"Ellie could think of about a thousand questions. Everything
from Are you taking the Buick? to Where are you going to get the money
to live in New York City? But two questions rang loudest in her head,
over and over, like the bonging of great church bells: Why don't you
want to be our mother anymore? and How will Dad take care of us when
In the first paragraph of Ann Martin's Here Today, narrated by
young Ellie Dingman, we learn that 1963 was the year her family began
to fall apart. The book is her attempt to tease the strands apart to
figure out exactly what happened. It's a heartbreaking narrative of a
young girl having to come to terms with a very distant mother.
Ellie's mother, Doris Day Dingman, is haunted by an inner
awareness that there must be more to life than cooking, laundry,
packing school lunches, and doing the other chores assigned to mothers
in the early 60's. Because there are few opportunities in her small
town to make herself larger than life she creates whatever she can
whether it's a fashion show in a department store or a parade complete
with Harvest Queen.
The assassination of Kennedy is a turning point in Doris' life.
The parade with her Harvest Queen role is cancelled. She becomes
obsessed and overidentified with JFK's first lady widow. Life can be
too short. Hopes and plans can be shattered in a moment. If she
doesn't leave a town that feels too small to nurture her ambitions...
...she may never get the chance.
But what about the family she chooses to leave behind?
On a personal note, Transgender Day of Remembrance was commemorated
fittingly and touchingly at UMaine. There was a candle light vigil in
front of Fogler Library. It was followed by a solidarity supper of
spaghetti, garlic bread, and hot spiced cider served up with love up
to Wilson Center.
A great big shout out goes out to the transgender community and their
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