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Second-hand Authoress

Forgot to tell you about an interesting experience today – as usual, swinging speedily through my second-hand mecca Doubletake, I was meandering by the books when I noticed a familiar cover, and then a bunch of them – my own book, Yours Truly, dumped into a bin. Four copies! It made me laugh. I showed them to the workers there, who are old friends, and they gathered around, exclaiming about knowing the writer of one of their discarded books. They said they wanted to read it.

I bought all 4 copies – at 50 cents each, realizing that they must have come from the shop at Riverdale Farm, which bought a bunch of books and now is closing down. (I also bought a hand-knitted Cowichan sweater of incomparable warmth – $12.50, and a beautiful blouse -$4- for a friend that I later found had a rip down the back. Win some, lose some.)

Every year, one of my Christmas projects is to take a hamper of goodies to Doubletake on the day of their Christmas party, to thank the workers there for what they give us all. So I asked the store manager when their party was this year. We’re not having a party this year, she said. What – is this a budget concern? These women from Bangladesh, so gracious and kind, do not get a bit of a celebration this year? I didn’t ask why, but I am going to bring them their Christmas hamper in any case, cheese and crackers, chocolates and cookies. And – lucky them! – four copies of my blessed book.

I just wrote a note to thank Catherine Porter, whose Star series on the death of two-year old Stella from a rare form of cancer was so sensitive and so beautifully written – just read the ending with tears dripping into my glass of wine. It made me think of a fine poem. So here, in the Christmas spirit, it is, by a man who was once America’s poet laureate:

The Dead, by Billy Collins

The dead are always looking down on us, they say,
while we are putting on our shoes or making a sandwich,
they are looking down through the glass bottom boats of heaven
as they row themselves slowly through eternity.
They watch the tops of our heads moving below on earth,
and when we lie down in a field or on a couch,
drugged perhaps by the hum of a long afternoon,
they think we are looking back at them,
which makes them lift their oars and fall silent
and wait, like parents, for us to close our eyes.

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4 Responses to “Second-hand Authoress”

  1. Anonymous says:

    These women from Bangladesh, so gracious and kind, do not get a bit of a celebration this year? I didn't ask why, but I am going to bring them their Christmas hamper in any case, cheese and crackers, chocolates and cookies. And – lucky them! – four copies of my blessed book.

    It's all about YOU!! Your book. And it's patronizing. People are supposed to give quietly, not trumpet their Christmas hamper giving projects to thank the Bangladeshi workers.

  2. beth says:

    Dear Anonymous, this is the second reply from you pointing out my overweening egotism. The thing is – this is a blog, which is a highly personal account of an individual life. I'm not a journalist writing about the world. I'm a diarist – a blog is a public diary.

    Yes, perhaps I should give a Christmas hamper without fanfare, but I want to talk about it, because it gives me enormous pleasure to bring something to a group of women who give so much during the year. I write about what gives me pleasure, and about what hurts me, and believe it or not, around seven hundred people check in once a week to follow this saga.

    I invite you not to be one of them, Anonymous. Happy Holidays to you.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Patronizing? What are you talking about, anonymous? And of course, this is all about Beth. It's her blog.
    Beth, I really enjoy reading your blog and think you have a kind soul and a nice sense of humour. So thank you for sharing these stories with us.
    One more thing, you always look stylish. 🙂
    Nasrin

  4. beth says:

    Thank you, Nasrin! I am a great believer in the power of stories. Including yours.

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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.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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