My Mother turns 102 years old today. Dottie Burk Postove was born on December First, 1917, during the administration of Woodrow Wilson and in the midst of a world-wide flu epidemic that killed between 50 and 100 million people.
Mom was very lucky. She had a devoted doctor, Dr. Starr, who made his house calls in a horse-drawn carriage through the city of Norfolk. He saved her life. Ida and Harry, Mom’s parents thought that little Dottie was gone from the world, but Dr. Starr worked his medical magic and she was fortunate to live. And guess who else?
I can see her, 102 years old, living with me in Israel, taking walks together, having coffee at one of Israel’s fine cafeterias, and talking about our lives. My Mother did not know how interesting she was. But in the two years before she died we spent every night at 7pm (on the dot; she in L.A., me in Norfolk) just talking about family, pro basketball (she had someone found great comfort in watching those giants on TV…I knew nothing, so I listened), and encouraging me, always encouraging me, not to be sad, but to be more like her; someone who always looked on the bright side of life. I miss that more than anything. My Mother could find gold in filth; love in hate, and she had a saying; “Joey, kill ‘em with kindness.
I remember being four years old and Mom making up her and Dad’s’ tremendous king-size bed. I would get on the mattress, and she would put the sheet over me, then the blanket, and then kill me with her long ticklish fingernails, and smother me with a “squeeze and breeze, and all of the trees”. Not to mention all the liberal kisses that she bestowed on me.
You know what I think was perhaps one the greatest things she ever did? Well, when I turned 12 I stopped kissing my Father. I thought it was so sissy and pansy to kiss him. And we kissed man style right on the lips, dude. I stopped and Dad, I guess knowing that I felt uncomfortable about it all, stepped back. I could see his disappointment, but Jesus man I was 12 years old!
When Mom found out about this (I guess Dad told her) she was very upset. She said to me “Joey there is nothing wrong with kissing your own Father, and you have disappointed him and me too. Your Dad loves you very much, and I want you two to kiss each other when you go to school in the morning and when you go to bed at night. You kiss me all the time, you can kiss your Father once in a while”. I felt like shit. When you are 12 your parents are your entire universe, and the thought of them someday dying is so unfathomable you just put it out of your head. It goes into the kaputsville file.
I started kissing my Father again and didn’t stop until the day he died. For that and so many other things, Dottie Postove’s 102nd birthday leaves me in a blue funk, but also a prosperous heart. I lucked out in the folk’s lottery.
My wish is that you shared some of what I had with your folks.