Today is my 38th birthday, anniversary of my birth. Also this month is the anniversary of my bad news diagnosis, which has turned instead into a rare gift, one which makes me value each day. September is also the month Gonzo was hit by a car, but lived to bounce back better than ever. I always remember where I was September 11th, 2001, as the summer days turn cool and blue. And, the end of September marks the anniversary of my dad's passing.
He died of Alzheimer's eight years ago on September 26th, 2003. It was a rainy Friday and I had been at the nursing home nearly non-stop for three days, but had gone to run errands, like cleaning his suit for the funeral and buying him a new tie in goldenrod yellow. Then, I went home for a nap. I was sleeping when he died.
For years as his disease progressed and his grasp on reality retreated, I would try to understand where or when in his memory did he think he was? I watched him turn doorknobs in the center of a smooth wall, where there was no door. I listened to him use German, reach for something in mid-air which I could not see, and call it, "Schoen." It was beautiful, whatever he saw. That act of trying to get inside his head and understand my dad is what led to the writing of my book.
When I think too long about anything, I end up writing about it. My blog usually follows a good lunch conversation or a walk with my girls. I brooded about my dad's life and death for years, which has turned into a three hundred fifty-ish page novel. I hope it makes sense to people who didn't live these events themselves. I like that the timing of my book's release date coincides with September, the month when everything happens. Because, even though great tragedies occurred this month, like 9/11, and my dad's passing, my bad health news, and Gonzo's accident, it is a beautiful month, too, to be alive and value each day.