My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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taking a break

Chatted with a woman today at the Y – one of the great joys of the Y, these conversations between semi-naked women becoming friends. She and I change in the same locker area but don’t know each other well. She told me she has just turned 90, and I exclaimed that she looks wonderful. “For 90, you mean,” she laughed. I knew her husband of many decades had been ill for a long time. “He died, ” she said. “I’m not grieving, because he wanted to die. But now I have to learn, for the first time in my life, to be one.”

She told me she’d shared her childhood bedroom with her sister, left home to get married, had six children. She has never, ever, lived alone. And now, at 90, she has to learn how. I told her I’d be happy to give lessons. She’s fiercely independent and strong, but, she said, “When your spouse dies, the part of yourself you shared with him is gone. Part of me is just gone.”

She nearly made me cry, as we stood wrapped in towels. I told her I would be 70 next year. “70 is nothing!” she exclaimed, which cheered me immeasurably. I suggested we get together soon for a glass of wine. “I’d love that,” she said. And so would I.

I was feeling old today, despite her kind words, with sharp pain – back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain. I don’t know why. But I always associate back pain with stress, so I’m wondering what is causing me so much. Nothing much that I can see, except life. Went for a therapeutic massage today, which helped – “It’s very tight, not like you,” she said, as she hammered those muscles.

Maybe it’s the world. I’ve decided to take a week-long break from FB and Twitter, see if that helps. Leave the poison behind. Well, not completely, as I’ll still read the paper and listen to CBC’s The World at Six. But in truth, leaving FB for a week will be hard. I enjoy sitting in my comfy chair travelling around the world, catching up with friends and family (my brother, today, posting pictures from Tel Aviv, my daughter, who’s in Nova Scotia, exclaiming about buying oysters at the local Sobeys), hearing from people I respect, blocking out those I don’t. Not YOU, though.

Last night, on the news, they interviewed a young man who became a Beatlemaniac at 17, ten years ago, and this week, he travelled to London to be there at Abbey Road on the anniversary of the day the iconic photo was taken. I was so charmed by what he said – speaking of how the Beatles had always been there for him, their message of peace and love and hope – that I got in touch, told him how moved I was by what he said, and offered to send him my memoir. “Your message almost made me cry,” he wrote back. A kindred spirit; a fellow weeper.

My boss at U of T wrote; my class there already has nine registered. Nine, with eight weeks to go! Last term, there were five. Who can understand these things? No complaints from me.

The garden, oh, the garden. Made a sublime watermelon gazpacho with THREE cucumbers. A gorgeous week ahead – cool and windy and fresh.

70 is nothing, so 69 is just a kid.  As the poet Sara Teasdale says:
When I can look Life in the eyes, / Grown calm and very coldly wise, / Life will have given me the Truth, / And taken in exchange — my youth.



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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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