How's the weather?

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, September 4, 2018 10:16 PM

I spoke with my mother the other night, something I should do more often especially as she regularly informs me that she won’t be around much longer. I know I must do better. 

We talked about the weather, how hot it’s been there in New England (over 100º some recent days). When did talking about the weather become a thing? Is it because we have nothing else to talk about? The weather topic turned somehow to health and the family. One of our family members is currently facing a situation that isn’t grave or life-threatening but scary nonetheless. Because I do so much work in the health industry, I have a rudimentary knowledge of a lot of things and in-depth knowledge of absolutely nothing. Still, it makes for good conversation. My mother said that hearing the word “cancer” is what got her the most upset. I explained that I understood, that I’ve heard it myself twice.

Our conversation then moved onto health insurance and how awful it has become. She’s retired and on a fixed income. She’s also on Medicare, and has supplemental insurance which this past year she changed to UnitedHealthCare. She’s fairly happy with them. I too have a plan through UHC, but it’s more of a cobbled-together-may-help-a-little-in-case-of-emergency plan because we currently live in a red state and republicans don’t believe people should be allowed to have access to good health insurance, something I simply don’t understand. They’ll talk ad nauseum about health insurance provided by employers as if that’s all anyone could ever need so shut up and be quiet about it. Everyone else, those “welfare queens” who need Obamacare? Well, they’re just losers and aren’t entitled. 

The conversation then drifted, naturally, to politics. We haven’t talked politics much in the last nearly two years. I knew she wasn’t happy with what is going on – my mother is a life-long democrat – but her friend Gregg says some good things have happened and we should give credit where credit is due. I suspect she knows that I think that’s bullshit. She also knows how riled up I get when I talk politics. So we have polite conversations about the weather instead. 

She despises the current orange abomination in the White House. She also thinks, at this point, that he will be re-elected in 2020 because the democrats don’t have anyone who can beat him, anyone who’s a rock star. I pointed out that two years prior to 2008, we didn’t really know much about Barack Obama either. She pondered this and agreed. I could almost see her shaking her head ever so slightly, a grudging nod of acknowledgment. 

I told her who I like. She wasn’t impressed. I asked who she liked, she said Barack Obama, and plans to write his name in. This made me smile. I miss that man and his wife and family every day. Miss their humanity and decency and intelligence. Their complete lack of scandal.

We watched him this weekend, eulogizing John McCain. On Saturday morning, we were being lazy, and turned on the television while in bed. The service at the National Cathedral was just starting, and we ended up watching the whole thing. I was never a fan of John McCain and didn’t agree with his politics. But I know he loved his country, that he believed in foreign policy and our country as a force of good in the world. I hated that he was a war monger; I loved that he voted against Obamacare repeal.

Kevin and I supported Obama in 2008, and actively campaigned for him. I remember election night, thinking he would win, worried that there were too many racists in this country who wouldn’t allow it. We were watching MSNBC. The polls had just closed in California. It was 8 pm. Brian Williams, then the anchor of NBC, came on and said: “The polls have just closed out west and we have news.” I wept. I had never been so proud to be an American.

Now, I have never been so mortified. I hope my mother isn’t right. I hope that perhaps this pathetic aberration is temporary and that there are too many of us to let it continue. I worry that democrats will once again not rise to the occasion. 

But then I remember November 2008, and the joy. And I weep again as I dream of a day, hopefully soon, when something brings our country back to normality. A day where we come together, like Saturday and McCain’s service. A day when tears of relief will run freely. A day when I can celebrate. 

Until then, how’s the weather?

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