When I began writing Hands of Grace, I had no clue in what direction it was going to head. I knew the heroine was going to be Rita Dunlap. Those of you who read my Risking Love will recognize her as the annoying, pop-rock chewing, best friend of my heroine. I wanted to give Rita a redemption story, but I also knew she was going to have the same struggles as before, finding love in the wrong places.
And of course, at the beginning of Hands of Grace, she’s made another poor choice, one that looks perfect on the outside, but one that ends up with her in trouble with the law and in danger. When she refuses being moved to a safe house.
That’s when Officer Daniel Winter enters. He’s an undercover police officer assigned to spy on and protect Rita.
Problem was, I needed a strong reason for Rita to refuse the safe house. A lot of ideas flitted through my head, but one kept bouncing back. One that was very personal so I kept shoving it away until I could no longer ignore the story idea God gave me: Rita’s momma has dementia, so moving her would be traumatic.
Dementia isn’t something I’m unfamiliar with. My mother had it, as did my father-in-law, and now my husband—only 58 years old—has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. No way did I want to write about something so close to me.
But God seemed to ask, “Can you think of anyone better to write about the caregiver?”
So, I gave in and I wrote, often approaching the keyboard with a mind empty of ideas, but God always provided words. This isn’t my husband’s story, nor is it my mother’s or father-in-law’s, rather it’s a composite of their stories and others I’ve heard about. Like fingerprints, dementia looks different on each person affected, so you might recognize some behaviors while others won’t look familiar at all.
It’s my hope that this story shines a light on caregivers who face a very difficult battle and often fight alone. Caregivers truly embody Hands of Grace. Caregivers, this story is dedicated to you!