Yesterday morning I was at the cemetery on a damp New England fall day, leading funeral services for Ann. She was 84 years old, a progressive Democrat to the core, who kept taking on new fights because there was so much need to do so. She went into the hospital concerned that she might miss the thank-you dinner for Congressman Barney Frank she'd sold so many tickets to. Sadly, she never came out.
Ann wanted a very simple service. She didn't like to be fussed over....a few words at the graveyard, friends singing a verse or two of her favorite hymn, and it was done.
When I invited folks to share a memory about her, some (the Republicans) remembered how she'd sit down, took at them with an expectant look on her face, and crook her finger at them. "You. I want to have a little talk with you." And they went, and sat, and listened to what they'd done she didn't like, and WHY she didn't like it. She had good reasons and good arguments. But they adored the mischievous twinkle in her eye and her smile and her fairness.
One man told a story during the service that I keep going back to. When he was a teen, he loved to work at the little seafood "shack" they owned on the beach, because Ann was always a great teacher and listener. She was gruff, but tender-hearted. And no fool.
Story continued beyond the orange tangle.....
He said "One day Ann embarrassed me--but I'm still learning from that day. I was helping behind the counter when some tourists came in and ordered bowls of chowder. We had BIG bowls of chowder, and it was one of our specials. The group found a table, and dug in. After they'd finished, they came over to Ann and complained."
"That chowder didn't taste good!" they said.
She looked over to their table, and the empty bowls there.
"It must not have been too bad, because you ate every last bite of it. There's nothing left in the bowls."
"Yeah, but it didn't taste right. We want our money back."
Ann just looked at them quietly. "Oh, I can't do that." And she simply turned her back and left them standing there.
Ann didn't waste her time arguing with fools. Or with people who wanted to push others around and take advantage of their labor and good.
The Republican party today is like those would-be freeloaders. They took the advantages of living in a first world country, but want us to pay for what they consumed. They pay less than work is worth, with no benefits, until they see a way to get it for free. They they claim our work was worthless.
America must not have been too bad for them, because they "ate it all up." They took advantage of an educated workforce and public roads. They didn't have to pay for their own fire department at their business. They didn't have to set up their own army for security against the rest of the world. And now they claim it wasn't good, and they shouldn't have to pay for it. They consumed it, but the rest of us should cover the cost and just keep it coming.
I hope Ann mailed an absentee ballot for Obama before she died. I'll be casting my vote for him again, and will be thinking of her. And when others ask if I'll vote for Romney?
"Oh, I can't do that."
Sun Oct 21, 2012 at 12:35 PM PT: Just had to add an update. At church this morning, there were two altar vases in honor of Ann. One was from the town's Democratic Committee.
I've got a new goal in life...to live my life with enough dedication to good causes that my local Democratic party sends flowers to my funeral too!