My mother-in-law called yesterday to chat. Sue will be 90 in about a month, and is blind, deaf and bedridden in a nursing home. I overheard the conversation as my wife struggled to talk with her, having to repeat every sentence. This is unfortunate because Sue is still “with it”. She lives half a continent away where our niece visits her regularly and takes care of the day-to-day chores like washing her clothes.
Because of Sue’s sensory deprivations she misses most of what is going on. She has a T.V. and to protect her roommate from a deafening television we got her hearing aids with Bluetooth capabilities and tuned her hearing aids to her television, but she can’t see the remote and doesn’t seem to want to “fool with all of that.” Consequently, she lives mostly in her head, worrying about things that don’t need to be worried about, or for which there is no solution.
So, during the conversation she found that there had been a Democratic Convention. Lynn told her that the convention was rated, even by conservatives and Republicans as one of the best in modern history. And then Lynn dropped the bomb, “Hillary got the nomination for President.” Sue was so excited. Being an Arkansan she voted for Bill every time he ran; the six times he ran for governor (five times with success), and twice for President.
It may be hard to understand, but people in Arkansas have always referred to the Clinton’s as Bill and Hillary. Those who like them think of them as friends. They have never had any illusions about them. They’ve always known about Bill’s indiscretions. They have had an affection for him in the way you might love your funny, smart uncle who drinks too much.
Sue worked in a factory for years. She isn’t particularly political, but she is staunchly pro-labor and has always voted a progressive ticket. She then wanted to know how she could vote. “I’ve always voted, in every election since I was old enough, and I want to vote this time for Hillary.” There is probably no way, unless she can register and vote in absentia.
In the last election she was still taking care of herself, and got someone to take her to the polls, but she has a new address and can only get out of bed to a wheelchair.
The wheelchair belongs to the nursing home. Personal belongings are very limited and you can’t have your own wheelchair. Somehow, one of the footrests got lost from the one she uses and she has to prop one foot on the other to go to the facility’s beauty shop. About six months ago her right foot fell off the left as the aide turned into the beauty shop and one of her toenails was torn partially off. It is a credit to her determination that she still got her hair done. A few days later the podiatrist came and removed her nail.
So, Sue and Lynn joked about the process of getting her registered, into a wheelchair and then into the polling booth as the aides tore her remaining toenails off.
She was serious though. She really likes Hillary, realizes the historical significance of having a woman nominee, and would like to see another Clinton in the White House. It will be the first election in which she has stayed at home, and she really wants to vote for her friend.