Wednesday, May 26, 2021

not dead yet

I read the obits these days; what an old person thing to do. So interesting, what those writing choose to focus on and remember, the life we try to spy through the flowery prose. But today, something else: I found a death certificate with my name on it. 

My aunt Betty - my uncle Edgar's wife - born in Hungary in 1914, was, after marriage, Elizabeth Kaplan, as am I. I have a badge she wore at bridge tournaments: "Elizabeth Kaplan, Press." My husband once was also Edgar; we marvelled there were two married Edgars and Elizabeths. I was pregnant in 1984 when I went to New York to visit Edgar and Betty; when I saw her, we both recoiled in shock. Her swollen belly looked the same as mine, only mine was a baby, and hers was uterine cancer. She was 72 when she died in 1985. 

I am digging into the boxes about my uncle. Much dust. And what is wonderful about the dust on my fingers is that it shows that I'm alive. My fingers are dusty and so I'm not dead yet. Also planting - today planted Swiss chard and spinach, more parsley, and a pumpkin seedling John gave me. I'm looking out now at a forest of green. The garden is life.

And I'm reading George Saunders' "A swim in a pond in the rain," his analysis of the short stories of Russian masters Tolstoy, Chekhov, Turgenev, Gogol, and from that, a deliberation on writing. Beautiful. 

After getting trimly through the past year, I have recently gained five or six pounds. There's a belly. Perhaps a little too much life.

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