Saturday, January 4, 2014

we are family

I'm back in the car in the parking lot outside the bagel shop, checking email and listening to Sirius 60's music. "Eli's Comin'" just played. And yes, he is! Wrote this earlier.

3 pm

I’m sitting on the living-room floor with headphones on, listening to Bach’s St. John’s Passion, looking at the books on the bookshelf in front of me, and weeping. My various worlds are coming together: the Bach tape, like the 30 or so others on the shelf, was made by my Uncle Edgar, who loved Baroque music, Bach above all others. When he travelled, he brought a complicated sound system and his homemade tapes. After his death, Mum brought a few of them to Florida, and I’m listening now. The New York Times today has a bridge column about the winners of the Edgar Kaplan Winter Regionals. That’s my uncle, the world bridge champion. He was an extraordinary and brilliant man, and I miss him with all my heart.
But there’s the bookshelf too, Mum’s bookshelf, with her shell collection and old decoy duck and lovely little things. And the books, picked up in her years down here – “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare,” books about history – “The Wars of the Roses,” “England under the Tudors,” “The Birth of France.” Books about art – “Great Prints and Print-making,” “Monotype.” Three dictionaries, for the crosswords. “Natural cures they don’t want you to know about.” “The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Vol.1.” “The complete estate planning guide” for some light reading. An atlas, of course, because she loved to look things up in an atlas. “Florida bound: A Canadian snowbird guide.”

I am here in Florida because my childless Uncle Edgar left money to my mother, which she used to buy this little place. He is here. She is here. And now I am here, and soon my daughter and grandson will be too. I am feeling very full of and grateful for the continuity of life – those who went before me, and those who are coming after.

It’s cool and overcast, a dark grey sky, but I had a swim in the pool anyway, because there’s a hot tub to warm you up beforehand, and I’m Canadian. The pool was cold; it was heaven. And earlier, I was walking on the beach when my cell rang and it was David, my father’s cousin, who lives nearby. I wish the sun were shining, but when there’s Bach and memory, all’s right with the world.

And now some pictures of the crowds in Florida on a cool day - the beach opposite Mum's place, and the pool and hot tub:


  1. What a lovely and moving piece, Beth. And it may be grey and cold but that sky! That beach! And the promise of your daughter and grandson...A rich beginning to the new year.

  2. You're right, Theresa - I feel extremely blessed and grateful. My love to you and best wishes for 2014.