January 17, 2021
A GRANDMOTHER’S HOPE
I haven’t blogged for almost a month, and my friend had noticed. “When are you going write another blog?”
The truth is that the past month has been full of Christmas, riots, the surging pandemic, and insurrections. I honestly couldn’t see that I had anything to add to the multiple essays, news articles and blogs as I watched endless news stories and recaps from Stephen Cobert and Jimmy Kimmel about the unsightly tangle of the pandemic, national disruptions and global devastation
Perhaps I could have written about how my anxiety was going through the roof, how I was easily distracted, that I was having difficulty concentrating, and how thankful I was for Xanax and wine. When I thought about writing about what was going on in my life and the world, I was linguistically paralyzed.
“Phyllis, It’s just too much!”. That’s what my friend and fellow graduate student Donna used to say when she felt overwhelmed. She would then find some distraction to escape the relentless pressures of graduate school, procrastinate, and after our second year of classes, she discontinued her studies because it was “too much”.
The past month has simply been “too much” due to:
- Getting through the holidays with no celebrations, no dinner parties, no company, no (live) church, no reason to get dressed up, no family, the absence of my grandchildren’s laughter as they unwrapped their Christmas presents, and only two place settings of my mother’s china and silver for Christmas dinner…..
- The sense of impending doom as Donald Trump continues to wreak havoc in the lives of all Americans, whether they voted for him or not, with increasing threats of domestic terrorism….
- The persistent presence of angry mobs blocking grocery store entrances, carrying signs, and refusing to wear masks because of collective delusions fomented by misinformation spewed on social media and by incompetent political leaders…..
- Watching in disbelief as our nation’s capital was taken hostage by gun toting, flag waving, MAGA hat-wearing “patriots” and the non-stop barrage of insurrection-related news (which I could not stop watching)……
But then I received a text from my granddaughter Lucy:
“Do you want to get together this weekend Gramma?” Before she departs for college, Lucy wanted to visit!
I had not seen my granddaughter Lucy for a few months, and we had not been alone together since March. Brief visits with my son’s family in Portland, when they occurred, included their entire family, huddled around the fire pit on their backyard patio. Lucy had planned to move back east for college last August. Instead, she has been attending college remotely from her upstairs bedroom at my son’s home in Portland. After five months of waiting, she is now preparing to fly out to Washington D.C. to begin in-person classes.
I met her at the front door wearing my N-95 mask. She was also wearing a mask and followed me from a healthy distance as I led her through the house to our three-season porch where we had the portable heater turned up to
“high”. My husband then opened all the windows and we sat across the room from one another, at least 8 feet apart, wearing masks (of course). And we began to talk and share with one another as we used to before we were separated by COVID. After a while Steve brought sandwiches and drinks to us. We removed our masks and for as long as it takes to eat a BMT 6-inch long sandwich from Subway, we were able to finally see one another’s faces. (She is so beautiful).
Lucy, who, as a fourteen-year-old, cried herself to sleep on election night in 2016, is determined to make a positive difference in this world. That unfortunate surprise over four years ago left millions of Americans disillusioned, frightened, and frustrated, including many members of Lucy’s generational cohort. Like many of their parents and other adults, they were devastated and confused, and over the course of the past four years, young adults like Lucy have become increasingly angry and disgusted. Decisions are being made by politicians, primarily old white men, that will impact Lucy’s generation long after those same old white men are gone. Until she turned 18 years old in May, she had no say at all in what occurred within the Inner Sanctum of political maneuvering and policy-making.
The election of Donald Trump and his failed presidency served to inform Lucy’s world view and passion for change. Over time she became active in local Climate Change efforts, Racial Injustice, Feminism, and LGBQT rights and as the editor of the Grant High School Magazine, she and her staff published intriguing, socially controversial topics.
She was accepted to attend the prestigious American University in Washington D.C. where she is majoring in Political Science with plans to eventually attend Law School. The university has a long-term affiliation with the White House and Capitol, and 95% of their students secure internships at the U.S. Capitol.
Quite simply, Lucy plans to go to Washington D.C. and kick some butt.
We visited, laughed, and talked about a myriad of topics including her boyfriend Henry, her long-term plans, and how difficult it has been for her to remain in her parent’s home when she would rather be out on her own, living as an independent young adult. I explained how my generation actively protested the Vietnam War and racial injustice, and I told her about the 1968 movie “Wild in the Streets” (starring Hal Holbrook) in which LSD was placed in the drinking fountains of the U.S. Capitol by young people who then assumed leadership of the country and how, although exaggerated, the movie represented the youthful sentiment of the late 1960’s. But over the past forty years, something has gone very wrong, and I apologized for the failure of my generation to hold the leaders of our country accountable for the slow steady decline of democracy, justice, and our earth’s crumbling ecosystem due to Climate Change.
We agreed that the survival of the Earth, the hope for a stable economy, the eradication of systemic racism and the health of our democracy are in the hands of her generation now. She is more than ready to be an active participant in the changes so desperately needed in our world and I have no doubt that she will, someday, become a political player in the game of government. I think the title “President Lucy Hays” has a nice ring.
This evening a weight has been lifted, although I have concerns about the inauguration of our 46th president, and whether further insurrection efforts will threaten the integrity of our country. But the big picture, the political landscape, the laws, legal decisions, and policies that will preserve our democracy, will be informed by young people many decades younger than myself. They are determined, bright, driven, passionate and angry.
Therein lies the hope for our democracy. I am hopeful not just for Lucy’s future; I am hopeful for the future of our country and our planet and all the future generations to follow.
As she prepared to leave, we decided that we would risk a hug (“don’t tell Dad”) and we stood on our front steps in a tight, and probably too long, embrace. As she slowly backed her car away from our house, she removed her mask so that I could once again see her beautiful smile, she waved “goodbye” and I cried. I have no idea when I will see her again, but I am certain that she will navigate the waters of her new world with agility and grace.