My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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It is the most heavenly day – crisp and hot, with showers of red, orange and gold leaves; the Japanese maple up the street is incandescent scarlet. There’s nowhere in the world I’d rather be than Toronto on a magical fall day like this. I walked through the Farm and then to the Necropolis cemetery where I visited my parents, whose ashes are scattered there. I told them the world is in grave upheaval but their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are safe and well. That their granddaughter and her boys arrived back in Toronto late last night from visiting her best friend in Saskatchewan, and a family friend met them at the airport holding a bag of fresh hot hamburgers from Harry’s, Sam’s restaurant. Welcome home.

Right next to the spot where my parents are scattered is a headstone from the 1870’s for a woman whose infant daughter died at 19 days old, and who died herself only six months later. There are so many stories in those headstones.

I’ve been reading a lot of analysis – Naomi Klein et al – about the election, about how wrong, blind and intolerant we all were. Valuable lessons. My cousin in Washington is in such despair, she doesn’t want to leave the house or do anything. So I wrote to her.
It’s such a beautiful day here, I just went out for a walk to celebrate being alive on the planet. We have had terrible news this week but there’s much to be learned from it. I am taking heart from the fine writers of the New York Times who, even as they express fear and anguish, are analyzing this crisis with thoughtfulness and wisdom. 

The fact is that the political process has always been a pendulum – the United States elected Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and it elected Richard Nixon. So – Obama and Trump. My consolation is that there was so much poison in the air, Hillary wouldn’t have been able to govern. So let them have their guy, see where it gets them. Let’s just hope the world survives until the pendulum swings the other way. The Democrats have certainly learned a hard lesson and will be different by 2020.  

I only hope you take heart in humanity, remember that half the country did not vote for Trump – and maybe find a cause you can get involved in, that will help you to feel you’re making a contribution to a better America in its hour of need. I certainly hope this debacle fires up young people – in fact, everyone – to volunteer and jump in and do their bit. But yes, what matters most, in the end, is love and kindness, and that, no matter what is happening in Washington or elsewhere in the world, we can do.
So let’s. 

Received this lovely note from a student, heartening after a hard week – not just the election and the death of Leonard Cohen, but also after hearing much editorial criticism of the new memoir:

Just before supper, I was reading your Paul memoir. The description of your mother having had to quit school because of the war and not really trusting working women is very powerful. 

When someone reads a writer’s memoir, because it is TRUE, the reader gains genuine insight into the writer’s life. Even though the two people haven’t necessarily conversed, or even met, there is an authentic connection. Very cool.

P.S. Just got out my Leonard Cohen poetry books. Inside “Flowers for Hitler” is written “For Beth, Christmas 1967, Mum and Dad, xx.” 

You’re still here, Mum and Dad. Still with me. Thank you.



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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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