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Nora Ephron and getting old

Tonight is the last Ryerson class of the spring term, so tomorrow, except for my one day garden workshop and various editing jobs, that’s it for paid employment until September. So I’ll have lots of time and absolutely no money – the ironies of the freelance life. As I wrote a few days ago, a writer is always at work, though the actual making of money is in a separate and mostly distant realm. No wonder my business-type friends cannot comprehend how we survive. And neither, sometimes, can I. And yet here I am, a freelance pauper in the most beautiful garden in Toronto. If not the world.

Speaking of writers – what a shock to hear about Nora Ephron, that witty writer dead at 71. It’s a shame that the two obits I’ve read so far have chosen to quote from her latest material, about aging, rather than the sharp, funny, bitter stuff she wrote earlier. I wished she’d stop going on about the wattles on her neck and how much time it took to get her hair done – First World problems, as my daughter would say, particularly New York problems. Her musings obviously struck a chord because those rueful books were bestsellers, but I hoped she’d move on. Instead, of all the many wonderfully clever things she wrote, those words about old necks and bad hair are what people will remember her by. Not fair.

I guess, though, it was groundbreaking for a wealthy female artist to write so honestly about the pains of aging. This morning it was hard, as it has now become, to get the rings onto my swelling fingers. There’s a new hideous mole on my upper chest that’s worryingly dark – should I call the doctor? My ankle and knees have more or less healed after my fall, but they creak, they ache, they mutter ominously.

No! I will not go on about getting old. It’s Wednesday, Carol’s class, I’ll run around the gym with my friends. My hair, to which I pay as little attention as possible, is emerging from the pale brown mist as a stern and steely grey, and my neck is pretty damn fine. It’s true that in those pictures Anna took of me holding baby Eli, below, all I could see, at first, were the deep wrinkles on my cheeks and, yes, the shrivelly state of my neck. C’est la vie. Time to go into the garden and smell the roses – literally – and pick some lettuce and a tomato – yesterday, harvested my first very small pepper! – then off to the Y to puff and pant and celebrate being 61. And the proud grandmother of a baby boy who is now not only smiling but smiling EARLY, as his proud mother points out.

Peace to you, Nora. You were a brave and beautiful woman, and an inspiration as a strong, successful writer. Your acerbic honesty will be missed.



4 Responses to “Nora Ephron and getting old”

  1. “You should eat delicious things while you can still eat them, go to wonderful places while you still can … and not have evenings where you say to yourself, ‘What am I doing here? Why am I here? I am bored witless!’”
    Nora Ephron

  2. beth says:

    Love it. Agree 100%.
    Thanks for quoting, Chris,

  3. Both Leah McLaren (in the Globe) and Wendy Litner (on her website) have written good, somewhat parallel, tributes. Worth checking out.

  4. beth says:

    You're right, Chris. Wendy's is especially fine.

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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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