We Buried My Mother in an Elephant

current events, essay, non-fiction 8 Comments »

I am a recovering Republican. It’s been nearly 12 years. Even before my recovery, I did not vote a straight party ticket, nor did I always vote for the Republican presidential candidate.

My great-grandfather on my mother’s side became a Republican as a very young man and eventually worked his way to becoming a United States Congressman from the state of Pennsylvania.  This is not the Republican party of my great-grandfather…and I dare say it is not even the Republican party of my dear departed mother and it is definitely not the Republican party with once I used to affiliate.

Several years before my mother died, I was at a G.O.P. event with her where John Ashcroft was the keynote speaker (a man my mother knew well, and this was before John Ashcroft was the U.S. Attorney General).  At one point  John Ashcroft said something, that I cannot now even remember, and everyone in the room got on their feet, screamed, whistled and applauded in approval.  I so did NOT agree with what had been said, that I remained seated.  My mother looked at me and asked me to stand up.  I remained in my seat….this was the beginning of the end of my Republican affiliation.  I adored the ground my mother walked on, but the light bulb went on fast and bright, and not even the love and loyalty for my mother was going to keep me with a party that less and less resonated with me.

My mother worked over thirty years for the Republican party, for the most part as a volunteer.  She was very loyal to the G.O.P. even in times when the G.O.P wasn’t loyal to her.  Having grown up with my active G.O.P. mom, I used to be loyal to her political world view.

My mother’s love of the U.S. and it’s democratic process were of the utmost importance to her.  She was a very proud American.

Voting rights for all Americans were very near to my mother’s heart.  I sat at my mother’s elbow hundreds of times in G.O.P. campaign offices which she ran. I listened to her when she spoke to people on the phone during election times.  When speaking to someone who had clearly told her that they were a Democrat and they were voting for the Democrat, she would always say: Thank you for your time and remember, it is important to exercise your right to vote no matter the candidate.  If my mother were still alive and heard the words out of Pennsylvania state House Republican leader Mike Turzai’s mouth about making it harder for Democrats (primarily blacks  & other minorities) to vote, she would have dropped dead. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuOT1bRYdK8).

Respecting and taking care of our military was extremely important to my mother.  She never, ever missed an opportunity to thank any military person she saw anywhere she was.  Often times, her thanks came with tears in her eyes, because she knew of their sacrifices, having been married to two veterans and having a son-in-law Vietnam vet.  When the Republicans last month voted down the veterans’ job bill, my mother would have said something I heard her say more than once in my life, “That is the biggest case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.”  Then she would have dropped dead.  http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2012/09/23/senate-gop-obstructionists-throw-veterans-under-the-bus-vote-down-bill-to-help-vets-in-need-of-jobs/

On overturning Roe v Wade.  My mother, though quiet in this view, did not believe Roe v Wade should be overturned.  She believed that in the case of rape, incest and the life of the mother, abortion should be legal.  My mother knew that I wouldn’t be alive if abortion wasn’t legal in the case of the life of the mother.  She would not want to see Roe v Wade overturned.  Since this hasn’t happened (yet), she would not be dropping dead at the possibility, but she would drop dead if she lived to see this.  Though, I can say with some conviction that Todd Akin’s statement about legitimate rape and shutting “that whole thing down” could have easily caused her to drop dead. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fetFNTgqE6o)

My mother volunteered her time to the elderly, to orphaned children, and any lonely person she ever met.  She gave of herself without complaint throughout her life.  She cared about the poor, the underprivileged and believed that compassion for others was the rule and not the exception….

The turn the Republican party has taken would have horrified my mother~and made her deeply sad.

The news of my mother’s death was announced at the Republican National Convention in 2004 on national television, and it was mentioned how much she would be missed. Barbara Ladesich, would not have recognized her G.O.P. today; she would have missed the party she used to know.

On the primary election day in Missouri, 2004, my siblings and I buried our mother’s ashes in an elephant cookie jar.  Now we are having second thoughts…

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