My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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harsh words

Sitting in the sun before going off into a busy day – class at U of T,  time to kill, then a big CNFC conference committee meeting. A gorgeous warm day with a chilly underbite. Just finishing off the last tomatoes and cucumbers, a little bit of chard left. And then – well, to comfort us as the cold comes, apples.

Yesterday, doing more transcribing of these old letters Mum left when she died, I wept twice. Once when I found a letter Dad wrote to her as she, my brother and I were on the boat from England, returning to Halifax after their painful separation due to my mother’s affair. Dad had returned to Canada months before to resume his teaching work and to buy us a house, which he’d done. He sent her the most beautiful letter; I hardly recognize this tender, vulnerable man.

Well my life, such as it is, revolves about you and my children and I seriously doubt that I could survive without you. I need desperately to love, and you’re it and have always been so. I really have always loved you although at times I may have had a strange way of showing it. For this I beg for your forgiveness as I have freely given you mine for whatever required it. Let us try to forget the wounds which we have had inflicted on us by the other from inconsideration, egoism, or insecurity and lack of confidence.
I belong to you, body and soul for the rest of our lives. What I ask in return is a clean break with the past and our absolutely concentration on our lives and children and home. We must keep the doors open between us—we both have so much to learn about the other and try to learn to talk to one another.

I adore you, only you and always you.

He kept that pledge. That is, he had affairs, but discreet ones. Whereas Mum’s next one, like her first one, was anything but discreet.

But then I read another letter from him, a few months earlier, responding to a letter of Mum’s in which she wrote how difficult I was and how very jealous of my 4-year old brother, who, in all their letters back and forth, is “our adorable little man,” precious, funny, so cute they want to eat him up. Whereas their 7-year old daughter is – I’m not sure what I was doing wrong, but obviously something. Dad loved wordplay – hence “mammaries.” So, yes, reading this made me cry. Because it’s not just that he’s saying something so harsh, but that my mother’s letter reminded him of it.


Most delicious of creatures – how I miss you and brood. What a marvellous letter from Beth – it almost made me forget what a bitch she often is – but your letter received this morning refreshed my mammaries.  


I want to defend that 7-year old girl. But you know, she grew up, not without some collateral damage, and turned into the marvellous human being I am today. LOL. And also, by the end, Dad and I were close, and he apologized to me once for being cruel. I loved him very much. 

So having access to my parents’ intimate messages is both a blessing and a curse. But mostly, for a writer, a gift – help in the solving of mysteries. I did however book another appointment with my shrink. Who’s on my side, definitely on my side.

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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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