My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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not watching the Super Bowl

My father’s cousin Lola, a lifelong New Yorker, is exactly the age he would have been had he lived – 95, 96 later this year. She has shrunk since I visited her last year, after 3 weeks in the hospital last fall, but she’s still in her bright studio apartment at 70th and 3rd, albeit now with a succession of live-in African caregivers. “I’m learning so much about Africa!” she says.

“I’m reading such an interesting book,” she says. “Have you heard of Christopher Hitchens?” She’s reading a book of his essays. Before that, an out of print novel by Pearl Buck, all on her Kobo. She doesn’t get out any more, though until recently, she was still going to theatre – at extremely reduced seniors’ rates – and art exhibits. And, in fact, she has been to see the Michelangelo exhibit at the Met, in a wheelchair with her daughter. “It was so crowded,” she said. “I got discouraged. But,” she told me, “I learned to draw when I was young by copying Michelangelo.” Mother of 4 children and wife of a businessman, she was also a painter, ceramicist and jewellery-maker; a ring I never take off was made by her.

And then she told me about the time she met Tom Stoppard.

It’s too bad so many of my New York relatives do not speak to each other. There are so many feuds, it’s hard to keep track. I think that’s one reason my father was happy to move to Canada and stay there.

I’d stopped at La Maison Kayser on the way and brought us French sandwiches and treats. And then, I was on my way, hoping to see her again soon. She is a powerful link to my father, “the guy,” she said, “who taught me, when we were seven or eight, what ‘fuck’ means.” Of course he did.

                                                     

Picture taken by Wendy from Burkina Faso.

The trip to the airport was stressful – nearly an hour’s wait for a train at Penn Station, in a hall where there is not a single bench or chair, I guess because the many, many New York homeless would camp there – so we all sat on the floor. Finally the train was announced and set off, and then stopped because a bridge ahead was stuck open. “Delay,” they said, “not sure how long.” Just what a person heading for the airport likes to hear, with no more flights that day. I panicked, of course. Infrastructure in the U.S. is appalling – roads, trains, everything – but of course their fine president is going to fix that. Anyway, we got there and took off. Canada looked even colder than New York.

Home. Room in the bathroom to put things down. A change of clothes. A snowstorm. Though my son who’d stayed a few days here had made everything in the fridge vanish, he’d left me a plate of delicious pasta and 3 fine bottles of wine. Today – the pleasures of the hot tub at the Y, scrubbing off the grime of NYC. And then, across town. I’d bought a little teepee at Flying Tiger. Poor Thomas, it took an engineering degree to assemble it, but he did.

Anna was making chili for the Super Bowl, because she cares about football. Incomprehensible.

It is quiet. I am fuller than before – of the Angel Orensantz Centre and what happened there, of contact with friends and family, three spectacular pieces of theatre, Michelangelo, the fervent buzz of the city. Four days is my limit, but what a fine four they were.

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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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A new book by Beth Kaplan, published by Mosaic Press – “Midlife Solo”

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