Chris Erskine: Does heaven have a dimple section? Does it allow beagles?

The plant survives, a year after Posh's death.
A year after Posh’s death, a memorial plant is still on the kitchen sill. Like us, it has survived a tough 12 months.
(Chris Erskine / Los Angeles Times)

When I was a kid, my mom told me I was the original Gerber baby, and I believed it. Then my sister claimed to be the original Gerber baby, and by then our mom wasn’t around to straighten things out, the way moms do.

No one straightens things out like a mom.

We don’t have any moms in our house anymore, to straighten things out, to order the dog food, to remind us that it’s trash day or that the dentist expects us there Wednesday.

My mom’s gone. My wife is gone. Her mom is gone. But they all trained us well before they left. We know just how to decorate for the holidays, how the garland drapes across the mantel and where Posh hid our favorite Santa mugs.


Been a year now since Posh departed. On the sill in the kitchen is this lovely arrangement that our friends Jon and Lisa sent when she died. That plant has somehow survived the entire year — like us, in the afterglow of her ineffable spirit. In the memory of her dazzling smile.

On the one-year anniversary, I posted a little online tribute.

It was about her dimple. She had just one dimple. But it was a good dimple, on the right side. As if God and Monet teamed up.

Does heaven have a dimple section? Does it allow beefy beagles? May they all rest in perfect peace.

Thanksgiving was a milestone in our ludicrous run of sorry luck. Life’s funny, then it’s not, then it’s funny again — you can count on that, and only that.

The other day, the boy warned me he’d been hitting Wiffle balls in the garage.

“And?” I asked.

“I only broke one thing,” he said proudly.


“The light,” he said.

As my buddy Daryl put it, I’m still the luckiest guy in Bedford Falls.

One light? That’s nothing. I complimented my son on his restraint, as I worried that maybe his swing was a little off (sometimes he drops his hands).

Just the one dimple. On the right side. But it was a good dimple.
(Chris Erskine / Los Angeles Times)

Yep, a year later life goes on. Last week at dinner, he and his sister Rapunzel, the one with too much hair, ran into Meryl Streep, an actress with too much talent.

“Her laugh is contagious,” my son reported later, then mimicked Streep’s trademark trill, which sounds like a piccolo tickling another piccolo.

Our neck of the woods is hardly a celebrity hot spot, but Vince Vaughn used to live nearby, and Miley Cyrus camped here awhile, before she shed her clothes and became a mega-star.

If there’s anything Hollywood rewards, it’s reckless nudity.

In our little town, Kevin Costner once came to back-to-school night. The other parents gave him props for that, as well as for sending his daughter to public school.

Good kid too. She and my older son were fifth-grade pals. To prove it, she once tied him to a basketball post with a jump-rope, which I think is where the term “dumb as a post” comes from — though it may have preceded that episode.

As a parent, you can’t overreact to antics like that. After a couple of weeks, Posh trudged up the hill to the little school and untied our son.


No angry note to the principal. We just assumed that’s what modern love had become.

Yet, spotting Streep at a sushi joint was something else entirely. The Actress of Our Time. Ethereal. If the sun shines right, it’s like she lets us see her soul.

“Her daughter’s someone too,” Rapunzel said of Streep’s dinner mate.

“Everybody’s someone,” I reminded her.

“Dad, we know that isn’t true,” she said.

You know, they call us boomers, because that’s the sound we make when we fall down, which we are increasingly prone to do. We may rant about younger generations, but they have nothing on boomer parents. When we were young, we bombed college labs and created free love. Before that, you had to pay for love, and no one had the money for it.

Much like the Greeks, boomers glorified love. Or at least made it more accessible.

Thing is, there seems to be less love than there used to be. Except right now, around Christmas, when we seem to grasp for the season more than ever, knowing it’s fleeting, knowing the holidays are when we’re at our most honorable and good. When, as a poet said, every kindness seems a hymn.

As with life, the Christmas clock ticks much too quickly. Good thing Starbucks started celebrating in July.

Whatever your beliefs, I think the best part of the holidays may be right now, in early December, when there is still so much that lies ahead — the hugs … the parties … the incandescent smiles.

So spin the dreidel, raise a glass....

To all the loves we’ve lost, the moms, the children, the pals and the beefy beagles — wherever they may be.


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