Sitting on my cushion-top-queen-sized bed with my laptop perched on my legs, connected to the readily available Wi-Fi, I find it difficult to pick out one of the four JV values on which to reflect. Can you catch a glimpse at the irony yet?
Honestly, most of this difficulty is rooted in the fact that my transition out from my year in Montana—a year that I still talk about as if it was yesterday, but in all actuality ended over 5 months ago—was non-existent. In other words, I just didn’t transition. I was stuck. Still kind of am. Longing for my experience, my students, my babes, my mountains. Unsure of my next steps; afraid to take any at all. I finally settled on a part time job for now, and I have come back to my ever-winding, roller coaster path to law school. (Took the LSAT on Dec. 3rd, waiting around for that score like it’s my job).
I think I will go with community on this one. If I were to choose any of the others, I don’t believe much constructive reflection would result. (I guess that is sort of a reflection by not reflecting? Alas.) Community has been very important for me both in helping me through this rut that I have found myself in, as well as empowering me to MAKE IT THROUGH THIS ELECTION. I have re-discovered high school bonds (shout-out to my Sacred Heart forward-thinking women), found out what it is like being close with my sister as a wife (and countless important cuddles with her pup), both went to visit friends near and far and was blessed to have them come to me. I have, most importantly, come to the realization that I do not have much time left with my grandparents, so I know that finding community with them is a priority for me.
My dad’s parents were born in 1925 and 1927. 91 and 89. Gene and Jo. Just take a second and think about all the changes that have occurred in their lifetimes. Wars, depressions, growth, transitions, victories, progress. And to top that all off, they, personally, just celebrated 70 years of marriage together last month. Can you imagine? …
My grandma (I call her Baba, short for Babushka, which is grandmother in Russian and Polish) has served as a “Pantsuit-powerhouse” inspiration for me ever since I was a little girl. (Catch my political drift here? Eh? Bueller?) She is a complete badass—marrying my grandpa young to get out of an abusive situation with her stepfather—and she approaches every day with a heaping dose of vim and vigor, even now at 89, legally blind, and starting to slip with her memory. She never backs down; and now that she is slipping, it can definitely be frustrating trying to reason with her when she is mistaken, but I kind of love her for holding her ground just the same. I could write pages and pages about this woman, but my grandpa is going to be my focus for the purposes of this post.
When I think of Pap-Pap, I see a dimly lit basement where we would play countless hours of Rummy 500. I see the 75-year-old tattoo on his forearm that bled together over the years to form a shapeless black blob. I see his cut off index finger from when he slammed it in a car door; the same finger he used to tickle me with and I so originally called “wormy”. I see his smile. I see his eyes.
Born in rural PA, Paps enlisted in the army when he was a whooping 16 years of age. He traveled all over the world during WWII, most notably rushing Omaha Beach on D-Day Plus 2. He doesn’t talk much about this time in his life (understandably so), but I have gathered that he earned multiple honors and awards, one being 5 bronze stars. He fought, and then when he thankfully came home from war, he fought some more. He worked his entire life (until his late 70s) to provide opportunities for his sons. Opportunities that he was never given. He was a soldier, truck driver, police officer, bus driver, etc.; he humbly worked hard his whole life. He is the contrast to Baba’s outspoken pertinacity. He is a quiet strength. A calm resilience.
I had the distinct honor of helping Baba and Pap-Pap fill out their early ballots to vote for the first woman President of the United States. I went over to their room, sat down with both individually, made it all official, talked about some of the candidates for local government positions, and showed them where to sign. I couldn’t help but be a little misty over the fact that my grandmother, who was born just 7 years after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, was voting for Hillary. It was a beautiful moment. After I closed their envelopes and set them aside, I had a few minutes alone on the couch with Paps. We don’t always feel the need to fill the silence. Especially after a stroke awhile back cut back on my grandpa’s ability to speak. We have since formed our own kind of conversation filled with lots of telling looks and yes or no questions. On this day, though, I veered off our conversation track a little. Maybe it was the adrenaline from the ballot, maybe it was just one of those things.
I asked, “Pap-Pap, why Hillary? Why did you want to vote for her?”
He thought for a second, slowly and carefully formed the words together, and answered, “Why wouldn’t I?”
“Why wouldn’t I?”
WHY WOULDN’T I.
Why wouldn’t he.
Simple as that.
Why wouldn’t my 91-year-old, WWII veteran, truck-driving, rural-Pennsylvanian, hard-working, resilient grandfather vote for her?
I was speechless, dumbfounded. I think I let out a little sound of agreement (I think), and then we went back to sitting in our comfortable quiet, until Baba came back in the room going on about some unimportant object that is perpetually lost.
This short conversation has stuck with me through the dark parts of this election.
Over a month later, and I’m still upset. I’m scared—unsure of the direction our country is headed come January. I’m not going to say that everything will turn out all right, because it probably won’t—at least for a while. But I have been influenced by my grandpa to know that I have a lifetime (here’s hoping) to work. To work hard. And because of the sacrifices that he made and that my parents have made, I have this wonderful and amazing opportunity to go to law school. To study the very core of what allows or outlaws injustices in our country. And to work towards closing that gap of injustice as much as I can.
I think the next time someone asks me “why law?” or “why would you want to go to law school during a Trump presidency?” I will channel my inner Paps and simply say,
“Why wouldn’t I?”