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We are famileee

I am at my mother’s in Ottawa, trying to be useful and helpful without being overpowering. I want to set up some kind of organization for her papers which are piled hither and yon on every surface in the kitchen, the spare room, her bedroom and at the dining room table, rather than at one of her two desks. Did manage to clear out a huge stack of old paper, including every grocery bill for the last three years, her 4-year collection of “Martha Stewart” magazines and six of her eight 2011 calendars. God help me, I see myself the hoarder here, not at this level yet, but on my way.

Still, it’s fantastic that Mum, at 87, and her sister Do, at 91, are still living independently, cooking and doing crossword puzzles daily and coping extremely well, considering. How lucky we all are. As my brother and I say, “We want those longevity genes.” The other side – not so much.

We had a wonderful day Saturday – it was stunningly bright and hot, so we went for a drive in Mum’s 1982 Volvo – down to the tulip festival, bed after bed of tulips in scarlet, yellow, pink. I parked and we found a bench to sit in the shade and watch the parade of Ottawans go by – “just like the U.N.,” Mum observed, as every nationality was out rollerblading, walking kids, cycling, running. This is such a lovely city, just the right size, and the whole canal area is gorgeous. Three young girls went by, and I said to Mum, “I wonder if they know how perfect they are,” and then realized that, when I lived by the canal with my friend Lynn at the age of 18, we too must have been perfect. And had no idea.

While Mum napped, I went out for a walk/jogette by the river and discovered something magical – someone had left a wooden kitchen chair facing the river so I went to sit down, and then noticed they’d created a kind of sanctuary, cleared a path and lined it with stones, piled stones around the trees, left small stones on big stones. I stayed a long time, appreciating the work that had gone into making this special place and taking pictures. The next day, when I went back, it had gone. No chair, no path, no stones around the trees. Glad I have the pictures to prove I wasn’t hallucinating a chair by the river, with stones.

Yesterday, errands, getting a huge load of groceries and wine, cooking for Sunday dinner; my brother and his rambunctious 3-year old came to dine. And then TV with my two ladies nodding off and waking up, though we watched the life of Victor Hugo with Paul Muni and were all gripped at the heroic tale. And today, sorting, tidying, cleaning out. I hope to get to the fridge, where I’ve noticed lots of stuff past its due date. I wish I did not live so far away. But luckily my brother is nearby and very attentive.

Friend Chris writes from France that he’s afraid of being stranded there by the volcano, shades of two years ago – or was it last year? I forget. Last year, I think. How time flies.

How time flies.

Home late tonight, unless a volcano erupts.



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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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