Eulogy, of a Sort [ 2004-06-08, 6:16 p.m. ]

In 1984 I turned nine. From that year I remember - among other things - Michael Jackson, Madonna, Ghostbusters, the Los Angeles Olympics, Mary Lou Retton, our Apple IIE, jelly bracelets, lace gloves, headbands, neon, sticker collecting, The Secret of N.I.H.M., Nancy Drew, sleepovers and boy-girl swimming parties. I also remember that my dad, then the editor of our local newspaper, attended the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco.

I didnít know what AIDS was or where Iran was or that East and West Germany used to be one country. I had three little brothers and I was on the swim team and thought Michael J. Fox was cute. Then my dad came home from the convention and he was excited. He had a special press pass and took his old leather book bag with him. My parents told me that for the first time, a Woman was running for Vice President.

Later that year I started fifth grade. I was happy because I got the cool teacher, Mrs. Beringer. She planned lots of fun art projects and had reading contests and took us on an overnight field trip. I had my first boyfriend that year. I liked to play tetherball and I wore shorts under my skirts so I could play on the bars at recess. That fall I remember my parents going to vote, and I couldnít wait to find out if the Woman was going to win or not. The next morning, Mrs. Beringer came to school crying.

I had never seen a grown-up cry before. But my teacher stood in front of my class and apologized but kept crying. She said she was so, so sad that Walter Mondale and the Woman lost the election. She felt sad and scared and she worried about the kids in my class and wanted us to be safe. President Reagan was going to stay President Reagan and it made her cry.

I donít get political on this site. I donít get political in my personal life. I donít like debating or slinging ďfactsĒ back and forth with people. But that doesnít mean I donít care. In the same way that I believe one can be spiritual without being religious, I think I can be politically-minded and politically aware without being politically active. I have strong views and my perceived unwillingness to stand up and fight for them does not lessen their strength. I choose not to argue. I choose to live as best I can in accordance with the principles in which I believe.

I believe in public schools, higher taxation for greater social services, lower college tuition, universal health care, soft puppies, red wine, good friends and uncontrollable laughter.

I donít know how to get political. I only know how to keep on trying, trying, trying to be the best person I can be. I donít want to fight, donít want to argue. I want to live by example whenever possible. So I donít get on soapboxes and canít site statistics but I know what I believe and I know what matters to me. I will generally bite my tongue rather than get in a mud-slinging match, although my patience has been tested. A few years ago Kent and I went to Cincinnati for Easter and his family took us out for brunch one morning. On the way, my mother-in-law asked us about Hillary Clintonís senatorial race. Her words, ďIt doesnít matter who runs against her, I guess, just as long as heís Pro-Life.Ē I bit my tongue. After brunch, we detoured through Cincinnati in order to drive alongside a ďchain of lifeĒ pro-life protest, and I had to bite my tongue, sit on my hands and count to 100 in order to not explode. I am an unrelenting, unbending supporter of a womanís right to choose, and my not-yet-in-laws nearly broke me that day, nearly saw me explode. But holding back then was a sort of Think Globally, Act Locally strategy Ė good relations with Kentís parents took priority, family harmony prevailed, and I saved my spite and venom for later when I could rant in private.

Does that make me weak? Timid or fearful? I hope not. My parentsí views shaped me, my teacherís views shaped me, my upbringing shaped me. My left-leaning heart bleeds with integrity and strength, I hope.

Kent has this Friday off of work; the stock market is closed due to Reaganís funeral.

And me? What do I think about his death?

I donít know.

But I know that words are a weapon and a tool, words are a gift, a mirror, a medium and a vessel. I appreciate them being treated as such.

I majored in Rhetoric, and find romance and passion and mystery and might in the cadence of words chosen with care and reverence.

I remember being afraid of the Russians.

I remember wanting the Woman to win.

I remember my teacher crying when he was re-elected.

It means the end of an era, I guess. Or, the end of the memory of an era, and the hope that the next twenty years brings us further and further from where we were and closer to where I hope we can be.

I told you, I donít know how to be political.

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