Friday, November 2, 2012

Honk If You Love Democracy!

My mother, Irene, first got involved in politics with the Democratic Primary in 1960.  JFK's vision was too good for her to pass up.  For the rest of her life, she stayed involved.  She campaigned for candidates and was one of the election judges in our local precinct in RD#1 Finleyville, PA.  For my mother, Election Day was the biggest day of the year, after Halloween, of course, but that is another story.

The polling place for our precinct was the basement of the Dowling family's house near the intersection of Gilmore and the Elrama-Finleyville Road.  The poll workers and other neighbors spent days preparing food.  On Election Day, half of the basement was dedicated to voting and the other half was a buffet filled with local delicacies.  My mother's specialty was stuffed cabbage which she made in a 22 quart electric roaster. Pounds of ground beef and rice, onions, several heads of cabbage and the secret ingredient, Campbell's tomato soup.   Yum!  

Our bus stop was 20 yards from the Dowlings.  After school, the kids from our neighborhood filed off of the bus and into a basement filled with the smells of rigatoni, cabbage rolls, baked ham and coffee.  There were almost as many cookie varieties as Mon Valley wedding.  We'd each fill a small plate, stuff our pockets with cookies and take a seat among our neighbors who were there to vote, to eat or just to visit with old friends.  I thought that this was what Election Day was like in every town in America. 

I voted this morning! I never voted early before so I was pretty excited about it.  I love voting!  I always get a little misty when I stand there in the voting booth.  This morning, as I stood in the line among my neighbors at the Silver Spring Civic Center, I did kind of miss the smell of the cabbage rolls.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Now then... Where were we?

FADE IN:  Montage of turning calendar pages and changing seasons.

I am happy to be back and maybe, for a wee indulgent moment, to look back at 2011. 

I lost my dad in March.  He was a force of nature and until the day he died, I don't think I ever believed that he would.  He lived most of his 83 years, on his own terms.  And from all accounts, he died the same way.  He played golf, and won, twice that last week.  Then kind of as an afterthought, he went to the hospital, had a few surgeries and never woke up.  No long lingering illness.  No loss of dignity.  Just gently into that good night. 

A small orphaned part of me hopes that he was greeted at his destination by my mother.  My 1950 Kennywood Memories mother.  Young and gorgeous, they step into the photo booth.  She takes off her cat eye glasses and leans into his strong shoulder.  He pulls her close as they smile for the camera.  Snap.  Rest in Peace.


Many blessings in the New Year to you and all belonging to you.