Tuesday, April 5, 2022

My world bridge champion, and Benjamin Franklin

Sitting at my desk, in tears. I've been trying for a long time to figure out how to write about one of the most important men in my life, my uncle Edgar, famed in certain circles as a world bridge champion, an expert and witty commentator on the game, owner and editor of Bridge World for thirty years. I have boxes of material: scores of articles, his Waterman pen and some silver trophies, the high school yearbook of which he was Editor-in-Chief, many photographs. I was going through them when I came upon the one that made me cry: my parents with Edgar and his wife Betty in Paris in 1974. All of them magnificent, all of them gone. 

Edgar is a rare name, yet there are three in my family: my ex-husband's father, my ex, and my son who has it as his middle name. Betty's married name was Elizabeth Kaplan, which is my name. So there were two Edgar and Elizabeth couples in the family. 

I have the letters of condolence that were sent after his death from President Clinton, Vice-President Gore, Mayor Giuliani. How to tell the story of my bond with this brilliant, difficult, extraordinary man? He was a musician too and travelled with mix tapes he made of his favourite classical music, mostly Baroque. I have a few of them and was just listening to Pergolesi's glorious, exalted Stabat Mater. More weeping. Not tears of sadness, just tears. For loss, for gratefulness to have known them all. 

Last night, on the other hand, pleasure - three hours of superb television. The first half of Ken Burns's doc Benjamin Franklin, about a fascinating man with a nimble mind and phenomenal drive who rose from poverty to become writer, printer, inventor, a leader of his colonized people. And, it turned out, a slave-holder and lousy husband and father. Two more hours tonight. 

And then the next episode of My Brilliant Friend, surely as profound an exploration of the intricate complexities of female friendship as has ever been filmed, or written. What an infuriating pair they are. Fabulous. 

A few things not so pleasurable: discovering that my lovely wool living-room rug, bought from a local shop only four years ago, had been devoured by moths. They chewed a long trench but it was under the coffee table so was invisible until much too late. Had to throw it out. Also, royalties. Royalty statements are coming in, reminding me how absurd this business is financially. Absurd! And yet we do it. Jean-Marc is helping me prepare an actual print book of my blog posts from 2007-2017. He said a hundred years from now, a student writing about the 20th or 21st century in downtown Toronto will use it as a resource. There's 1.2 million blog words covering those ten years. Quite a lot for that student to wade through.

Through right now, it's not looking as if there'll be much of a world in a hundred years, if any at all.

Put that thought away. Time for lunch and coffee, and back to work. No more tears. 

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