Back in 2008, Ruth Fitzmaurice’s husband Simon was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. His career was just starting to lift and they had three small children so Ruth put her writing ambitions on the back burner to care for him and them. Events took a more dramatic turn when he was given four years to live and then they had had twins. Even though Simon can only communicate using his eyes and technology, he still managed to direct My Name is Emily. Ruth regularly heads to a cove in Greystones, Co. Wicklow with two close friends, Michelle and Aifric to swim in the cold seas. She calls this tribe ‘The Tragic Wives’ Swimming Club’; and gives her a necessary respite from her other tribe of children and carers for Simon.
Even in the most tragic of circumstances, she can see hope, even though she has periods of time where she feels raw and vulnerable. Ruth has a roller coaster of emotions living with Simon and his motor neurone disease. It is tough, but not as tough as the moments when she has to answer the children’s questions as what is happening with Dad, especially when she doesn’t have the answers. The sea swimming becomes those moments when she can be herself and relax with her friends. Her beautiful, sparse prose gets to the very essence of what is happening with the various tribes. It is a moving book too, with several poignant moments.
She is one tough lady.
Since this book was originally written Simon Fitzmaurice sadly passed away in October 2017. He was a celebrated filmmaker who even after he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease still continued to make films. My Name Is Emily was about a teenager who decides to free her father from a mental hospital and starred Evanna Lynch, Michael Smiley, and George Webster. He made a documentary about his life called It's Not Yet Dark and it tells us how he coped with everything and how he spoke to the outside world using eye-tracking software.
R I P Simon.
I am just one of a few on this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour. Please do take a few moments to have a look at the other blogs or search for the #IFoundMyTribe hash-tag on Twitter to read more about the book.