Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Prose - Voting Registration, 2008

Ovada, at 90 and now 91, has been saying for months, she wasn’t going to vote. Its been a while since she’s voted, seven years since she left her hometown. You might say, she’s become a dropout of sorts. I, being her daughter, think she is just fed up with the whole system and has ‘almost’, lost interest. This is a way, possibly, of pulling inward, away from life, rather than staying involved.
A friend of mine, Edie, was registering people. So I asked her if she would register my Mom. She calls last Thursday to come over and do the paperwork. I say I’ll call her back when I ease my Mom into the idea.
“I’m not studying Edie,” my Mom says as she’s cooking her breakfast. This is her way of saying, ‘leave me alone’.
Edie tries again another time, but my Mom is in bed asleep. She ends up staying in bed all day, not feeling well.
So then I see Myrna, who is also registering, she would love to come over. But, that also, never happens. Myrna tells us how to do it online. By now its Saturday, with the deadline on Monday.”
I decide to call my granddaughter’s cell phone. My Mom would do almost anything for this great-granddaughter. I leave a message, asking if she could register her grandmother online today. I never heard a word, guess I should have text. Then I decide to pull out the big guns and ask my daughter, Jennifer, who lives here, if she had time to do it online. In her busy life she just wasn’t sure she would, maybe on Sunday, she says. Sunday night she calls, she’s online and is ready to do the registering. But, much to our dismay, she could not complete the process. My Mom doesn’t have a driver’s license with this address, it’s all still in Alabama.
Monday comes, my daughter calls mid-morning to say they are registering at Whole Foods. She says, maybe you can bribe her by offering to buy her a beef roast, just to get her over there. I pass this on to my Mom, who seems annoyed we just won’t let this go.
When I first brought up the need for her to register, I told her she needed to do it to cancel out my cousin Mary’s vote, who lives in Alabama. Just that seemed to nudge her a bit. I had also shared an email my daughter Laura had sent from Oklahoma about Why Women Should Vote. Ovada seemed moved by that, it stirred times past.
So she left me believing she did not want to go to Whole Foods. I went back to my computer work, giving up the idea of getting her registered. I was not going to get in an argument and force her. In a little while, she says ‘I’m ready’.
“What?” I ask, surprised. She never told me she would go. I say ‘wait a second, I’ve got to get dressed’.
“You’re always too busy to do anything”, she yells at me.
She keeps staying in a negative place, accusing me of whatever, that had nothing to do with what we were about to do. I manage to stay centered, somehow, only saying her comments do not relate to registering.
We get to Whole Foods. There is the young man in his orange sunglasses, just as my daughter had described. I let my Mom out where he was and went to find a parking space. When I got to them, they had already started with the information. We completed the process.
As we got back in the car, no we didn’t even go in Whole Foods, or get the roast beef, I could feel everything had changed. Ovada was elated. I could not believe how much lighter she seemed. We both felt a monumental feat, had been accomplished. Maybe she felt a new freedom and a part of the whole.
We can only hope.

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