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Family reunion and Narrative4

When he and I first met, he was 23, a theatre administrator, and I was a 26-year-old actress. We began dating 3 years later. And now here he is, 70, and I 73. He came in last night, had a big plate of the stew Sam and I had made that afternoon, and then we sat by my fire, getting caught up on so much — his life and mine, our children and grandchildren, the many friends from long ago and recently. Imagine, if we hadn’t fixed the bitterness of our divorce, we’d have lost this miraculous bond.

He’s across town now at Anna’s. It’ll be a lovely sunny day today; she kept the boys out of school, and apparently all they want to do is play ball hockey with their grandfather and uncle. Ed runs one of the biggest and most important regional theatres in the States, a pipeline to Broadway. It’s a guarantee he has not played ball hockey for some time. Hooray!

On Monday, I made a valuable new acquaintance. Backstory: at the San Miguel Writers’ Festival in Feb. 2020, just before the world shut down, I encountered an organization called Narrative4, founded by Irish writer Colum McCann to help teach “radical empathy.” In his workshop, he divided us into pairs — I was paired with a middle-aged man — and asked us to tell each other important stories from our lives. We were then asked to stand up and tell the story to the whole group in the voice of the other person, and then to listen to the other tell OUR story. Narrative4 does this work mostly in schools, to help kids enter into another world view. I loved it — honouring the power of story, which is how I earn a living and spend my life.

So recently I got in touch with Narrative4 and asked about the Canadian branch and on Monday I talked to her — Rosa, the sole Canadian practitioner so far. We hit it off instantly — among other things, she teaches French literature and speaks fluent French. After an hour’s inspiring convo, I joined Narrative4 and started to become a facilitator; there’s a series of webinars and tests. I hope eventually to do this in Eli and Ben’s school and maybe keep going with it after I retire from teaching. Exciting. (Yes — as if I don’t have enough to do already…)

Speaking of which, on Wednesday, a workshop at the Y on writing memoir. It was not well publicized by the Y, and though 12 people signed up, 6 appeared. However, they were keen, and it was terrific. As always, I am grateful to have found something I love to do that perhaps makes a difference, however small, in our increasingly dark world.

What I missed, on Wednesday: Ben’s Christmas concert, at which he and his class sang George Harrison’s “Here comes the sun” as “Here comes the snow,” taped by Anna and sent to me, the cutest thing ever that brought, of course, tears to my eyes. Ben at the back in a tuque because his very long hair, his mother says, “is a bird’s nest.” My boy. Thursday, Eli’s concert, at which he did his best to disappear. Eli is not a joiner.

But ball hockey with Grampa, any day.



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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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