Last night Barak Obama's simple presence at the Democratic Convention moved me. There is something very unique about him. While I didn't lose my eyelashes in a river of tears over his speech or his image, I was teary eyed and a bit choked up. Barak Obama is a good looking man and a solid and eloquent speaker. His family depicts middle America - their appearance last night might have been painted by that good ol' American painter, Norman Rockwell as they walked across the stage, hand in hand. The picture in my mind took me back to my childhood, the Kennedy years.
Remembering when Robert Kennedy was President of the United States was easy for me. His daughter Caroline was my age, in fact we were born on the very same day of the same year. Her brother Robert, I believe was the same age as my own brother, we'd had a connection then and a few other times later in my adult life. When President Kennedy was shot, I remember seeing it on television, over and over again. I stayed with my grandmother the day of the funeral and watched it with her because there was no school, but my parents still had to go to work. I think every person in America watched it that day. I still remember that little boy, in his best little suit saluting his father's coffin. I still get choked up about it. This was the same feeling I was experiencing watching Barak Obama.
With the nation's thoughts so transfigured upon the words of that famous speech; hearing it in their minds - his bellowing voice "I have a dream...." Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream and it was about to truly be proven fulfilled before all of America. The anniversary date of the original speech and the momentous historical political events contained within this election; was a very emotional experience for me. I let my imagination take me to a place that has been stored away in my, "memory warehouse" for some time now. As I watched the Obama family at the end of the show, almost eleven p.m. that night, the uncanny resemblance of the Kennedy family in the White House as all Americans saw it - the television sets only in black and white - the parallel unmistakable.
Those two precious little girls with their very beautiful tall and stylish mother so similar to the stately elegance of Jackie Onassis Kennedy with her two young children. The first Catholic President, so young, so good looking I only saw him in black and white as he died before we had a color television in our house. This only accentuated the obvious. Possibly the first President of Color... Obama now placing all prejudice aside, still remains "black and white" in the tortured minds of some Americans . I have prayed for Barak's safety since those beginning days of the earliest whisperings that he may be considered to be the Democratic Nomination for President of the United States of America. I just hope that such a wonderful human being doesn't meet an untimely end because of hate, prejudice and intolerance.
I live in Dayton, Ohio. I have often referred to this unfortunate city as, "the Armpit of the United States of America." I really don't like it here, not one bit. I never have since moving here almost fifteen years ago. Dayton, Ohio has been a dying city for sometime now, but my dreams have nothing to do with the death of this once thriving city. It's hot and humid here and nothing - well almost nothing - ever happens here. A few years ago there were some Peace Talks, but besides that and what happened today - nothing every happens here. It's a stagnant, perspiring community - mostly democrats and disgruntled republicans who once worked loyally for General Motors.
What made today so special in Dayton, Ohio? It's a surprise to me, believe me, because just as I was losing hope in the fact that I seriously could not vote for my republican candidate because I believe whole-heartedly that his time to be President might have only been possible if he hadn't been exposed to such trauma in his lifetime. Being diagnosed with PTSD, I often see in John McCain, through many aspects of his personality, traits, etc. the vague symptoms of the disorder within his mind as well. It explains many things to me that only someone with PTSD would understand. I've been having a struggle with my conscience over this.
That sounds like a "cop out," but today, Mr. John McCain surprised me into a smile when he announced in Dayton, Ohio at Wright State University's Nutter Center that the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin would be his running mate. Honestly! i was on my way to have a stress test and I was listening to the news on the radio. There had been a huge traffic accident and the worst case scenario had occurred. Someone had run out of gas in the middle lane of Route 35 which takes you to the, "Nutter Center." Not only did that person run out of gas, but his friend got out of the car and proceeded to push the car out of traffic. It wasn't the right decision for today. Someone hit the man. There was one of those chain reaction pile ups because everyones mind was on one thing; John McCain is at the Nutter Center today.
My first stress test - I had to have the "chemical type" of stress test because I have a bad leg. I'd never make it on the treadmill. So as I listened and smiled and winced as I thought of the nightmare of traffic in our lovely city today and the pain and critical condition of that poor friend who had made an unwise decision in pushing his friend's car in such busy traffic, I had this feeling that something was going to happen. I kept feeling it. Almost a twinge, but not that pins and needles feeling, that something big was going to happen and I was right. John McCain did announce his running mate and it was a woman. I heard this news via the radio as I ran home to eat something after they had made me feel horrible with their chemical injection. I was tempted to not go back after that injury.
Wow! I instantly wondered who she was. I didn't know who Sarah Palin was, but when I continued to listen to the radio on the way back to the torture chamber I subscribe to, my questions were answered and once again, I was surprised. It takes quite a bit to surprise me. I wondered whose Idea it was to go after those Hillary votes that are still up in the air, that might be wasted if someone wanted to prove a point and write her name on a ballot anyway. It couldn't have been John McCain's idea. He must have a decent "think tank," I thought to myself.
