I've been missing for oh about 2 months now from the blogosphere... I had no idea why after the most historic election in the history of the United States of America I was completely and utterly unable to blog about anything. It's not that I didn't have a ton of things to write about, thoughts and stories to share, etc... I did. I just couldn't for some reason actually write about them. My apologies to all of you who have asked me why I've been silent; to all of you who so graciously took a few moments of your precious time to tell me how much you missed my insight in this the most interesting political time in our history. I think my silence had mulitple dimensions. I generally don't like to blog about my family. I have, but in general, I try to separate them from my blogging for personal reasons. That said, I couldn't do that in this case. My family was so integral in how and why I felt as I did about this election, that not including them and their reactions was not possible. So here goes, family and all, with all my love for them, and how much this meant to us all...
First, the night of the election, I went to a watch party early with my girls. The youngest, just 9, said to me "Mom you've talked about this so much I'm actually interested in what's going to happen tonight." I was tickled that my daughter as such a young age, got it. Later as we were at the party, I got this twitch, I needed to be home with my family and in particular, my father. I turned to my girls and said, "We're going home to watch the final results with grandpa.", The youngest replied, "Yes, mommy, grandpa going to be really emotional tonight and you're right, he needs us with him." So we went home.
My husband and I watched the 10:00pm pronouncement of our new president alone in our bedroom. We just sat there silent, he grabbed my hand as the tears started to run down my face and we let it sink in. After about 15 seconds though, I heard my father scream and we met on the stairs with him shouting and cheering and then, he grabbed me and broke down into tears. Watching my 77 year old father fall into sobbing tears when Barack Obama was elected president by the people of this nation was an overwhelmingly emotional thing for me personally.
My father actually started crying that morning. When I came down the morning of November 4, 2008, my father was watching the television with tears in his eyes. I plan to write an entire blog on my parents at some point (although this really should be a novel), but suffice to say that a 77 year old African American man who served his country as a hero in the Korean War only to come home to the severe racism of the late 1950's in America, who 10 years later married a white woman from Neenah, WI when that was illegal in 38 states, who raised 4 successful biracial children in a time when the national was in unbelieveable turmoil, who has been personally discriminated against more times than any human being should ever have to endure, and through all of it, became a leader in his community, fought on the front lines of the civil rights movement with his children at his side, a man admired and respected by all who know him, a suburban soccer dad, a grandpa extraordinaire, a father to all he knows, a husband of 42 years to my lovely and strong and beautiful mother, always keeping his sense of humor, his love for all of humanity and his love for living, to see a man I've only seen cry a few times in my 41 years and only at the loss of his closest and most adored relatives. To see my father openly sob as he said, "I never thought I could live long enough to see this." All those years of disappointment that he held to himself just poured out of those tears.
The tears were not entirely sad, they were full of joy, love for our country, patriotism beyond patriotism and love for all Americans. They were tears that all those who came before, those my father knew and worked with to make this country look beyond skin color, that their work was not in vain. They did something then so profound that the fruits of their sacrifices had taken longer than they hoped and shorter than they imagined. The tears were full of hope and optimism and dreams and they were followed by dancing, cheering, setting off fireworks, and we laughed and listened to our neighbors, friends, the students on UWM's campus as they did the same.
On top of all of that, a friend, a young African American man, emailed me shortly after the election with utter dismay. His father who was all the things my father was, did not live to see this day. He died just a few years ago, "If he could have just held on a little longer... " he said. "I so badly want to celebrate this with only one person, my father who gave me a love for my country when that same country didn't love me." He was torn to shreds inside that his father didn't make it.
Another emailed me that the night of the election, when the rest of the world was partying hardy, he grabbed 10 bottles of champagne and went to the local primarily African American cemetary in Milwaukee and poured just a bit on every grave.... these stories still bring tears to my eyes and still make me stop typing...
Well, I've been silenced by it all.
Next, my silence came from my wonder as to what I could possibly say that would be profound enough to even give this moment in history it's due. How could I possibly thank those who worked so hard over the last 8 years to bring the truth to light? How could I possibly thank those Americans who went with their gut and their upbringings of fear and suspicion of people who don't look like them, who took a chance and voted for Obama when all they had to go on was hope...? How could I possibly put words on something so beyond words?
Finally, in the end, the election of Barack Obama to be our next President touched us all in ways we cannot even begin to describe at this point in history. This country needed a jump start. A fresh look at how we do things, how we treat each other, how we work together and how we deal with the world. I will not always be all rosy about Obama in the future. I will continue to tell it like I see it out here and give praise and criticism where due. The higher purpose, a more just and free society for ALL people, is always my concern and will always be my concern. Where Obama is right I will cheer him, when wrong I will criticize. This is necessary and I have no qualms about it. I am so excited though to have HOPE again. To have a president where right or wrong, he will always listen to all sides, he will always take into account all the factors and he will always ask one question before he makes a decision. "What's best for all of us?"
This is all I will have to say on the subject of the election, as I'm still pretty choked up.