Sitting in the doctor's office with her husband, Mickey Guimarin wasn't sure what the next few years of her life were going to look like. All she knew then was her husband, Bill, had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
It's one moment in more than a handful of decades, which Guimarin shares in her debut novelette, "Wind Beneath My Wings: A Journey to Remember." The book starts with the day they put a name to Bill's memory lapses and takes readers throughout their journey, including their college days, the moment she decided to quit her job to take care of him full-time and learning to accept help.
"I knew there was a need for people to understand how to care and what took place during this horrible time of this disease," Guimarin said. "Things you just have to be careful not to do, not to say."
She said she was lucky in that Bill remained "sweet as pie" throughout their marriage, even as he lost his independence or struggled to remember basic aspects of their day-to-day lives. Guimarin said if she ever did feel overwhelmed, she would take a moment to step outside and remember her sister's advice, words from a woman who went through the same struggle.
"She said, 'You must take one day at a time,'" Guimarin said. "That saved me so many times. Because you know, when you hear that (diagnosis), you think, 'Down the road, is he gonna forget me? Is he gonna do this? Is he gonna do that?'"
She said taking life one day at a time became her golden rule, a reminder that she didn't know what tomorrow would hold and today was the day on which to be focused. She hopes the advice helps others, too.
Guimarin spent two years working on the book, getting help from family, friends, a writer at Athens State University and a book designer in Decatur along the way. She said "Wind Beneath My Wings" helped her grieve after Bill's death, and she believes he would be just as proud of her work.
"He would be so proud," she said. "He was just that kind of man. He was the most unselfish man I'd ever met in my life, and he was a brilliant coach. ... The love I had for him, people don't find that very much."
Bill was a coach at several high schools, eventually retiring from Tanner High. As if to further put to rest any doubt Guimarin might have had about his support for her writing, she said she received a sign one day while meeting with Athens State writing consultant Jordan Eagles to discuss the novelette.
They were walking to Founders Hall when Guimarin spotted a red rose sitting in a rocker on the porch, she said. At Bill's funeral, she said she left a rose just like it on his coffin.
"I don't know how it got there, but that was a whole thing I wrote about," Guimarin said. "I could not believe it."
The book is available on Amazon as a paperback or ebook. Guimarin described it as a tribute to Bill and Jesus, because "I couldn't have made it without them."
And, if she had to go back to her college years and start over, knowing how it would end, "I would do it again."