My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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springing along

I spent from Thursday to Sunday in Ottawa, visiting my 85-year old mother and her nearly-89 year old sister, Do. Do had a bad cold which my mother promptly caught, so I spent much of my time serving tea and making vats of Jewish penicillin – chicken soup. There’s always the difficult push-pull of going home – just walking in the door overwhelms me, the items I lived with in childhood, my grandmother’s vase, my Dad’s Inuit sculptures, pictures of him, of myself as a child, my brother, Mum as a young woman … I look at everything as if I’m hunting for clues – what does this photograph say about the way we were?

At one point, Mum showed me a book of poems by Rupert Brook that in 1945 she gave the young American soldier who would become my dad. I read aloud the famous “The Soldier” – “there is some corner … that is forever England,” – and Mum’s eyes filled with tears. She cries very easily at almost everything.  “Quick!” I said. “Take a deep breath into your belly, deep, deep. Breathe. Be aware of your breath.” And the tears went away. We tried it again, several times, as she was about to weep.  My mother has had to leave weddings and many other events because she is so sodden in tears she can hardly see; she goes nowhere without sunglasses to hide her swollen eyes. Perhaps now she can breathe, sometimes, and not dissolve. Worth a try. I’m not against tears, there are times when tears are the only way to cope. But not always; not helplessly.  
On Saturday afternoon my old high-school friend Louise and I went to the cinema to see the Met’s production of Gluck’s “Orfeo and Eurydice,” which was brilliant – costumes by Isaac Mizrahi of about a hundred of the world’s famous dead, lined in rows at the back: Shakespeare, Mary Queen of Scots, Jimi Hendrix, Nefertiti, Abe Lincoln – watching the action and then rising to sing. What a glorious thing these films of operas are.  Louise, I’m happy to say, after a bitter divorce, has reconnected with a man who had a crush on her in cello class when they were 15. They both still play the cello and now can do so together. 
I came back Sunday afternoon to the most heavenly day in Toronto, to find my son hacking his lungs out, also with a terrible cold. The world is conspiring to make me sick, and I absolutely cannot get sick – not only do I have a mountain of things to get done in the next weeks, but then I land in Paris and have one full day to get ready a speech in French about my book. THEN, if necessary, I can get sick. But then I will be so excited that my system won’t slow down enough to encounter viruses.  So right now – massive doses of Cold-FX. If you have any other miracle preventatives, please let me know.
Another lovely day. But my Canadian heart dare not hope that this is spring – we have more cold to come, surely; it’s only March. And already, though I’m thrilled about my trip, I am sad I’ll miss the wonders of spring in my city, my neighbourhood and in my garden.  We want it all, don’t we? I will have the joy of April in Paris, and yet also, I want very much to spend April in my backyard in Cabbagetown. 

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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