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The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead

Woke up this morning to find no water in the taps; the pipes froze overnight. The coldest night of the year – minus 40, someone said, though that’s perhaps a bit exaggerated. I have managed to scrabble enough water to brush my teeth, and there was water in the coffee machine so have had coffee. Moved eight boxes in the basement to get to the pipes and rigged up both a heater and a hair dryer aimed at them. More than an hour – still no water. I had plans but have to stay here until there’s water – concern that the pipes will burst.

I am not feeling a happy valentinesey feeling. I am feeling very alone in a huge house that I cannot cope with. Yesterday, I spent two hours with my young helper Grace, just going through boxes and boxes of family photographs inherited from my mother and others. There is so much stuff in this house, it’s ridiculous; I’m drowning in it, in my to-do lists. A very old four-story house with vast garden is too much for one incompetent woman. There are times that I like being alone very much, and then there are times when I do not like it at all, and this is one of them. It would be nice to share this load occasionally.

Okay, that’s enough self-pity. Luckily, both tenants are away today so it’s only me inconvenienced. And anyway, I do share the load of this house with my dear handyman and friend John, who unfortunately and so selfishly has his own life and is away today. He was here much of yesterday installing the new dishwasher and fixing the smoke alarm downstairs, which beeped at top volume for an hour because, John discovered when he disconnected it, it was inexplicably full of water.

My former handyman Len once told me I must have offended the water gods in a previous life. I’m sorry, water gods, for whatever I did to offend you – very very sorry.

Jon Stewart is in Toronto! There’s some kind of big basketball thingie happening and he was here, in a Toronto at its most inhospitable. Sorry, Jon. Please come back when the weather is tolerable, as it has been all winter until now.

In other news – I finished a wonderful book called “The thing about life is that one day you’ll be dead,” by David Shields, who’s one of the leaders in the world of creative non-fiction. It’s a hilarious, fascinating and moving book which combines hard scientific facts about the biology and psychology of living and dying with the personal story of David’s extraordinary father, aged 97.

The book thrilled me by mentioning that his Yiddish-speaking dad went to see a production of “Der Vilder Mensch” – the Wild Man, one of my great-grandfather Jacob Gordin’s plays. So I looked up David Shields’s email address and wrote him a fan note, telling him how much I enjoyed his last book “Reality Hunger” and this one, and about Gordin, and would he like to read my book about him? Less than one minute later, I kid you not, David wrote back. I am sending him my book and the memoir too, since his wife is a Paul McCartney fan. I love the internet.

Here’s a few passages from David’s book:

Woody Allen: I don’t want to achieve
immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I
don’t want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen. I would rather live on in
my apartment.”
A priest, a minister and a rabbi are
discussing what they’d like people to say after they die and their bodies are
on display in open caskets.
The priest says, “I’d like someone to say,
‘He was righteous, honest, and generous.’”
The minister says, “I’d like someone to
say, ‘He was kind and fair, and he was good to his parishioners.’”
The rabbi says, “I’d want someone to say,
‘Look, he’s moving.’”

WATER! A sudden burst from the taps! I can wash! I can rinse dishes! I can play with my new dishwasher! Oh the marvels of life! HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!



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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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