About Me

Twenty years ago I asked a Tarot card reader what would I be doing when I was 50. She replied, “I see you doing something so wildly creative, it defies a job title.” Only recently did I realize that was a slick way of saying, “I have no idea of what you’ll be doing.” But that prediction kept me charging ahead to the fifties with zeal and anticipation. Now that the future is today, I’m ready for anything!

The Cherished Right to "Wote"

Back in the 1990s as  Minneapolis resident I attended a neighborhood political caucus. At the same meeting was a white-haired gentleman with a heavy eastern European accent. Whenever a motion was raised he’d go off on a long diatribe, no matter how tangentially related to the motion it was. The other delegate hopefuls rolled their eyes. I smiled in understanding.

The gentleman at the caucus reminded me of my dad, Michael Astor.  He was born Michal Ostrozovic in Czechoslovakia, or as it was known at the time, Austro-Hungary. He immigrated to North America in 1929 but remained in touch with his sisters Mary and Barbora. I remember seeing their air-mail letters, parchment-like envelopes addressed in spidery script. I don’t know what they talked about, or if their mail was censored. It probably was.

For that reason, Dad cherished the right to speak his mind politically. It was fitting that he was born on November 2. At his funeral in 1977, I learned that Dad had been born in 1904, not in 1909 as the family had always believed. Grandma heard a longtime friend explain in Slovak that Dad had shaved five years off his age to appear more appealing to employers.

Years later, a relative researching the family tree found that Dad may have immigrated to North America illegally. Which, in the eyes of some, would make me an illegal immigrant as well.

Because his sisters weren’t able to do so, Dad cherished his right to vote, or as he pronounced it, “wote.” He voted in every election and couldn’t understand why everybody didn’t.

On November 2, we have a right that not everyone in this world has. Cherish it. Wote.

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