Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My favorite name dropper

I got so tickled at my mother-in-law yesterday. She is a political person if there ever was one and has been involved in political campaigns as both paid staffer and volunteer ever since my husband and his brother were little. Some of my husband's earliest memories involve the offices of governors and legislators. With basically much of her adult life dedicated to seeing Democrats elected, one would think that people who hold office are no big deal to her. She's been with them when they're tired from campaigning day, kicked back, ties undone, shoes off, that sort of thing.

Still...she had spent the day going from one rally to another. A senatorial candidate held her arm as they went into each group. He remembered her holding his hand when he was a little boy, and they were campaigning for his father. At one point, her group was sitting on the floor of a school gymnasium. That was when it hit her. She's a small town woman who grew up in a four room farm house that her father built. She could still recall with pride days from her youth when she had personally picked over 100 pounds of cotton in one day for literally pennies a pound, and here, a United States congressman was helping her to her feet. He was grateful for her being there and lending her presence and her voice to their mutual cause, and she was just that girl from the cotton fields again.

The thing is that she really is that girl. She's very much a small town woman with a southern accent so deep it amuses her own accented children and grandchildren. She'll prepare a casserole for a country church homecoming and know everyone there as well as their cousins and kids, even though she's gone to the "town"church for decades. She also knows who to talk to, what to say and how to say it to get a road built to pave the way for a new factory to come to town. She'd never discuss the theory of how the political is personal and vice versa. She just works politically because she knows on the level of blistered hands and an empty belly that it's true. So when she gets political stars in her eyes, I do get quietly amused. It can be annoying at times, but she's earned it, and I will let her enjoy it.

I'm older now than she was when I met her for the first time -- at a political rally. I was so grateful that she was a liberal. Meeting her was intimidating enough without political differences between us. She and her two lifelong best friends were sitting on the front row, and I can still see them all lean forward and turn their heads to look at the girl her son had brought home from college -- the first and eventually only one he ever did. I haven't accomplished anywhere near as much as she had by this age, and I had the benefit of a college education and a comfortable, middle class upbringing. I often feel like a failure. I get frustrated with myself that I'm basically still scrabbling to just get by. I don't know important or influential people, and I doubt if I ever will. When I get tired though and feel like giving up, I look at her and am reminded what hard work can do and how far drive, a decent brain and a decent heart will carry a person even in a small town in the middle of the country. I can sing the mother-in-law blues with the best of them and have just as many good reasons to do so, but she's a good old girl, and I'm glad I know her.

3 Comments:

Blogger Lisa :-] said...

She sounds like such a neat lady. I really have to get to know more of the politically active types here in my neck of the woods.

November 02, 2006 3:33 AM  
Blogger Gannet Girl said...

Drive, a decent brain -- and heart. I've reached the point where I think the heart for the work is the deciding factor in anything.

November 02, 2006 6:31 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

What a credit to you that MIL wants to be with you even under the strain of current circumstances.

November 02, 2006 9:20 PM  

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