Skip to main content

A new day, a new world, it'll be ok

I haven’t written anything substantial in recent days because, well, I’ve been nervous and anxious and so uber-focused on the election that I was, frankly, boring. I bored myself, and I didn’t want to bore you with anymore political stuff. Because really, we’ve all had enough political stuff.

And then, of course, Tuesday happened. Around 10 p.m. Tuesday evening, I cried a great big sobbing-laughing emotion-releasing cry when I realized that Obama would be our next president. Tears of happiness, tears of hope, tears of disbelief, and tears of a tiny bit of sadness that my mom didn’t get to see this happen. I cried throughout Obama’s speech, and all day Wednesday, my eyes teared up and the goosebumps reappeared every time I thought of his words, of this moment in American history, of the magnitude of what lies ahead.

Obama’s anecdote about the 106-year-old woman reminded me of my grandparents. They are in their mid-80s, children of the Great Depression, parents of the 60s revolutionaries, grandparents of the gen-X and gen-Y kids who have finally stood up and said “enough is enough,” and great-grandparents of a child who will grow up without even flinching at the notion of a black president, or even a woman president. I’m awed when I imagine what their eyes have seen.

Throughout this election season, I have not really discussed the candidates or the campaign with my grandparents because I know they have conservative views, both politically and socially, and I didn’t really want to get into any kind of debate. I mean, come on, they’re old, they’re set in their ways, and arguing would just upset us both. But last night I called them, just to say hello.

My gram and I chatted for a few minutes about the usual stuff—the weather, the kiddo, baseball (I told you it’s in my genes!)—and then Grampa got on the phone. Before I tell you about my conversation with him, let me tell you a little about my grandfather: A retired Naval officer and school principal, he was an imposing figure who raised my mom and her three brothers with a heavy hand. My brother and I were extremely intimidated by him when we were kids, but by the time my sister came along, he had mellowed quite a bit. He was (and still is) intensely intelligent and a consummate teacher, always drilling us on math or correcting our grammar. To this day he reads the Sunday NY Times cover to cover. Grampa always needed to be “useful”—he would visit our home and mow the lawn because he just couldn’t sit still. He was never overtly affectionate with his children or grandchildren and he was extremely frugal, but he showed his love by building us things—amazing, super-sturdy furniture that will be passed down for generations. (In fact, the photo below was taken in the gazebo he built by the bay in the town where my grandparents have lived for 50-some years.)

Grampa aged very well until about 5 years ago, around his 80th birthday, when his mental acuity and physical strength really started diminishing. Now he and Gram are pretty much house-bound, unable to drive, and when we speak these days, he has a hard time remembering my name or the names of my husband or my siblings; when we see each other in person, he often confuses me for my mother. These are the symptoms of getting old, I tell myself, the payoff for living such a long, hearty, good life. But his eyes still sparkle their brilliant blue; think Paul Newman-blue eyes.

When we talked on the phone last night, though, my grandfather was sharper than he’s been in months. He was chatty and light and knew not only who I was but asked questions about my son and my husband and my home. I didn’t bring up the election—but he did. And this is what he said: “We waited up Tuesday night to see who won this election. A late night, eh? And I am pleased that this young man will be our president. I can’t believe it, a Negro man is president! What a different world. But I’m pleased. It’s scary times right now, isn’t it, love? But I think he will be a good president. You kids will be ok. I think it’ll all be ok.”

And when I hung up the phone I got teary-eyed one more time about the gravity of this week.

Comments

  1. Hi
    I am quite tall too. Nice blog.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wonder what my late grandfather would've thought of Obama's win. It's neat to hear the viewpoints of the older generations at this historic time. And how reassuring to hear your grandfather proclaim that all is right with the world. Awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love Grampa! I am teary-eyed now sitting at work!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Grace happens

Today Honey's roommate in room 364 at Maine Medical Center was discharged. Some other day I'll tell you about why Honey is in the hospital again, but this story is about the roommate because it's way more interesting. Let's call him Elton, because all I really know about him is he plays guitar in an Elton John tribute band and he's originally from the very northern part of England, bordering Scotland. (Or as Honey described it, "that place in England where the Roman Empire decided, nope, those Celts are crazy, and put up a wall.")

Elton was in room 364 before Honey arrived, and what struck me immediately, besides his delightful accent and soothing Liam-Neeson-esque voice, was his gentle, good-natured manner. He was going through heck from a botched surgery and compartment syndrome - pain and gore and fear of losing the use of his dominant hand - yet he spoke kindly and softly to every person who came into his room. Every time a nurse walked in, Elton gree…

Boardwalk ghosts

“Imagine this, buddy, in the middle of summer, especially near the Fourth of July. Wall to wall people, just sort of moving in and out of each other. Flashing lights. Loud music. Screams from Morey’s Pier, laughter on the swirly rides. Oh...and the food...ice cream, funnel cake, fudge, cheese steaks, pizza, fries...the smells alone would drive you nuts!” 
It’s 5:00 on the evening before his Nana’s funeral, and we’re standing in a windy drizzle on an empty Wildwood boardwalk. My mind has flashed back to the summer of 1991, when I spent a week here with my best friend. Wicked sunburn. Tandem bike adventures. Water slides. Thrill rides. A ground-shaking thunderstorm. Friendship bracelets. College guys taking showers outside. Ice cream and VCR movies every night.

Back in the here-and-now I’m trying to explain to Zippy what this place is like when it’s not October. He’s been to Rehoboth and Ocean City and Old Orchard Beach, but none of those come anywhere close to Wildwood in peak season.…

#WhyIMarch

Zippy and I hiked in the woods the other day, following the icy trails around Evergreen Cemetery. The cold air stung our eyes but the sun shone warm and bright, and it felt great to breathe fresh air. As he skipped and hopped and twirled beside, in front, and around me, I felt peaceful, happy, content. Until I realized the Womens' March is in a few days, I am going, and I don't know what to expect. I've never done anything like this, except for a few years ago at Occupy Philly, which was nothing compared to the numbers they're anticipating this weekend. The Women's March will be a peaceful protest, yes, but 200,000 is an awful lot of people in highly charged city during turbulent times. I felt anxiety creeping into my chest.

"So you know I'm going away this weekend, right? To Washington, D.C. For just two sleeps. Do you know why I'm going?" I asked Zippy.
"Because you don't like Donald Trump and he's going to be the President."
&…