TITLE: “The Road Home”
AUTHOR: Tommy Tenney and Mark Olsen
Naomi, the mother of two sons, Lonnie and Mel, finds friendship, adventure and sadness with her two daughters-in-law as they travel from Las Vegas to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. What brought Naomi to Las Vegas? What shady jobs did Ruth and Oprah have there? This is the story of three very different women.
As Mel was fighting for his life, would Lonnie visit him? Lonnie was an alcoholic and not dependable, but they were close as brothers. What was Mel dying from? Why was Ruth, Lonnie’s husband, in the hospital at this same time? How was Lonnie killed?
After a double funeral for her sons, Naomi’s journey begins with Ruth. Where were the ashes scattered? Why didn’t they have an urn of some kind instead of Styrofoam cups? Why was the chosen location so important to Naomi? Why did Oprah stay in Las Vegas? Why did Ruth choose to travel with Naomi? If Naomi’s past was as painful as she said, why would she return to her home place?
Traveling in a 1976 Chevy Impala was a challenge, causing many problems. Like what? Once they had to stay two days in Georgetown, Colorado, to have a complete brake system installed. How did they get money to pay that bill? How did they get rid of the man stalking Ruth?
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During their travels the two women share their background stories with each other. Ruth finds out Naomi was a Mennonite who married at the age of 17 to Eli Yoder. They lived with Eli’s cousin. What happened when Eli was in the Selective Service for two years that caused Ruth to move out of the cousin’s home? Where did she go? Why did she leave her lifestyle? Would she ever be welcomed back by her own people? What tragedies did Ruth experience at a very young age? How would Naomi support herself? Neither of the two Mennonite groups Eli and Ruth lived in supported living the English life. What a horrible thing occurred by the youngest sister, Katie? Why were her two brothers fugitives in Canada? As most of the family moved to a new settlement in Missouri Ruth and Eli moved to Utah, and later she went to Las Vegas. Unemployment and the economy worsened conditions for several families and a big reason many had to move on. Praying became a survival technique for Naomi.
Ruth and Naomi traveled one week before reaching Bethlehem. They experienced a lot of car problems along the way. Lancaster County felt like home to Ruth, too. Why? How were the two women welcomed in Bethlehem? Why wasn’t Naomi shunned? Was the trip back home a disaster for Naomi and a waste of time? What did the visit to the courthouse reveal? Naomi’s mother and siblings were invited to visit. Did they accept the invite? How did Naomi die?
Now onto Ruth’s background: She had arrests for DUIs, no license, and was an illegal immigrant. How did things change for Ruth after she married Bo? Would they be able to pay for the home place of Naomi? Because Ruth was Lonnie’s wife she was entitled to the farm. She became the matriarch of the area and the sole owner of Green Dragon Farms. Why was Bo arrested and spent a week-end in jail? How did Bo die?
Moral of the story: Should any of us stray from the right path of life we are never beyond hope. The way can be found and values restored.
Becky Stakston is an avid reader from Westby.