The week before Christmas, I had to rush my mother to the ER. She was having trouble breathing and in obvious respiratory distress. The hospital staff worked quickly and efficiently to get her comfortable, and then the ER doc tested her cognitive abilities.
Dr. - "Angie, do you know when were you born?"
Mom - With an annoyed look, "Of course. May 24th, 1933."
The doctor looked at me. I nodded. We were off to a good start.
D - "Who's the president?"
M - She thought a moment and then, "Kennedy."
The doctor shot me a glance.
D - "What year is it?"
M - Another pause and then, "1967."
The doctor didn't even bother to turn his head. He asked a few more questions and then made some notes. I knew exactly what he was writing. Diagnosis: Alzheimer's Dementia. Prognosis for the coming years: Bleak.
After a four-day stay in the hospital, Mom recovered nicely, and I was able to take her back home. On my visit this past weekend, I wished her a Happy New Year. She just stared at me blankly and scuttled away with her walker. The turning of the calendar meant nothing to my mother, but it means alot to me. In 2012, I'm determined to re-focus my efforts on counting Weight Watchers points. I will unwrap that new X-Box Kinect fitness program with the personal trainer and get moving. I won't stop till I master all the complexities of the Kindle Touch that my nephew, Chris, gave me for Christmas. I'll Facebook more and better. I'll dust off my neglected manuscript-in-progress and set goals for future publication.
I still have the mental capacity to appreciate that a new year is fresh beginning. I have time with Mom and my family, and time for friends like you. What does 2012 mean to you? I'd love to hear.
ON THE BOOK FRONT:
Merely Dee is off to the printers tomorrow! I anticipate a debut date around the middle of this month. What a great way to start off this year! I'll keep you posted on the actual arrival date.
Many people have asked me about the title. A book about the Eastland boat disaster with a title like a children's picture book? What's up with that? I'll attempt to explain.
When I started writing the novel in the fall of 2009, I didn't have a title. Like Hemingway, I had a list of possibles, but nothing solid ...until I typed:
I edged past all the mourners pressing to get through the front door and sagged against the painted exterior of the house. Momma stood beside me, gently stroking my hair. She didn't say anything. She didn't need to. Her quiet presence was all I required. I closed my eyes and thought about Mae and Momma, two very different women. Yet, I loved them both. Momma was solid and strong, while Mae had been daring and passionate. I wasn't like either of them. So then, what was I?
Only what I could be, came the reply. Merely me. That would have to do for now.
The title hit me like a thunderclap. Merely me morphed into Merely Dee (after my protagonist Delia "Dee" Pageau) and my novel was born. A mere girl lives through a terrifying disaster and comes out the other end only to find that surviving is just the beginning. She discovers her true character in the challenges ahead and learns that she is not merely anyone. She is more. She is a survivor.