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celebrating fathers

Yesterday, when I took Eli home after his sleepover here, his father Thomas was at Anna’s when we arrived. Though he and Anna are no longer a couple, Thomas lives nearby and is very involved in his son’s life. He is so unlike our family – very quiet and anti-social – but the more I watch him, the more I appreciate what a thoughtful and gentle father he is. He had bought a big box full of sports stuff – volleyball, badminton and lacrosse equipment – and when I left, father and son were assembling the net. Nothing could have given me greater pleasure than that sight. Then Anna texted to say Thomas had taken the training wheels from Eli’s bike and taken him riding. Our boy, at just three, is nearly riding a two-wheeler by himself. This is what dads are for. Not in a million years would I have helped him do something so risky so soon.

Today is the 27th anniversary of my father’s death of stomach cancer, far too young at the age of 65. I turn 65 in a few weeks, so this is a year that haunts me. I’m burning a candle for him and walked to the Necropolis, the beautiful old cemetery where his ashes and my mother’s are scattered, to have a chat, tell him we’re all doing so well – his children, grandchildren, and, soon, two great-grandsons. How I wish he could have met them. He would have been 92 – and a force to be reckoned with still, I’m sure. He must have taught me to ride a two-wheeler, though I unfortunately don’t remember. But I was certainly a hell of a lot older than three.

Where my parents now lie – is this a dell? A glade? These must be old Anglo-Saxon words, no? In any case, a shady nook. No babbling brook nearby, however – just the Don Valley Parkway.

I wandered around the Necropolis, communing with the peaceful dead and reading stories on tombstones.

Alexander and Jane lost all six of their children, most at the age of one or two. I checked their own inscription, on the other side: Jane outlived everyone, including her husband. Imagine.

Someone called Euphemia Denham who died in Edinburgh – with a Star of David. Could she possibly be Jewish?!

The Necropolis. Built 1850.

 Loving modern stones.

Another couple who lost all their children, both James and Gladys in 1903 – an accident? An epidemic? And Mary at the age of one.

I walked back, feeling the breath in my lungs and, after a fantastic massage on Saturday, the lack of pain in my back, grateful to live in a time of ever-improving health care, especially for the very young. Back to the comforting soft beauty of the garden.

 The roses are fading but magnificent. Instead, the jasmine is on its way.

The last gardenia. 
Western Canada is burning – my Vancouver friends write that they can hardly see through the yellow air from smoke. I thank again those who marched yesterday – up to 10,000, according to the Star – to try to make us reconsider the way we treat this infinitely precious planet.

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4 Responses to “celebrating fathers”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I envy you your garden. I'm back in Paris (after London) in my small sweltering flat that overlooks a noisy dusty road. Tiny balcony that I don't use. It went up to 39°C last week and it's still hot.

    Did you get to see Jane Fonda? I'm such a fan of hers.

    Juliet

  2. beth says:

    No, I got to the march late and didn't see her. Wow – 39 degrees! That's tropical. For some reason, our summer, usually sweltering by now, so far has been perfect – not too hot, after an endlessly rainy cold spring. But Paris and Vancouver are burning, Vancouver, and the entire west of Canada, literally.

    Your trip to London sounds wonderful as always. I must take notes for my next one. Did you stay at the Penn Club?

  3. theresa says:

    A beautiful piece. I love the Necropolis — a perfect place to walk among the trees and stones and to imagine, as you did, the lives of those commemorated there.

  4. beth says:

    Thank you, Theresa. And I love the new quote on your blog about the glass of water and Greece – which we both visited when young, as I recall, and wanted to live there. And you did, no? Strange that Greece is provoking another world economic crisis that I barely understand.

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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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