Today Belle Littenberg, née Bella Wisnowitz, who then became Belle Wisner, then Belle Bloom, then Belle Littenberg, turned 101. She’s survived two world wars, a flu pandemic, a Depression, and the deaths of three husbands. She’s watched as the Civil Rights movement, the women’s rights movement, and the gay rights movement unfolded, as the Soviet Union rose and the Cold War ended. She voted for our first Black President and plans to vote for our first woman President, too. She is a mother, a grandmother, and a Scrabble champion with a filthy fucking mouth. She is generous, and open-minded, and whipsmart, and empathetic. She took my mother and aunt to the ballet their whole childhoods, when she was a single mother and cheap seats at Lincoln Center cost $1.50. She’s a lifelong balletomane and opera-goer, but she hasn’t been to a live ballet in years. Her surprise birthday present was tickets to American Ballet Theater’s 75th anniversary gala tonight, and she loved it.
Happy birthday, Grandma Belle. You are a role model, and an inspiration, and one of these days, I am going to beat you at Scrabble. I really fucking am.