Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Unusual Teachings

Most little girls grow up having fond memories of their grandmothers teaching them to bake cookies or gently showing them how knit and crochet. Grandfathers most likely helped little girls ride bikes, demonstrated how to hook a worm, or even came to the rescue when constructing a handy school project. For better or worse, my fate did not include these cozy normalises.

It's funny how life plays out. This past August my family received the sad news that Mamoo (my grandmother) was going to lose her battle with lung cancer. I vividly remember thinking, "Mamoo has to live long enough to see the results of this election." How strange is that? I find out my grandmother is going to pass away, and my first thoughts turn to the presidential election. I have every confidence that she left this world listening to the conservative, right-wing voices of the Fox News reporters.

In 2003 I said goodbye to my grandfather, my first real political educator. At the time I had no idea how accomplished and involved with local and community politics this man was. As a child I viewed him as a fanatical Republican who obsessed over "the big one" (as he so often referred to World War II), and seemed way too preoccupied with his high status in the Masons. I often brushed off his stories and made light of topics that I'd now give my right arm to have him discuss with me.

Both of these individuals played an instrumental role in shaping me into the strong, opinionated woman I am today. Mamoo and Pap were staunch Republicans, racists (though they would never admit this), hard workers, depression era children, and above all, God-fearing people. They failed to view topics and subjects from multiple vantage points, but were firm and solid in their beliefs. Although neither of them could boast of any formal education, they were smart, full of common sense, and very informed.

My grandfather never called me on the telephone. However, during the presidential election of 2000, he left a quirky message on the answering machine in my college dorm. He tried to be crafty and posed as a solicitor seeking contributions for the Bush campaign. It was hilarious and far better than all the birthday money and Christmas presents he ever gave me. At about that same time, I had been shopping in the campus bookstore and came across a cut-out postcard of Bill Clinton's face. I took great pleasure in purchasing the lovely greeting and quickly mailed it out. After Pap passed away, I discovered the postcard taped to the back of his bathroom door.

I have a sincere passion for arguing and I believe it stems from a lifetime of listening to Democrat bashing and Bill Clinton hating speeches. I credit Mamoo and Pap for providing the political banter that was, and currently remains, a cornerstone of Kaufman family dinners and gatherings. Yea, my grandparents weren't the cozy type, and didn't really fit the role of the typical family elders. My Mamoo and Pap were better. I credit them with giving me my first opportunities to play devil's advocate (anything they said I would argue with), demonstrating that it's important to be informed about politics and the happenings in one's country, and modeling how to be vocal about one's opinion.

Dear Mamoo and Pap,
You would have hated this election. I know you are up in Heaven talking trash about the current state of this world, and you're probably right. It's in shambles down here. Pap, a black man will be president. Mamoo, I know you thought his wife was "Amazonish". Maybe you were right about Mitt Romney afterall.

To think that a good old POW lost to a hotsy-totsy, young, inexperienced community organizer must have you up in arms. Has this country no appreciation for those that served this great nation?

I thought about coming to your graves and leaving Obama mementos, but I worried that you might take revenge and haunt me. Due to my extreme fear of the supernatural, I decided against it. Do they have Fox News in Heaven? You should know I hate that channel, and exclusively watch CNN. I included some photos for your viewing pleasure.

You'll be happy to know that I proudly voted Republican, although you both probably bet against it. Chad-0 and I even went as far as to attend a political fundraiser and put a campaign sign in the yard.

See, all of that arguing really paid off. I ended up seeing things your way afterall.... Let's give this guy a chance, at least he fights for education.

Your "Democratic" Grandchild,


Maria said...

Beautiful tribute. We do learn certain lessons from the strangest places. Your grandparents sound like really unique individuals. They passed their passion on to you.

I agree, he is our president now and we need to give him a chance to fix this mess. (it will be easier for me, I traditionally vote democrat...don't tell!)

Greta said...

You playing devil's advocate- REALLY? I loved the words and wisdom of your grandparents. Perfectly Cathy! Hope to see you soon! Miss you!

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