Starting life anew after a pandemic—my aunt Carol and the Asian flu of 1957-58

October 19 | 2020

When my aunt Carol graduated from McGill Physiotherapy in May 1958, the relief she felt must have been twofold: Carol had fulfilled her diploma requirements, and the 1957-58 flu pandemic had run its course. The Asian flu that killed between one and two million people worldwide would cease to be a worry as my young aunt entered her first months of practice. So too would the rumours about its origins. Some people had attributed the pandemic to nuclear tests in the Pacific, others to Communist sabotage. For Carol, the real danger lay ahead. As I relate in my new memoir, The Smallest Objective, Carol Rutenberg Silver died tragically young from internal causes she was unable to subdue. 

More than fifty years later, a prize is still awarded annually in Carol’s name:

“So Far, So Good”—cooking with The New York Times 1961

October 12 | 2020

Today being Canadian Thanksgiving—spent in relative lockdown—I’m thumbing through my mother’s hefty New York Times Cook Book from 1961. As I describe in my new memoir, The Smallest Objective, my mother hosted elaborate dinner parties as a newlywed in the late 1950s and early ’60s. Singling out the page for “Moussaka a la Grecque” is my mother’s bookmark imprinted “So Far, So Good.” Tucked into the same page, too, is a note in her handwriting: 5 hours from preparation to cool stage. Big job to slice and fry—an eggplant yields many slices. Pictured here are other Greek holiday dishes from the same recipe book, suggested for a hostess with a sense of adventure and plenty of time on her hands. 

My grandmother’s Russian box—a story in miniature

October 7 | 2020

My Russian box, like a Russian doll, is hollow. As a teenager fleeing the pogroms in Lithuania, my grandmother Malca carried this enamel box with her on the passage to North America. It belonged, my mother told me, to Malca’s own mother. As I tell in my recent memoir, The Smallest Objective, Malca was my father’s mother, and she eventually acquired many beautiful objects. I’ve no doubt her mother’s box remained one of the most precious. To my discredit, I misplaced this family heirloom for more than a decade, then recovered it from a forgotten carton in my own basement. I can never regard it as an empty box. This box, for me, is brimming with stories. 


The Smallest Objective speaks to women

October 1 | 2020

Please enjoy the following radio interview and print excerpt based on my recent memoir, The Smallest Objective. Both appear in media tailored to a female audience:

Sharon talks to Robyn Fadden, host of Montreal’s CKUT Radio 90.3 FM show In the Motherhood:

Sharon shares an excerpt from her book in the international online magazine Women Writers, Women[‘s] Books, edited by Barbara Bos:

Closing out World Alzheimer’s Month—a few observations on memory

September 29 | 2020

Pictured here are my maternal grandparents, Rose and Maurice, during their carefree period of courtship before the Great Depression. As detailed in my recent memoir, The Smallest Objective, this phase of life—late adolescence to young adulthood—tends to be the one we recall most vividly in our later years. But when my grandparents revisited this photo, what did they themselves remember? The giddiness of young love, or the economic collapse that forever compromised their future? All of us are subject to memory loss, gaps, and modifications in how we recall specific events. In this way, the shortcomings in memory common to people with dementia are more familiar than we might like to acknowledge.

The Smallest Objective on CTV News for World Alzheimer’s Day

September 22 | 2020

I was delighted that CTV Montreal decided to interview me about my memoir, The Smallest Objective, for World Alzheimer’s Day. Thanks to news anchor Caroline Van Vlaardingen and the rest of the CTV team for helping to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s.

Here’s the link to the interview:

A date to remember—September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day

September 21 | 2020

My parents’ wedding day, one of the most treasured days in their lives, was one they eventually couldn’t recall. Both developed dementia in their later years, as recounted in my recently published memoir, The Smallest Objective. Today, September 21, World Alzheimer’s Day, please remember and support those people living with dementia, along with their caregivers. 

What we can do:

  • Talk to others about Alzheimer’s. Help to destigmatize the disease and raise awareness. 
  • Donate if you can to Alzheimer’s research. 
  • Support people with Alzheimer’s by offering friendship and other forms of support.

The Smallest Objective in the news!

September 16 | 2020

From Montreal to Toronto to Miramichi, New Brunswick, my new memoir, The Smallest Objective, is in the news with a special emphasis on World Alzheimer’s Month. Please enjoy the links below:

Objects & memory—the mind in flight

September 14 | 2020

I can no longer remember where I acquired the trio of buttons shown here. What I do recall is that I rediscovered them while writing my memoir, The Smallest Objective. In my mind, the buttons have become inseparable from my aunt Carol—the leading lady of the chapter “Lake Patzcuaro” and an early adopter of travel by plane in the late 1950s. The buttons have more recently assumed a further meaning—the yearning for take-off during these months of coronavirus. One day, I hope, this association, too, will be relegated to memory. During September, World Alzheimer’s Month, please remember those for whom the fullness of recall is permanently out of reach.

Flying buttons

My new memoir a suggested read for World Alzheimer’s Month

September 8 | 2020

I’m delighted that the Canadian book site 49th Shelf has chosen The Smallest Objective as one of five suggested reads for World Alzheimer’s Month: