When I was a little girl, my mother would leave notes for me around the house. And she would always sign them, “I love you desperately.” Three weeks ago, my mom called me at 5:30 a.m. from her hospital bed to remind me that she loved me. And she called it out to me as I was leaving her house two Sundays ago, the last day I would ever see her. My mother died a week ago on Thursday, March 21, after a relatively short, but ugly battle with cancer. It is a sad time for my family and for those who were lucky enough to be a part of my mother’s world. There will never be another person like her.
This morning, WordPress reminded me that today is my three-year blogging anniversary. I can still remember the day I started this blog as a way to jump-start my way out of an awful writer’s block. It worked. I managed to get my first novel written and published, and my mom was there every step of the way. She read Baby Grand as an eBook — the first eBook she’d ever read, proudly downloading the Kindle app software onto her computer all on her own. She sent emails to all her friends telling them about Baby Grand. This morning, I found this one, sent to an Atlantic City chum and cc-ed to me:
“How are you? R U gong this weekend? Just an fyi. Dina’s book is on Amazon. Here is the link to go on Amazon and request the book either on a kindle or right on the PC. It’s only $1.99 and I have to tell you I read it in 3 days. It’s THAT good. Not because she’s my daughter but because it’s THAT good. I read it off the PC and it was perfect for me. You can enlarge the font if necessary.”
She gave a copy to her Atlantic City slot host, demanded to know why some of my friends and family had not yet read the book, needled my dad, a thriller lover, for taking so long to read the eBook (although he’s a hard copy kind of guy, my mother insisted he read the eBook rather than wait for the paperback that was coming out a few months later). During the last days of her life, I contacted her oncologist to inquire about my mom’s health. When he answered the phone, I said, “Hi, my name is Dina Santorelli, I’m Pat Santorelli’s daughter.” He responded, “I know who you are. I have your book.”
In her pain, my mom carried copies of my book to her doctors’ offices, handing them to her oncologist, her renal doctor, and their office staffs, copies she had obtained in October when she wedged her bloated feet into high heels so she could attend my first book signing at Book Revue in Huntington, N.Y.
Part of the reason I decided to self-publish Baby Grand was because I wanted to share the excitement of my first book with my parents as well as my children, and not wait around for a traditional publishing deal which could take years to happen, if it happened at all. I knew it was a special time for us, and realized suddenly that time was fleeting — my mom had recently undergone a hysterectomy to remove a cancerous tumor, which, in the end, would return and ultimately lead to her demise.
It is very difficult to think about my life, moving forward, without her here. As I wrote in the acknowledgments of Baby Grand:
To my Mom, who has always been my greatest champion and told me she would read my book even if it were written on a napkin. You have made me everything I am and truly are the wind beneath my wings.
I miss you, Mom. We all do. And I will always love you. Desperately.