The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman is a heart wrenching story about death, the importance of family, saying goodbye, but most importantly Hope.
Mattie Tice has had a wonderful life for the most part. She was a talented painter and garden designer who although was never blessed with any children has had the love of her life Don for the past 50 years. But Mattie is dying. She has ALS and with each passing day although her mind is razor sharp, her body is failing her. But she is not ready to let go.
Rose is a broken woman who has lost all hope. She lost both her parents, their fruit stand, and is hanging on by a thread trying to stay in the house she grew up. She is a single parent to young daughter Jeri.
Rose becomes the caretaker to Mattie when Don finally agrees he needs some assistance taking care of her. A long forgotten hope chest is uncovered in Mattie’s and Don’s lake home, Hope Dunes, which they are selling. Through items long forgotten in the chest, such as an apron, a vase and even an autograph by Judy Garland, Mattie begins to reconcile her life with death.
Rose begins to see hope from Mattie’s stories and Don who has been grieving the loss of his wife since her initial diagnosis, begins to have hope that she will be at peace and he will be with her again one day.
And a special lesson…sometimes you can have more than one family in a lifetime.
The Hope Chest captures the heartbreak of an illness such as ALS and all that comes with it from losing friends who don’t know what to say or do, to the effects such a condition has on the body and mind. But with all that said “hope” is the driving force in the story for each character as they face terrible challenges. This book will certainly tug at your heart.
The book is now out in paperback and kindle.