My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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the great gifts of writing

We did not celebrate Mother’s Day in my family. It didn’t make a dent, I guess dismissed by my lefty parents. Maybe it wasn’t such a big deal in those days in any case. I forbid my own kids to make useless, expensive gestures like flowers or cards, unless they’re homemade. But I hope today my son and grandsons are cooking dinner for Anna and me. That’s the plan, we’ll see how it plays out. The plan is steak, salads, and veg. The steak, of course, bought by me.

And this after sending them a diatribe about the degradation of our food by a few massive companies, expounded in an interview with Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation. He says we should be eating thirty different plants a week, and I’m determined to eat less meat and more veg. After today.

That interview, by the way, was at the start of Bill Maher, where he often interviews really interesting people, with the exception of Robert Kennedy Jr., he of the worm brain, the other week. But after Schlosser, the discussion veered so drastically to the right that I turned it off after five minutes. Bill and his guests are indefensible when it comes to the Gaza war – viciously one-sided. I’m done with him.

But importantly, this morning, in a Substack I receive, was a heartbreaking Mother’s Day essay by a very old friend of mine from Halifax days. She and her husband lost both their beautiful, accomplished children, who were in their twenties, to cystic fibrosis. They had all worked tirelessly for the cause, fundraising and raising awareness, but despite all their work, both children died. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done was to write both obituaries for the Globe. My friend wrote powerfully about what this day means, how acts of kindness have helped her through. I wept.

Despite all my worries about my crazy kids and grandkids, I could not be more grateful that they are there, across town.

All this made me think about the gift of writing – the obits my gift to them, this essay, which must have been very hard to write, her thoughtful gift to us. This week, in my home class, a student wrote about his best friend since childhood, still a dear friend after decades, despite the miles and the years. We in class were happy to hear a tribute to male friendships, a subject we don’t hear about enough. I said, Send it to him. The writer did, and reported that his friend was “deeply moved and blown away.”

We writers take note. We chronicle. Most of the world does not. So often, what we write is a gift to others. And to ourselves.

My friend Penny, whose story “Correspondence” is included in Midlife Solo, just wrote, You write beautifully, Beth. You bring the joy out of the sorrow and describe archetypal experiences so poignantly.  I am sure I am not the only one who sees myself and my life reflected in your lens.

That’s a gift I try to give. And something given to me – went to Ben McNally’s yesterday to sign six books a friend ordered to be mailed to her. Six books! Thank you!

Last night I went to hear the Art of Time ensemble with its tribute to Joni Mitchell, 14 songs rearranged and sung by different singers. What gifts that woman has, not only of music but of poetry. My review of the concert, however, is mixed. The orchestra was stellar, superb, but the singers, mostly, not so much. They showed, despite great effort, how hard it is to sing Joni’s material, with its effortless soaring and diving. The exception was the lovely Sarah Slean, equally effortless. Go, Joni!

I’m supposed to be gardening today but it’s an iffy day, sun then cloud. I’ll garden another day and cook instead. Plants.

Happy Sunday to you, and Happy Mother’s Day to those who celebrate.

Below, 2010.

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2 Responses to “the great gifts of writing”

  1. Trevor says:

    Thanks for the Sylvia pics !

  2. Beth Kaplan says:

    My lovely mum. This was two years before she died, still doing crossword puzzles but sinking slowly. Sending all best to you and Bente, Trevor.

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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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