“My initial intent in writing was so that family and friends could remember Dale,” said Gillett, the first neurologist in Marietta. Gillett started Marietta Neurological Associates in 1971 and grew the practice with Dr. Peter Re, who joined him 1973.
Gillett described his wife, who he met on a blind date in 1962 while attending Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, as beautiful inside and out. “I was just smitten from my first moment of being with her that first night,” Gillett said. The couple married in 1966 while Dale was a senior at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta. They have two grown sons, Brent and Brian, and five grandchildren.
“She had a great zest for life. She was always positive in her thinking,” the Marietta resident recalled. Dale enjoyed many interests including nature as reflected in Gillett’s writings. She worked as a model, high school English teacher and real estate agent for Harry Norman Realtors.
Dale was first diagnosed with breast cancer in spring 1993 and it returned in April 1995. From 2000 until her death in 2010, she experienced recurring metastasis on a regular basis.
After Dale died, Gillett joined a bereavement group that encouraged journaling and writing. He began writing as a way to heal. “Writing was cathartic,” he said. “I had never written a poem in my life.”
The self-described “poor English student” wrote the poems found in his book from the heart. “A lot of the poems just flowed. I have no idea how some of the things came to me,” he said.
The first poem Gillett wrote after Dale’s death was “Amaranth.” He said, “It means it’s a plant that’s everlasting and never dies. I wanted to keep Dale with me, so I wrote “Amaranth.” That was the beginning of the writing.”
What started as grief writing eventually took on another purpose. Gillett brings awareness of the need for cancer research and donates all proceeds from the book to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Not only is the book a wonderful tribute to wife, mother and friend, it transcends to other loss offering comfort to those who have experienced the death of a loved one. He said, “I was blessed from the very first to fall in love with (Dale). Our hearts were sewed together for so many years. To take care of her to the end and to have her with me and to hold her in my arms, that was a blessing.”
“Quarter-Peeled Oranges” is available in Marietta at DuPre’s Antique Market at 17 Whitlock Ave.; dk Gallery at 25 W. Park Square, Barnes & Noble at Avenues of west Cobb at 3625 Dallas Highway; Smith Gilbert Gardens Gift Shop at 2382 Pine Mountain Road in Kennesaw, Atlanta at Charis Books and More at 1189 Euclid Ave. at Little 5 Points. It can also be ordered online through Southern Lion Books at www.southernlionbooks.com.
There will be a book signing today at the Marietta Wine Market at 18 Powder Springs St. from 5 to 7 p.m. Call (770) 919-1574 for more information. A second book signing is Feb. 7 at WellStar Kennestone Women’s Center at 677 Church St., in the reception area next to the breast cancer gift shop, from noon to 3 p.m. The book will be available at the center.