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Play With Me

I had only a few memories of my Canadian cousin, the daughter of my father’s younger brother, Paul. He had settled in Canada instead of America which was not his choice, but he had had no choice. Refugees rarely do. The family of five siblings—the parents left behind—were split up after an initial flight and a year of waiting for visas. The siblings left the European continent before their parents—our grandparents—could be saved. Now, decades later, Sherry was coming down from Toronto for Thanksgiving. We’d had a reunion in May, become Facebook friends, and were getting to know each other as adults.

And it was all because of an essay about my father’s Egon Schiele collection I had published in February that all this happened. I was doing some research and Googled Sherry. There she was on the board of a symphony in Parry Sound. Our fathers would have been proud; the musical strain in our family runs deep. So does athleticism. Sherry was an ice skater, a competitive ice skating judge, and she travels all around the world to watch competitions. Oh, I am proud of her.

Writing takes me to wonderful places and a reunion with a long-lost childhood playmate and relative is just one of them. Scholars contact me, other writers, students studying writing, or just a reader with a question, a compliment or a correction. I answer every request, every email. The purpose of writing is to connect—my voice into your ear—to share experience and history, and to add to the historical record. Why else bother to write?

I had a city day with Sherry on Sunday: the Whitney and the Highline. We meandered through the Frank Stella retrospective and commented on the shifts in his perspective from flat to three- dimensional. Born into privilege and successful early, some of my artist friends dismiss him, but I cannot. I am admiring of his persevering, playful spirit. The later wall sculptures, in particular, make me smile. I think Sherry enjoyed herself, too. After so many years, we were having a play date and this has nourished the blog I am writing here today.

One doesn’t have to suffer to create great work. No matter the source of our creativity, it is all worthwhile.

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