Ruth’s tribe are her lively children and her filmmaker husband, Simon, who has Motor Neurone Disease and can only communicate with his eyes. Ruth’s other ‘tribe’ are the friends who gather at the cove in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, and regularly throw themselves into the freezing cold water, just for kicks.
‘The Tragic Wives’ Swimming Club’, as they jokingly call themselves, meet to cope with the extreme challenges life puts in their way, not to mention the monster waves rolling over the horizon.
An invocation to all of us to love as hard as we can, and live even harder, I Found My Tribe is an urgent and uplifting letter to a husband, family, friends, the natural world and the brightness of life.
I found My Tribe is available just now in ebook and hardback. It will be available in paperback on the 28th June. You can purchase a copy here.
I was so excited to receive a copy of this book and was really looking forward to reading it as I spent time last summer in beautiful Greystones and was looking forward to reading about how Ruth and her tribe got so much out of this gorgeous place and the strength they find in each other.
I loved eating at the Happy Pear in Greystones and found their philosophy on life so inspiring too. Dave and Steve also swim regularly in the bracing Atlantic in Greystones
and I find their words about their daily sunrise swim matches the mood of Ruth’s book so well.
‘Our swimrise routine is one of the best things to have come out of last year. It is the perfect combination of so many of the things we value in life – people, community, a connection to nature, showing up, overcoming fear, grabbing hold of the day and all with a really special sense of togetherness and joy. Plus, like lots of the best things in life, it’s totally free!’
I found Ruth’s memoir so inspiring. The full details about caring for someone with MNS is upfront, honest and direct. In it, she encourages us to just ‘dive in’ to the situations life throws at us and even though we might feel scared, we should embrace that feeling. She writes:
“I stand on those steps every time with raw fear. Your brain screams no! Steer past your brain. This makes no sense. That’s why it makes perfect sense.”
This is a book that has such a vivid voice, you’ll close the final page feeling like you’ve met Ruth in person. She’s not only astonishingly honest and direct, for a book dealing with such an emotive issue, she’s also incredibly funny. Friendship is one of the main things that keeps her going amidst all the things in her life which are outwith her control – where even her house isn’t her own as there are nurses there 24/7 Her absolute saviours are The Tragic Wives Swimming Club, made up of Ruth’s friend Michelle, a forensic psychologist and mother of four, and her childhood friend Aifric, an architect. Michelle’s husband, journalist Galen English, a keen cyclist, crashed his bike in 2014 leaving him paralysed and in a wheelchair. Ruth and Michelle became even closer as a result of their shared experience.
Plunging into the sea is not just escapism, but a chance to be fully in a moment with no stress or things to be done, just you and the elements, the perfect essence of living in the now. I loved the story of her ‘mid life tattoo’ where she describes her son saying that praying to Poseidon made more sense than praying to any of the Catholic saints. The descriptions of her swims are perfectly described, but they are only one of the reasons this book is so good. Her descriptions of family life post-MNS diagnosis – including their decision to expand their family are so humanly drawn that you’ll feel like you are sitting in a cafe, with some of that fantastic coffee that Ruth enjoys so much, hearing it from her across the table – it’s heartwarming in the best possible sense as it’s so human. It’s hands-down the best book I’ve read this year and I think everyone should read it. You can read more about Ruth’s story here
Thanks so much to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the blog tour, she always knows that books that I’ll really love and I doubt I’ll read a better memoir in 2018. Make sure you look out for the other posts on this blog tour to see what these other bloggers thought of it
Writer On The Shelf
Ruth Fitzmaurice was born in 1976 and grew up in Co. Louth, Ireland. She was a radio researcher and producer when she married film director and writer, Simon, in 2004 and had three children. In 2008, Simon was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and given three years to live. Simon went into respiratory failure in 2010 and was accidentally placed on a ventilator during an emergency procedure. He decided, against medical advice, to keep the ventilator; Ruth and Simon went on to have twins in 2012. In January 2016, Ruth wrote her first piece for the Irish Times about family life and a new passion, sea swimming. She lives in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, with her five children Jack, Raife, Arden, Sadie, Hunter, a dog and a cat. Simon passed away in October 2017.