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Alvin C. Romer

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A Senior Moment At the Polls
By Alvin C. Romer   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Posted: Tuesday, November 11, 2008

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A personal encounter with a senior citizen determined to vote for the candidate of her choice.


How many of you already are feeling the excitement of what this election has wrought? You should be proud of the multitude of folk who put aside everything and voted! The goose bumps appear every time I think about the audacity rendered for change.  Change and Hope have somehow become partners in anticipated anxiety. I think about the elderly, the physically challenged and people who may have voted for the very first time. There's stories to tell by all of the aforementioned. Especially from those with hallowed remembrance of yesteryear when Jim Crow ruled, ranted and renounced rights. Then came our senior citizens looking for reprieve and second chances. One such lady shared  her opinionated thoughts with me as I cast my vote. I'll call her Miss Ida.

I spotted her as I ambled toward the long line snaking around the building. Looking at me as if daring me to ask why she was in such a long line, I saw an unmistakable look of determination and thought better of mere casual conversation. I decided to wait until there was a favorable time to engage her in conversation. Miss Ida was one for the numbers! She was decked and dressed to the nines, with a conservative but natty two-piece suit with matching purse and shoes!  She leaned on the cane that defied the weight that gingerly held her up with a distinct aura. She continued to stare which made me uncomfortable to say the least, but out of the corner of my eyes I saw that she was chomping at the bit with something to say.  I decided to oblige her and break the steely ice between us. I asked two questions that morphed into one querying sentence - "Ma'am do you really think Obama will win; and, will white folk vote for him?

She hesitated much more than a pregnant minute, looked up at me with shining eyes, all the while pausing with dramatic effect as if the delay warranted my immediate attention, and said slowly and deliberately, "Son...not only will he win, but they have no choice but to vote for this man! They are 'tween a solid rock and a good hard place now that the Bushes they thought protected them have been exposed!"  She paused to catch her  breath, and ambled on, "Not only that, it's high time that the balancing act comes full circle". I implored as to what did she mean by that, and she was off to the races again. She shifted her weight, sighed and gave me a pitiful look as if admonishing a child for knowing something that should be etched in stone, and asserted, "they owe us, do you hear me? They OWE us! We have taken and nurtured their children, cleaned up after them, sat around passively throughout history and allowed them to define who we should be in their eyes. They have raped us as long as I can remember, stealing our inventions while using calculated divide and conquer techniques to keep us separated and adrift from our rich historical legacy".

At that moment my body longed to get this over with. I needed to vote, but Miss Ida commanded my attention as I began to see her in a different light. This erudite octogenarian-type woman brimming in rich-text format held me rooted to the spot. I imagined her back in the day formidable in her bearing and quite imposing like some of the women I've known, that not only talked a good game, but ruled with authoritarian grit. That was my 'Big Mama', who assisted the village with glee while raising me to uphold standards and think positively. This is all the reason why I felt bad for slipping, and for a moment forgetting all that she stood for by asking Miss Ida, 'do I think Obama could win'. My silence must have unnerved her as she hit me in the shin with her cane and demanded that I give a comment. What could I say to this lady? I knew I had to say something, and it had better be of worth and a gem of an answer. I muttered rather clumsily that, "yes, it'll be a history-making time, alright."  She looked at me askance, not pleased at all with my comment, and voiced more venom against the imbalance of racism during her hey-day.  

"Son, careless whispers have gotten louder and white folk are wringing their hands in dismay knowing that Bush is through. They can't vote for McCain, and now they have to cast a vote for a Black man. I 'spect though, that a lot of them will go to their grave 'fore they vote for one of us."  At that moment she burst out in a raucous laugh so hard almost losing her footing. She jabbed her cane forcefully on the sidewalk and yelled, "Hell no, I ain't voting for no McCain!" By this time a crowd gathered along with those still in line as she looked at me with a jaundiced eye continued, "Yeah, son we done come a long way and they owe us. It's our time, you know. We helped build this country with the forced and unforced labor...they steal our music, claim it for themselves and embrace our culture as if it was their own. I won't even talk about the many contributions we've made to society that our ancestors fought so hard to keep. Louis Latimer and a host of others are turning in their graves with glee knowing the real truth that Elijah McCoy spoke of. Yesiree!! You can bet your bottom dollar and every penny you find that this is one man of color that will defy all the odds, Honey!  Who else they gonna vote for?"

Dismissing me with a smirk and a firm grip on that cane, she gave a parting shot by saying, "Yep, we GOT this, believe that...we're on the threshold of history!"  Watching her walk toward the voting booth I felt the pride and knew that pomp and circumstance had finally given a real meaning to what is at hand and how it will effect us as a race. But there was more on my mind. Will this presidency have reverberating windfalls in areas that we cannot see or even fathom? I worry will they steal the election from us like they did in Florida, and whether we will actually get out and vote en masse? I earlier surveyed the crowd that attended one of the many local rallies, and my immediate perception gave reason that perhaps this time around the last will be first and the first will now bring up the rear. Miss Ida was live, in color and spoke for all senior citizens at the polls, and I respectfully saluted her. WOW!



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