Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Election Day.

I didn’t expect to get emotional when I voted this morning, but as I pulled up to the National Guard Armory, I thought of my Grandma Rosie.

Grandma Rosie was born in 1919 – “same as the root beer,” I always say – one year before women got the right to vote.

She LOVED politics. In her prime, if you walked into her house and the TV was on, it was usually on one of three channels: the country music channel, whatever channel was showing the Dale Earnhardt race, or C-SPAN.  Oh my lord, how she loved C-SPAN.  Not CNN – that was too flashy – but C-SPAN, because it was meatier and more in-depth.  She’d have it on all day, listening to congressional hearings, arguing back at the politicians she didn’t agree with and cheering on the ones she liked.  She was a voracious, curious reader and devoured Book TV on the weekends – I don’t think I ever once left her house without her asking me “what have you been reading lately?” and offering me some recently-acquired political biography waiting by the back door.  (I still have some of those on my bookshelf today.) 

She loved to talk politics, too, sometimes to the point where I think she drove some of her old lady friends a little nuts. But it was always something that me & my brothers would talk about with her – we paid more attention to that stuff than most kids, I think, watching the nightly news with our folks and reading the copies of Time & Newsweek littered around the kitchen at home.  She was fun to argue with.

Grandma Rosie loved Bill & Hillary Clinton.  She saw them as champions of the poor, the disenfranchised, the “people like us.”  In her eyes, they could do virtually no wrong – and when they did manage to mess something up, like all people (and politicians) do, she’d get frustrated with them like they were her own kids (“they’re better than that!”). 

Today, Grandma Rosie is 97 years old and lives at a nursing home here in town. She has dementia and has no idea what year it is, or that it’s November, or that it’s Election Day, or that Hillary’s running, or that we may very well elect the first woman President ever today.  After two years of listening to people yell at each other on the internet about the election, there’s a part of me that envies that.  :-)    But I thought of her the whole time as I colored in the dot next to Hillary’s name, fed my ballot into the magic ballot-counter box, stuck an “I Voted” sticker to my shirt and headed out to my car.  I like to think that somewhere, wherever that part of her mind has flown, she is well aware of what’s going on, and god help me if I’d voted for the other guy.  This one’s for you, Grandma.

Grandma Rosie in an Earnhardt frenzy, 1992.