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dust to dust

I’ve been inhaling dust for 24 hours – was up at six this morning, wide awake, up and at ’em – opening boxes, throwing out, sorting, everything thick with dust. Luckily Do’s caregiver Pat came over with a very energetic friend and a dolly; they took tons of stuff to the recycling bin in the basement (years of tax returns, every single notification from the condo board during her decades here, she kept everything) and piles to garbage and to the place where you can leave things for others to take.

Oh what a pack rat. And she labelled everything: on one plastic bag, “Green and white check curtains – kitchen etc. From Earls Court – top flat, 46 Hogarth Road, London, U.K. 1946-54.” Inside, yes, the green and white check curtains she’d made for her post-war apartment, neatly folded, threadbare, utterly unusable. Taken down when she moved to Canada in 1954, stored for more than 60 years – and out.

The one I like best, so far, is the plastic bag with this: “White and silver stole. Fine Wool. Never used.  Sent from the U.K. to Dorothy (by Mama circa 1958) who had told her in a letter her evening stole (white) had been stolen.”

My grandmother was efficient and skilled at many things but she was not a warm, affectionate woman, least of all to her middle daughter Dorothy. It warms me to know she made the effort to find another stole and send it. Why would Do never wear it? For the same reason, I guess, that she never used the nice cutlery or dishes or tablecloths – save it for best, a time that never came. Unfortunately, my own need for a white and silver evening stole, pretty as it is, is not great. Have to find a home for it.

But the most bizarre was this, in a drawer, a small brown envelope: “Tooth w/gold filling.

Not opening that. As I said, she kept everything. And it’s all covered with dust. Oh yes, in all the piles of empty art paper, I did find a box of art equipment and one small sketch book with a bit of her own work – and it’s lovely, including a tiny sketch from 1954 marked “Beth.” She did have talent – watercolour, pen and ink – but kept for years buying paper, how-to books about painting, drawing and calligraphy, pens and brushes, and yet seems to have done almost none of it, ever.

It stopped raining briefly so I went to Britannia Park for a walk to clear my lungs – but even with a bit of sun it’s cold and very windy so the walk was brief. Do’s friends Una and May are coming here for dinner, so I need to clear up a bit. In all her decades here, I don’t think my aunt invited her friends in once. She went to Scrabble in their apartments every Sunday, never here. It’s a shame.

I can’t wait to show them the world’s biggest collection of paper napkins.



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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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