My father got all dressed up. In a suit, a long wool navy coat. The clothes were swimming on him. He had been sick for several years. It was election day in Pittsburgh 1998, and even though he barely had enough strength to stand, he insisted I take him to vote. It was a cold, dark November day as dreary as it could be. We drove to the polls in the first grade classroom of the elementary school I had attended years before, and my mother years before that. There was a line and nowhere to sit but the tiniest little school chairs. My father looked at the line and knew he could not possibly wait, but also knew he could not leave without first casting his ballot. He valued the right to vote far to much to miss his moment alone pulling the lever. He was allowed to wait on a tiny little chair while saving a spot in line. Finally he made his way into the booth both proud and completely spent. Having accomplished the most important task he could think of, we went back home. When we came in the living room, he collapsed on the sofa with his coat on. He had made his mark. I will tell Jackson and I will tell you. Voting is the most powerful right we can never take for granted.
I woke up yesterday and with my eyes still closed I heard an elderly man on the radio talking about his father who was a former slave. He said his family always dreamed one day a black man would be president. I cannot imagine how good we are going to feel on Wednesday. When Barack Obama is president. When we can look at our neighbors across the street and across the ocean with pride and faith in a shared future. Shooby Taylor is singing, "Lift Every Voice and Sing."
Everyone I know is going around with this sense of dread, rather than this a feeling of setting the big ship right and getting ready to launch. Tomorrow we are all going to wait in long lines, meet some of our neighbors, and get that incredible feeling of the common dream being a possibility. When I was really little I went to see Pete Seeger and sang, "This Land is Your Land" so loud I was told to lower it. I never did. Not that this country is going to lurch to the left (although I would be just fine with that). We are going to find a center where all of us are invited in. I am not really sure what a socialist is. I do know that we are all sharing this planet for a short little window of time - and we need to respect ourselves and each other.
Stephie made the shirt in this picture two months ago and has been too superstitious to wear it. I think she should wear it today. And Tomorrow. And Wednesday, too.