Dreams from My Mother

Since my mother died five years ago, I have discovered that I miss her the most in the autumn and during election years. Her birthday is today, and she died on October 10, 2003.

She loved college football, particularly the University of Tennessee. Okay, she loved only Tennessee college football. I remember her listening to the radio on Saturday afternoons to John Ward, broadcasting the Vols. As a child of the television era, I only watched when the Volunteers played on TV, an event that happened in the late 60s or early 70s, one or twice a year. Even when the Vols garnered TV coverage almost every week, Mama continued to listen to John Ward.

Mama was fanatical about the Democratic Party. She may have voted for the Republican nominee Dwight Eisenhower, the World War II hero. But I can’t verify that.

I remember watching the 1960 Democratic convention with her. She supported LBJ, but was won over to JFK. She loved and admired the Kennedys, even when their faults were exposed. I learned from her that God often chooses flawed people to carry out his missions. She cried when both Kennedys were assassinated.

Unlike a lot of Southerners, she continued to vote straight Democratic after Lyndon Johnson pushed through the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While she never openly said that she was anti-war, both my parents were happy that my brother spent his Vietnam era time in the Air Force in Alaska and Georgia (the southern state, not the country).

When I first voted in 1972 as a college student at (where else) the University of Tennessee, I walked from the campus to the Knox County Court House to get an absentee ballot to cast for George McGovern. When a group came around to the dorm, canvassing students, I was the only one voting for George McGovern. I was discouraged by the outcome of my first Presidential election, but found a few liberal souls to drown my sorrows with beer.

During the 80s, my older sister became an ardent Reagan supporter and attended his inauguration in Washington. Mama was dismayed.

When I wed in 1992, I married a conservative Republican, to the amazement of my sister and my mother (for different reasons). I compared our marriage to the Matalin-Carville union. By 1996, my conservative husband turned Democratic on his own. My mother was elated, while his mother was horrified. My mother-in-law had just turned pale and speechless when we announced our engagement in 1991, but in 1996, she vocalized her displeasure at John’s vote to re-election Bill Clinton.

Meanwhile, my mother continued to stand by and defend Bill Clinton throughout the Monica Lewinski scandal.

In 2000, my mother called me on election day and cried, “Your sister is driving people to the polls for the Republican party.” “Well, that’s not so bad,” I replied and tried to be the diplomat between two strong individuals, “maybe the people will vote Democratic.” Mama loved her native son Al Gore and couldn’t believe that the state of Tennessee didn’t support a man, “whose daddy had done so much for the state.”

Until her death in 2003, my mother never stopped complaining about how George Bush stole the election in 2000. My sister complained to me that Mama brought it up to her every time they talked. I, too, complained that Mama couldn’t get over the election. I told her repeatedly, “well, it’s over. We can’t change it now.”

When she died in 2003, I lamented that she probably complained to God about George Bush as soon as she entered Heaven. I suggested to my sister than we have folks donate to the Democratic Party in her memory, but that didn’t gain acceptance in the family.

When we were going through her worldly possessions, my sister asked to take her billfold with her driver’s license, social security card, credit cards and her voting registration card. “Hey,” I protested, “There will be a Presidential election next year and Mama will still want to vote.” I joked, “Dead people can still vote in Tennessee.” My sister laughed lamely. A few months later over some Bloody Marys, Deborah asked me, “Did Mama like me?” “Yes,” I replied, “She just didn’t care for your voting Republican.”

In 2004, her beloved cousin died. I attended the funeral, and my brother pointed out a house and said, “That’s where Mama grew up. The house is still there.” “Oh, my,” I exclaimed, as in front of the house, was not a yard sign, but a huge sign promoting the re-election of Bush/Cheney 2004. Mama would not be amused.

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    lcreekmo said,

    This is a really great story. Your mama cracked me up, even hearing about her now.


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