After ending all the excitement in my day pertaining to the stress test, I ran to the computer and began searching as I'm sure most of the United States population did to see what the lady was made of. Taking with me, the certificate of radiation that the technician assured me would keep me safe from experiencing a cavity search should I be traveling over the holiday weekend, in case I needed to take notes. I sat down at my desk and focused. It was true, this Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin was much like myself a mother of five. She had a newborn baby in her mid-forties as I had my last child in my late 30's. That was it as far as similarities between the two of us, albeit we are both Republicans; but my little voice inside kept repeating over and over... she's a mom! The candidate for Vice President of the United States of America is a young mom... it just wouldn't register.
The more I read about her, the more I began to wonder if she was thinking the same thing that I was beginning to think... "Now who is thinking about that Martin Luther King, Jr. speech?" The "she" I was thinking about was Governor Sarah Palin. For some reason I just wanted to read that speech, it in its entirety. I got into the Google again, but something else came up. I found myself on the Today Show's website where there was a photograph of a woman who was 102 years old who had become a teacher because that was her dream. This woman, Della, had wanted to be a teacher and finally found her dream. She tells of her account of hearing Martin Luther King, Jr. when he gave that famous speech. It was a very inspiring and heartfelt story.
Suddenly it was evening in Dayton, Ohio and this particular Friday evening, I found myself home alone with my writing. As the winds seemed to begin to flow more evenly from the northeast, a gust of wind found itself pushing into my bedroom. I love it when that happens. I can almost imagine living somewhere else, close to the ocean or Lake Michigan, or any large body of water that offers those wonderful refreshing gusts on a regular basis. As soon as I recognized that I had felt for the moment, slightly refreshed, almost peaceful at the end of a very hectic day I realized that not only could it have been Sarah Palin's dream, or the dream of a centenarian or Barak Obama's dream that has been coming to life in the month of August, 2008 - but it was also mine.
How could any American in the month of August, 2008 doubt under any circumstances that he winds blowing in from any direction have brought about so much change and the fruition of so many dreams? My own dream fifteen years ago was to live in safety after years of living in domestic violence. I was nine months pregnant and two days away from my due date to deliver the day I stepped off the Greyhound Bus that had carried me and my two year old son to Dayton, Ohio. Daring to dream in the throes of domestic violence is what kept me alive. Domestic violence had chased down my family members for generations and my dream included stopping that violence in my own generation. I have five children and I refused to hand this horror down to any of them.
Two days after arriving in Dayton, Ohio I took the city bus to the nearest hospital. I was due to have my baby that day. I held the tiny hand of my two year old son and in my other hand, my medical records of my high-risk pregnancy. I arrived at the clinic and asked to see a doctor. They let me in because the law on the wall printed in gold letters said, "No one can be refused treatment here." The doctor and his staff weren't happy with me. The doctor refused to touch me. No one around me would take any responsibility in birthing a baby with whom they hadn't been the physician of record. Not one soul cared about my story. I began crying. My son began crying. After about an hour, my labor began. I was in active labor, living in a domestic violence shelter in a city where I knew not a single soul.
My daughter was born after midnight though. I had felt the urge to push around 10:00 p.m. that night, June 20th. The shelter was eager to get me out of there and into a cab to the hospital so I went, finally. I had been in active labor all day long and this was my fifth child. I so desperately needed to push. The taxi driver sped the five blocks to the hospital. He hurried to open my door and get me a wheel chair. I heard his sigh... as he saw me leave with an attendant. About thirty minutes later I was sitting right in the same spot. The doctor on call had told me I wasn't ready to deliver yet. She sent me back to the shelter. She didn't want to take responsibility and I guess no one else did either. They called me a cab and it was the same driver.
Long story short, I gave birth on the first day of summer. Six pounds and eight ounces, a daughter, it was a miracle I hadn't given birth in the cab. I had finally gotten to my room to have the baby, my water broke as I walked over to the bed. I was crying because I only owned this one outfit. Now I knew I"d have to wear it back to the shelter with dried aminiotic fluid on it. I was ready to deliver, but I couldn't stop crying. I didn't feel like pushing. I was defeated, demeaned and just plain spent. There had been no joy in my pregnancy or even my delivery of this precious child. I needed someone to be with me and I had no one. I had a dream to be safe though. She was safe, my son was safe, and now I was safe as well.
What's more, Sarah Palin, a mother of five, just like me was now being asked to run for Vice President of the United States of America. We all have dreams, but when do we find our dreams and live them? Do we do what we MUST do to make the dream come alive? I had to restart my life and I still have so many dreams. I keep hoping and trying to make them happen. My daughter is now fourteen years old. She has some dreams, too. She wants to be a good mother and be married to a man who is worthy of being her husband. My second oldest daughter just made me a grandmother for the second time. Her dreams of normalcy and living without violence in her life, fulfilled.
I don't want to be the Vice President of the United States of America, but I'm astutely aware that if I did, I would make it happen somehow. I now have the strength and the confidence that I have been looking for my entire life. I'm so happy for Sarah Palin and Della and Barak Obama and everyone who has a dream. That's what was special about this day in Dayton, Ohio. I realized that I can be whatever I dream. Isn't that what American was originally about? I have the freedom to be who I want to be and I'm so grateful.