a nursing home. The setting is magnificent and when you join the residents for their meals your mouth will water. But, hidden behind some of the closed doors you will learn and hear stories that will make you wonder whether this is truly the best place for Sadie and the rest of those living there.
Sadie felt deserted by Dana when left there and called her but she never returned her call. Meeting several other residents she joined the puzzle club and was really great at putting them together with her new friend Eve. But, meeting Elise and Papi her grandfather was one turning point as Papi and Elise took to Sadie and in her heart, Elise hoped the friendship would blossom. But, her grandfather was over medicated and Elise was distraught having to deal with the doctors at the home and his primary who would make sure the medications were readjusted.
Meg Vogel needs to move on since the death of her husband Gil. Her writing skills just might land her a unique job at this nursing home. Meeting her you immediately realize that what she is about to do will not only give her a feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment but will bring joy to the many residents that she meets. Enlisted to interview all of the residents that are willing to talk with her about their lives, she’s agreed to create their individual biographies and publish them. Allowing them to speak about their life’s journeys will help keep their mind’s active and give them a way to share their childhoods, teens years and more with their children, grandchildren and many readers.
Sadie, Elise and Meg are all looking to feel useful, needed and wanted by others in their families and with those they encounter. Sadie’s daughter Dana seems to have forgotten she has a mother and is too absorbed in her own life with her daughters. Meg is just finding her way back into life after losing Gil and now she has the challenge of trying to create biographies of the residents in this home. Elise is caring for her grandfather and a chance encounter with a man named Jessie might change it all. Each one connects with the other two and things in their lives change as they hope and search for their true callings. This is a Christian fiction novel and many references are made to various passages in the Bible and when Sadie decides to attend Bible class and is the only person who attends, she feels absorbed in the teachings and hopes that other will follow. Mentioning it to her new group of friends she gets varied reactions but when Elise bumps into the instructor things might take on a different turn.
The author presents an insider’s view of what happens in a nursing facility. Sadie becomes worried that she might be having a stroke. Her neighbor’s accident seems suspect. Other incidents with one nurse allow readers to become leery about unseen things that might be going on within the luxurious walls of this home. Volunteers and workers view the patients in different lights and some care while others are there just to get paid. Meg while completing her biographies allows readers to get to really understand Sadie and the other residents, their past lives, their worries and why so many of them although in a place with many people still feel abandoned and alone.
The struggles each person has and the feelings they express as Elise and Jamie decide to go out for dinner and Dana comes to pay a brief visit to Sadie along with her girls. But, within that visit you can tell that they don’t even realize they are hurting her by saying things that goes against all that Sadie stands for. Money and things rather than warmth and love and kindness. It’s as if they came because they felt obligated not because they care about their grandmother.
Added in Charlie and Beulah join the Bible Group as we become concerned about Sadie’s health and what Dana infers to Meg is insulting.
The turmoil within Meg boils over as she and Elise both have their eyes on Jamie but when you get to know him better you begin to wonder just what kind of a person he really is deep down. Meg seems more centered and about to voice her opinions about him and yet she cannot let go of Gil or his memory. Sadie learns the meaning of prayer and forgiveness but when Eva turns ill she begins to wonder about her own mortality.
Eva passes and the funeral is conducted in an ornate funeral home attended only by Meg from the home. The dispassionate service leaves you wondering why families do not get up and speak and at least honor their loved ones. Nursing homes require money and you learn something about what happens when the money runs out. Frightening to say the least.
The story continues as the biographies are getting done. Lucy has to approve them but you can feel Sadie’s loneliness and understanding that her daughter finds her presence or wanting to see her as an inconvenience. Added in she resents that she grew up in a poor area and yet she had a loving mother who was home to care for her. Sadie you remind me of my mother and I would have been proud to call you mom or grandmother.
Meg’s turmoil within herself to accept certain religious beliefs and to understand even herself as she and Elise come to terms with their friendship in a somber manner. Elise and Jamie are married and his decision to remain at his present post and not leave cements their relationship. But, what happens to Sadie is disheartening and her passing leaves room for speculation as to what really happened to her. Dana her daughter appeared at the funeral but was distracted by someone else.
People in homes that do not have any family members need the love and care of those that work there to show them that they are needed and wanted.
Elise’s Everlasting Column makes a big difference for those that write to her and her final decision with what she wants to do with her life is heartwarming.
The ending will leave you trying to understand the mystery behind what happened to Beulah and to Sadie. This gives everyone an inside look at nursing homes and care. Meg’s friendship with Sandra seems like a friendship of convenience as author Kitty Foth Regner presents an honest and first hand memoir of there women Sadie, Elise and Meg that just wanted to be loved, needed and cared for. As you hear the final words of Sadie delivered to Meg you will understand that some bonds as it says on the back cover will change lives forever and will not even be broken in death. Listen carefully and you too will hear The Song of Sadie Sparrow loud and clear!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine