I wrote about a fictitious cure for leukemia in Essentially Yours (Tall Pines Mysteries, book #2) because my cousin suffers from this dreaded disease and I wanted so badly for someone to find a cure. I can’t help but imagine the day when a real cure arrives, and somehow, I was compelled to write about it.
My grandmother died from Alzheimer’s Disease at the age of ninety, in 1997. This woman was a powerhouse of personality. I based my character Maddy Coté in the LeGarde Mysteries on her flamboyant and gushing mannerisms in Gram’s honor.
Gram was a real rebel for her day. Imagine a “grandmother” DYING her hair BLOND in the fifties! Whoa, now that was a shocker. She always wore colorful outfits, loud chunky jewelry, gave loud smacking kisses, and smashed me to her bosom when she saw me. And worst and most shocking of all, my grandmother drank BEER. Yes, a green bottle of Narragansett accompanied every meal.
Indeed. She was one wild woman.
And I adored her.
I will never forget how the illness stole her away from us, and how I felt the first time she didn’t remember me. I also remember the intensely personal and amazing moment when I sang one of “our songs,” to her, and she came back to me for just a few minutes, calling me by name and saying “Isn’t it nice to be with family?” just before the curtain fell again and she disappeared forever.
Sigh. It still makes me very sad.
So, here I am seventeen years later, making up a miracle cure for the dreaded disease that has affected so many people. I just hope it’s prophetic.
In Lady Blues: forget-me-not, my protagonist Gus LeGarde, befriends an elderly gentleman, Kip Sterling, in a new nursing home for Alzheimer’s patients.
Gus refers to himself as “a hopeless romantic, a Renaissance man caught in the twenty-first century.” No stranger to passion or heartache, Gus lavishes love on his family and dog as he mourns the loss of his lifetime soul mate, Elsbeth, in the first book of the series, Double Forté. He teaches music at Conaroga University, imparting the love of the classics to his young students. Gus is passionate about French Impressionist painters, gardening, and cooking lavish gourmet meals for his family and friends. His rambling, 1811 Greek Revival farm house lies among the rolling hills and bucolic splendor of the Genesee Valley. He plays Chopin etudes to clear his mind and feed his soul, and has an impeccable inner moral compass. By the time we get to Lady Blues, book ten in the series, he has fallen in love with and married Camille Coté, Maddy’s daughter.
Now, back to our story about the miracle.
When a new drug called Memorphyl starts working on Kip and memories start to bubble to the surface in this fascinating fellow, all kinds of trouble is stirred up. But one persistent memory keeps on bugging him, and he asks Gus for help.
Back in 1946, Kip lost the love of his life, Miss Arabella Mae Dubois, affectionately known as Bella, a lusty and talented blues singer he met in the Harlem clubs. Kip is obsessed with finding her, and Gus promises to help.
Now that I think about it, the Bella I created here actually has quite a bit in common with my grandmother, personality-wise. Hmm. Interesting parallels, I think. Bella and Kip, a biracial couple in a very intolerant age, were quite the rebels, themselves.
Wouldn't it be great if someday, somewhere, somehow, we really do get a cure for Alzheimer’s? What if all the memories came pouring back, and patients in nursing homes began to be released back to their families?
I love the idea. Hey, maybe if I write about it enough, it’ll come true someday!
Aaron Paul Lazar
DON’T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU (print, eBook, audio book)
Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, writing books, and a new love story, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming SANCTUARY (2014), DEVIL’S LAKE(2014), and VIRTUOSO (2014).