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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I cast my ballot.......

to allow my father to have a second Klondike.
And, then a third.

It's the least I could do for him for all he sacrificed yesterday.

Election day has always been a big day for my father.
He is and always has been a staunch Irish Democrat.
He makes no excuses for it, he's proud of it and he makes no bones about
his devotion to the "old guards" of Pittsburgh politics and the by-gone politicians and elected officials of yesteryears and how they shaped the city he loves and what it all meant to his life.
And, if you sit with him long enough---you are enlightened by the characters and the stories of Pittsburgh government and political races. He tells it all with great precision and exacting details--complete with dates and places and how it all correlates to every other time in history. He peppers his vocabulary with ward chairmen, county commissioners, his beloved Davey Lawrence and all the names synonomous with Pittsburgh's colorful Grant Street history.
They all play huge parts in my father's recollection of how the Democrats won his heart, saved his life and gave him the morals and the values he holds so dear.
At times the stories are touching, at times they are completely outrageous, at other times, bordering on unbelievable and at other times--downright hilarious.
Yet, they are the moments that shaped my father's life.
The moments that made Election Day a day he coveted.

I'm not sure if I ever mentioned this but I spend Tuesday nights with my father.
I make his dinner, I give him his medication, I watch TV with him and we talk about whatever it is he wants to talk about.
He asks about my weight, he tells me about his own struggles with dieting and then he never fails to mention his own mother's penchant for lard and bacon--which led to her be buried at the age of 89 at over 300 lbs (she could have lived to 100 if she wasn't so fat...he says it every time). He checks in on my church going habits and reminds me about upcoming holy days. He marvels about his grand kids--always asking me when Vince--his first grandson--will get his PhD. He says that he prays he will see it---and, I know he does. He never misses the opportunity to tell me just how proud he is of Toni for going to college and how he hopes she finds a nice boy to marry her there. He shares his worry about his oldest grand daughter---Alexa--living in Columbus on her own---a girl shouldn't be living alone in an apartment away from her family. He tells me about Frank Sinatra (did you know that the marks on his face were made by the forceps used by the doctor who was delivering him?) and Bing Crosby and John Barrymore and Gene Kelly and John Kennedy and Bishop Wright and Roberto Clemente and Bill Clinton and Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill ---to name just a few.
We watch the news and baseball and hockey.
He tells me about the glory days of Carnegie Tech football.
Every Tuesday night.

Last night started out a little differently.
"So, did you vote?" he asked as soon as I got there.
"Yes, I did"
"I am not voting anymore" he told me.
"I know, Dad."
"After the strokes, I don't think it's right" he said.
"I think you still can."
"No, it's not right" he repeated
"I can take you there now, if you want to go"
"No, Judi, I'm 89 and I had strokes. It's not right" he lectured.
"I still think you can"
"No, my voting days are over. I can't take a chance messing up," he explained
"You mean with the machine?"
"No, by voting for a Republican" he corrected me.
With that, I knew he meant it.
So, I decided to change the subject--I told him what I was making for dinner.
He seemed to be happy with the menu.
And, just as I was heading to the kitchen, he called me back.
"You know, I feel bad not voting," he said, his voice tinged with sadness.
"I know Dad, I feel bad about it too."
He sat for a few moments, lost in thought.
Then, he said--"I think I might just have another Klondike today. Even though I already had one."
For the record--my sister (who he lives with) has a rule that he is only allowed one Klondike a day. She gets very upset when we go against the rule. And, she gets very upset with him when he tries to manipulate us to give him more than one.
"I think I can do that," I told him.
"And, we won't tell anyone," he whispered very seriously.
"It's our secret ballot, Dad" I teased him.
"It's hard knowing I will never vote again," he softly said, shaking his head, turning his eyes towards the TV set that was giving election returns.

He got 2 more Klondikes.
The Democrats weren't doing too good.
I thought he needed an extra one.


Amester said...

What a beautiful blog about your Daddy!! I just loved it! It made me smile and tear up all at the same time. I love my Daddy too. I have taken to recording my conversations with him, sometimes secretly on the phone and sometime over tea at the dining room table. My son does it too with him. I thoroughly recommend it as a way to make sure that I never have to miss his stories or complaints or just his voice if ever a day comes when I can't....
Thanks again!

Libby said...

What a lovely story about your dad. Mine passed 11 years ago after suffering from pancreatic cancer. I too spent weekends with him while he was sick. I still miss him. So glad you are able to be with your father and you will always have your memories of the time you spent when he is no longer here.

I wish he had voted though ;-)

Robin said...

What a beautiful story.

Tina said...

Give your dad a klondike for me :)..I wish we had one in our house too.

I guess your dad's situation is a good argument for the mail in ballot we have here-he could have, with your help, insured that no Republicans were voted for.

I loved the story!


Eileen, Founder, Organizer, Mayor and Chief Cook And Bottle Washer of the Anger Management Girls. said...

What a beautiful story Judi! You are so lucky to have that time with him.
Next time, get him an absentee ballot and you can fill it out together.

I worked the polls with my mother for years. I used to love looking up her record in the books during slow times. It really tells the story of her life. In all her years I don't think she ever missed a vote.
That is a great thing to instill in your kids.
My kids were texting me last night with election results. I was so proud that they were paying attention.