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Maureen J Andrade
I'm a writer and artist from the Pacific Northwest. Progressive and practical, I believe politics should never be a winner-take-all game, but rather a healthy relationship between people and their leadership.
In the 1980’s, when I was a little girl, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. Sitting on the floor of her kitchen, I watched the evening news with her while she cleaned up after dinner. This was when I first heard the name Joe Biden. He was a young senator from Delaware, the news said, and he was an outspoken advocate for the needy. Grandma told me he had a tragic life, having lost his wife and baby girl in a car accident in the 1970’s. Like her, he’d lost so much, yet continued on anyway, caring for those still here.
Last night, while I watched the Vice Presidential Debate between Joe and Rep. Paul Ryan, I couldn’t stop thinking about Grandma and what she’d taught me. Though Congress she regarded with general disdain, she explained there were really good representatives and senators who were in Washington D.C. for the sole purpose of serving us. Joe was one of the latter, she told me; and when his face appeared on the TV screen she’d whoop and say, “There’s Joe…he’s a good boy. He’ll give em hell!”
My family was also Catholic- the social justice kind that spends no time wringing hands over decisions women make with their doctors, but are very concerned about the needy. Joe is our kind of Catholic. He must have gotten the message at mass: be of service to fellow humans.
Last night, at the OFA office in my hometown, which was where my boys and I watched most of the debate, I saw many like-minded seniors. These folks reminded me of my grandma, and made me miss her so much. My eyes stung with tears for a moment when I thought of how much fun she and I would have had together watching that debate. Joe gave Ryan hell….and the younger guy had it coming.
Perhaps it’s no surprise I dreamed of Grandma Joan last night, waking in the early hours feeling sad and uneasy. In the dream, she was not the strong, opinionated woman from my childhood, but the sick and vulnerable person she became later. She wasn’t laughing like a crow, but moaning in pain and confusion. At the end of her life, my grandmother became exactly who Joe has worked for decades to protect: a person in need of great care.
The part of the debate last night that should stick with everyone is the bit about Medicare. Ryan tried to pass legislation that would effectively end it. Joe has fought for forty years to protect it. The difference couldn’t be any clearer.
At the end of the dream I had of my grandma last night, I picked her up and wrapped her in a blanket. I took care of her the way she took care of me. This is what Medicare and Social Security are- the young reciprocating care to elders who once cared for them. It’s a complete circle of compassion.
I will always honor the memory of Grandma Joan, and I continue to work hard doing what she taught me. Joe is of the same ilk. We are that kind of people.