My mother has had a difficult life.
She grew up in Nurnberg, Germany. Although she wasn't horribly doomed like most of the Jewish population in Nurnberg, she remembers many air raid drills and food shortages. Although she was a top student in elementary school and loved to study, she was placed on the technical/blue collar high school track because the teachers told her parents that she was too skinny and that the stress of an academic high school would be too much.
As an adult, she had alopecia areata and lost a lot of hair. Fortunately, it grew back spontaneously and permanently.
She had several miscarriages between me and my sister. One or two of the boys were so late that they would probably have lived if they had been born in the past decade or two. She also had an ectopic pregnancy.
When I was a teenager, she had difficulty walking and finally couldn't walk. Eventually, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She probably had suffered silently for years with attacks of dizziness and numbness. She fell in the kitchen and had a double hip replacement in her fifties. She began to noticed hearing loss in one ear while in her late fifties. She thought it was the MS and ignored it. In her sixties, when enrolling in an MS trial, an MRI revealed an acoustic neuroma of that ear. The tumor had wrapped around the nerve and also wrapped around her swallowing nerves and facial nerve. After removal she is deaf on that side and has a face that is paralyzed on the left. She also coughs if she talks for any amount of time and when she eats. I worry about aspiration pneumonia..
Since the surgery for the neuroma, she has almost died from meningitis....twice. The hole in the base of her skull lets bacteria in. She is now on seizure medication.
Currently she is in a wheel chair. She can barely feed herself and gets tired sitting up. She recently broke her leg and refused 911 when they came. A week later the fracture was diagnosed along with a cellulitis of her leg that required another week in the hospital before surgery on the fracture.
Why am I telling you all of this??
All of her life, my mother has been a religious woman. She says that she saw god in the ambulance with her ectopic pregnancy and "he' said it would be ok.
She likes traditional people and classical music only.
Yet, I think she is warm hearted and open minded. She cares about the poor and dispossessed. She usually votes by absentee ballot (she never misses an election.) Unfortunately, she watches Fox news and tends to vote the same way as my GOP father.
This past weekend she called me with big news.
She realizes that Obama is the better man. She realizes that he is more honest and has more true conviction. Also, she really likes Michelle Obama. Finally, it is dawning on her that the past eight years have not been great for our country.
It's weird that I feel closer to my mother now. I think I actually distanced myself from her because her physical suffering has been too painful. I visit, but not enough. I call, but not enough. I use our political and cultural differences (she grew up before the sixties in Germany. I grew up outside of NYC in the seventies and eighties.) She is the same person. Now her vote will match her values and I cannot tell myself that she is so different anymore.
She is my mom, after all.