Eight years ago today Barack Obama became the first African American president in our nation’s history. I think about that a lot, and I wonder if the Obama’s celebrate this date. I wonder if they even remember what the date was, as at that point a presidential campaign is so insane they may only know what day it is because it’s election day so it must be Tuesday.
I remember this day eight years ago so very clearly because it was my mom’s 60th birthday. The last healthy one she had. I remember I gave her 60 beautiful roses and had Indian food delivered. She didn’t want to go out because she knew history was being made no matter which way it went, so we ate in front of the tv and watched the election results. After growing up in the 50s and living through the 60s, she was amazed. She voted for him, of course. But she honestly never thought she’d see the day where we had a black president. She was so proud of how far our nation had come that we would elect him.
Four years later she had been gone only three months, and I spent Election Day working my first election and once again hoping for an Obama presidency. I was nervous and scared about working the election, but it was an amazing experience. I was so grateful it was after her birthday that year, because I was a basket case for all of October. Things were Really Not Good for me then, and I basically cried when I breathed for weeks leading up to her birthday.
This year for her birthday I’m going out with a friend to see a fun movie. I can think of Mom’s birthday now without wanting to sob uncontrollably, but it took a few years. It’s still the hardest day of the year for me. I remember the date she was diagnosed with cancer. I remember the date she decided to start hospice care. I remember the date she died. I remember all the amazing Christmas Eves we had together, and all of my birthdays, but her birthday has always ALWAYS been, for me, the hardest day of the year to get through.
I’ll be working the election again, as I have every one since 2012. It’s still an amazing and humbling thing to do. I’ll be honest and tell you I’m more than a little worried about something happening at the polls, but I also know Mom’s watching. And pretty pissed off she wasn’t able to vote for Hillary. She would have been ALL OVER voting for her. And if she was retired by now, I’m sure she would have volunteered for the campaign.
But I know when I cast my vote, she’ll be in the booth with me. She’s the one who taught me how to vote when I was little and we walked to my parents’ polling place. My parents and I are of a similar mind politically, and as the only Democrats in a family of Republicans, it sometimes gets a little dicey. But she’s the one who taught me to think for myself. To look up the issues. To not just be a voter, but be an INFORMED voter. If I had questions, she’d answer them. If I wanted to know how she was going to vote, she’d tell me, but always with the caveat that I should make up my own mind, and not just vote the way she and my dad did.
All during this campaign I’ve ached to talk to her, and I know she would have had a LOT to say about the shenanigans. Most of it would have been colorful. Who do you think taught me how to swear?
So today, on her birthday, I miss her so much. And on Tuesday when I vote, I’ll miss her even more. But I think she’d be proud of what I’m doing and how I’m going on without her. At least I hope so.
Happy birthday, Mom. I wish you were here.
And don’t haunt me because I posted this picture.
Lynda the Guppy
aka The Bear’s Daughter