Life With Horace

poetry & essays

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local hitchhiker turns 90

Wish I could claim that zinger, but my nephew Adam delivered it sotto voce during the round of group photos at my sister Annie’s house this afternoon. A headline typical of our old small town newspaper, the Hudson Register Star.

Finally mellowing nicely thank you, my one-of-a-kind, definitely wacky stepmother Dorothy turned 90 today, and Annie rallied us to make the trek to the Berkshires for brunch in her honor. After a nice meal in a Lenox full of City weekenders, we regrouped to West Stockbridge to hang out for the afternoon. What a luxury.

gathering for DorothyIt was wonderful to be all together for a normal, non-BDM* occasion. There are six of us, of varied parental combinations, and except for Julie, the youngest (who lives in NZ, so she gets a pass), we all showed up, plus four out of seven next-genners, two with offspring of their own in tow.

Dorothy is the last elder in my immediate family, the only one left who “knew us all when”. Despite a rather checkered career as mother and stepmother, she has cruised into old age shedding neuroses and snarky tendencies, endearing herself to her grandchildren as she mellows out.

At the end of the afternoon my sister and I were marveling at “Zen Dorothy”, laughing that it was too bad it took her so long! In the words of the immortal (equally screwed up) Peter Sellers, “it is better to be late than never”. Oh yeah.

Dorothy grew up in Brooklyn, as did my Dad.

She loves Lottie Lenya in Brecht, Eggs Benedict, jazz, books, books, books, silly humor, left leaning politics, the theater, Ed Levin silver jewelry, bright colors, her plants and The Weavers.

Her children, stepchildren, grandchildren and great-grandchildren certainly.

My Dad once, then not. Then again for a while, then… eventually not. They separated for the final time a few years after they remarried.

Her friendships have been long and deep, even though she has always been able to alienate people close to her at the drop of a hat.

She has always been without prejudice (except perhaps towards those inflamed by it).

And she hitchhiked.

Once she could no longer drive, before her move to assisted living, she made us all crazy hitchhiking in and around Hudson NY, or when she visited family if no one was available to take her somewhere at the exact moment she wanted to go. These days commandeering a ride on someone’s walker seat is the only possibility.

Happy Birthday Dorothy. You are a marvel. I’m so glad we were there to celebrate with you. Lots of love.

*BDM = Births, Deaths, Marriages