Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What Today is Really About

This morning, Joy and I woke up about the same time before either one of us needed to be up, a feat that never happens. We had decided last night that we would walk up the street to vote this morning, but hadn't decided when.

"Do you want to throw on clothes and go vote?" Joy asked, "or go after breakfast and showers?"

"I don't know," I responded in my usual noncommittal way. "Let's ask Sam."

So we did. Sam wanted breakfast first, so we ate, then loaded Sam into his stroller and Noah into the sling, and then headed up the street. We asked Sam who he was going to vote for on the way. "Barack Obama" he shouted. When we got to the polling place I asked Sam again who he was going to vote for. "John McCain" came the reply. Want to find those 6% of undecided voters from yesterday? Sam's evidently one of them.

We were lucky at our polling place and there was no line. I took Sam with me and Joy took Noah when we voted. Sam was fascinated by the electronic voting machines we use and quietly whispered my choices on the "yes" or "no" answers so I didn't have a secret ballot. But I must admit that the geeky side of me (which is admittedly all sides) reveled in showing Sam the democratic process.

With our fresh "I voted stickers," Joy and I decided to take advantage of all the freebies in town by eating lunch at Chick-fil-a (free chicken sandwich with sticker!). We decided to meet up after my 10:00 practice session at the one halfway between the house and work.

I arrived first and the line coiled outside the door and down the sidewalk. I took my place in line behind a couple with their young son up on the Dad's shoulders. The boy wasn't much older than Sam and had evidently recently potty trained because his underwear and pants were hiked down lower than the proverbial plumber. That's right, his bottom was exposed right at my eye level. I sighed in relief when the boy finally wiggled his pants up and I heard the woman behind me mumble "I was praying that would happen."

She was an African-American grandmother of 14 wearing her Obama hat, shirt, and button. We began talking and through our conversation both before and after Joy joined us the import of the day fully hit me. She had woken up at 3:30 this morning, so excited to vote that she couldn't sleep. After lounging in bed until 4:30, she finally decided to head down to the polling place behind her house to be first in line when the polls opened at 6:00. She was second in line, but that didn't dim her enthusiasm at all. Talking with her I couldn't help but be overwhelmed by her generosity of spirit and her outlook on the day. She kept repeating like a refrain "Isn't this a beautiful day," and she wasn't only speaking of the gorgeous weather we've had the past few days. No, she was talking about her ability to vote for a man who looked like her, something she never thought would happen.

No matter who you voted for today, I think you have to agree that woman radiated the spirit I hoped Sam would pick up when we went to vote this morning. Here she was, a woman who had felt kept on the margins of our society as a child living long enough to see a world where her grandchildren, boys and girls Sam's age, would grow up knowing that anything they dream of is within their reach. She felt alive with the promise of this country, a promise I pray will continue to expand, that anyone and everyone can strive and dream and achieve. It is indeed a beautiful day.


Liz said...

I felt the same way voting for a woman for VP. I was too young to vote when Mondale ran (though my parents voted for him).

Sarah said...

I have to agree with Liz, although that was a beautiful story and I love the way your kids were involved.
On another note, I did not know that Chick-fil-A was offering a free sandwich for voting! Very cool. I went for the free coffee at Starbucks but chickened out only because they were only offering the straight black stuff (which doesn't taste like coffee to me), and nothing with the fancy syrups and cream. First disappointment of many that day, but oh well!