I’m thinking about my mom a lot today.
Some of my very earliest memories of her involve her passion for politics. Before I was old enough to go to school, I was old enough to accompany her as she canvassed our Dearborn neighborhood, representing the League of Women Voters. I remember her and her friends debating the changes in Michigan’s constitution back in the late ‘50s; this was a few years before the current constitution was ratified in 1963.
I went with her to the polls as she cast her vote for JFK – a man exactly two days older than her, and the first president born in the 20th century. I remember watching JFK’s inauguration on TV with her, delighting her with the picture I drew of the handsome young president in his top hat. (Far from being hatless that day, he was the last president to wear one to his inauguration.)
An ardent feminist, she used to say that my older sister would be the first woman president, though I think she made her peace with the fact that Pat showed no interest in getting involved with the electoral process.
Mom died in 1987, so she never even heard of Bill or Hillary Clinton, who were living in the governor’s mansion in Little Rock then. No great shakes as a cookie-baker herself, she’d’ve been fine with Hillary’s feistiness, and happy to support her husband, “the first black president,” in 1992.
Pat and I have debated whom Mom would have supported in ’08, Barack or Hillary, but regardless of whom she voted for in the primary, I suspected she might have cried, as I did, when Barack Obama accepted the nomination. And again when he was elected. And yet again when he was sworn in.
Today, almost 30 years after my mother’s death, I voted in an election that I wish she were alive to see – an election that will, God willing, put the first woman in the White House. I thought of her as I stood in the voting booth. I voted a straight Democratic ticket, of course – my mom raised me right – but rather than punching the party button at the top of the ballot, I went down the list and thought about each vote as I cast it – this for the first woman president, that for the first woman senator from Pennsylvania.
I’m with her, Mom – and know you would have been, too.