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frozen faces

More ultrasounds at St. Mike’s this morning – this time my thyroid. To think, I’m 62 and have just found out for the first time what my thyroid is, and where. A large camera pointed right at it helped me discover. Something to do with hormones. Again, the team was efficient and polite, even while injecting me with radioactive something or other. I didn’t ask questions, entrusting my thyroid to their capable hands.

Last night, I watched “Pioneers of Television” on PBS, this week about women comics. And amidst the laughter, tragedy – they interviewed the fabulous Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, Joan Rivers, whose faces now are stretched, injected and frozen into a parody of a human face. Moore is an unearthly Chinese mask, barely able to move her mouth or see out of her oriental, eyelined eyes. One who seems to have survived this curse is the amazing Betty White, with a career starting in the Fifties and still going strong — nearly two years older than my mother and STILL WORKING – her face slightly fixed, but real too.

Then they interviewed the men, Dick Van Dyke, Tim Conway, Ed Astner, with their sags and bags of real aging human flesh. I do think this, like the removal of ribs by corseted Victorians, will be seen as one of the tragic follies of our time – the desperate attempt by wealthy and famous women, and a few men, to beat back time with facial surgery. All that happens is that they look puffy, bland and expensive, like Ralph Lauren pillows. As at the Golden Globes, a few days ago – those sad, empty expanses of forehead.

Tomorrow I go to Ottawa, leaving my kind tenant Carol to care for house and crabby cat. My brother and I will see my mother’s bank manager and plan and buy what’s needed for the memorial event. There have been many calls back and forth, when will we light the candles, what use to make of the lay chaplain, whether to rent the cutlery and dishes separately from the caterer – ETC. Trying to do my mother justice, honour her, capture her spirit.

Friday my children arrive; the event is in the evening. So here’s the relaxing, totally non-stressful weekend – my forceful daughter and her forceful 8 month old, plus my always-hungry and not unforceful son, and mild little moi, staying together in my mother’s small, decimated condo with no TV and very slow internet. We spend Friday evening at her memorial, a major event, certainly one of the most important of my life, attended by every one of my most important genetically-related people. Family!

If we survive that, Saturday, my brother has spoken about us all going up to his place in Chelsea. Great idea. Major overload. My daughter says there’s a hockey game we can watch there, Leafs (we Torontonians) versus Habs (my brother and his Quebecoise wife.) And me in the middle, giving not a @#$ but – the problem with all these events – unable drink myself into pleasant oblivion, as is my wont, because I am the designated driver. Phooey.

It will all be fine. It will be marvellous. I know that. But right now, all I feel is overload and a little bit of dread. And tomorrow, to add a jolly frisson, it will be minus twenty-four in Ottawa.

PS This morning, leaving the hospital, I walked behind a woman with her slow, elderly father in tow. “You must take in more fluids, Dad, you’re just not drinking enough,” she scolded, and I felt a punch in the gut, bringing me back to that same sentence, that same anxious solicitous feeling, many times over the last few years.



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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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