Friday, February 3, 2017

Women Talk

book club selection for this month

I facilitate a Seniors' Book Club in a local community centre. The members are women aged 65 to 90+ years of age. We are single, widowed and married; Welsh, English, Indian, Iranian and Canadian born. I started as a volunteer group leader about a year ago. I am amazed at how these women have bonded and how they so openly share their experiences and feelings. They meet outside of the group, share meals and visit other members who are ill.

The members do not always enjoy the books that they have chosen from the available bookclub sets at the library. But they always talk...

This month, we discussed  Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala, a memoir written by a survivor of the 2004 Sri Lanka tsunami. Deraniyagala lost her parents, husband and children in the disaster.  Wave dealt with her emotional state for the 11 years after the tsunami.  My group members found the book "too negative" and upsetting to finish reading but it did inspire an interesting discussion of women's roles.

One of my older Indian widows shared that she was much "freer" now that her husband was gone. She enjoys swimming, fitness classes and the seniors' centre in a way that she could not imagine when she was a wife. We talked about mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relations in different cultures. We talked about single adult children, long-distance parent/adult child relationships and the absence of grandchildren.

The book club is an example of women from a variety of cultural backgrounds having an opportunity
to talk about books but, more importantly, to feel empowered to speak openly about their own experiences and feelings. When we speak with others, we develop the understanding and compassion
needed to survive in troubled times.