My book club is a place where I can seek refuge from the world for an hour once a month to have active and insightful conversations with the women who are part of it. I like to think that the book club that I belong to is unique as our membership ranges in age from 40 to most recently, 94. I love these women and what they bring to the club.
This past Saturday I attended the funeral of our leader Dorothy Johns. She very recently bequeathed the title of leader to me as she became sicker with those things that plague a 94 year old person including poorer eyesight. I was so humbled by this appointment and took it (and continue to take it) very seriously. Dorothy was a force to be reckoned with. She was one of the kindest and compassionate people I had the privilege of knowing even if it was for a short time.
One thing we had in common was our passion for reading. Dorothy was a person who took the time to research the books we would be reading through our Hamilton Public Library spending hours researching the reviews of books and the author biographies. She often tried to incorporate best-sellers with Canadian authors into our list for the year. This gave all of us the opportunity to read books we may have otherwise passed on while browsing the book shelves.
Being part of the this book club means a lot to me, as not only an avid reader, but a person who values the insight of the women who are part of it. Each woman brings a different perspective to the books we read including such first-hand accounts of living through the First World War. Other women of the group have been incredibly candid discussing stillbirths and miscarriages as we read Call the Midwife. For the one woman who shared her sorrow with us about her stillborn baby, it was the first time she had ever talked about her child openly. There were a few tears shed that meeting.
Further the women in the group have worked in various professions including nursing, education and law. They have lived through not only different decades but different centuries sharing what it was like to live through (and survive) The Great Depression in various parts of Canada and abroad in the 1930s. They have lived to see segregation and Residential Schools be the norm of a society in the 1960s and beyond. After reading Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese, it sparked an intense and lively conversation around Residential Schools in Canada and how finally, Canadians are speaking about this horrific event in our storied history. One of our members who is incredibly passionate about social justice issues spoke so passionately about the issue and what she remembers seeing and hearing as a child. I was so moved by her thirst for justice.
Book Club has also been a great place to laugh out loud as we discussed some ridiculous characters from novels recently read or the antics of some of the memoirists (Farley Mowat in Otherwise). Book Club is a place where there are no walls. We laugh freely, can debate fiercely and most of all, share our love of reading.
I hope I can make Dorothy proud by following her example. I have some big shoes to fill.