Nana on the Inauguration

As we get ready for this Inauguration, I am washed in memories of the last three Presidential elections, with my grandchildren as witnesses.

If only I still had a photo of that glorious moment in 2008 when my oldest grandkids, then five and two, were leaping in joy in front of the tv. President Obama had just been declared President. I’m not sure they really understood much, but they were excited because they could tell Mom, Dad and Nana were thrilled.

Then there is the memory of the day after the 2016 election when I asked my three grandkids to come up to my bedroom one at a time before catching the school bus. I was reflecting on huge issues. Who am I? What do I stand for?  Who are we as a country? What does the US stand for?

I wanted to try to make some sense for grandkids Aidan, Kaitlyn, and Ava. I will never forget what I said:

“I know people have differing opinions, but I believe we have elected a person who will be a bad President and that he is not even a good person. But I also believe that our country is stronger than him, and I expect you to be a good person even though you sometimes see bad examples.”

And now my beloved Washington where I lived for two years is festooned in more barb wire than bunting. Congratulations, President Biden and Vice President Harris. We are happy for you and grateful for your knowledge, experience, kindness and caring. We are thrilled at this moment in history for women. We need you so much.

We are also exhausted. For example, I marched twice in Olympia, Washington as a Peacekeeper, spent two years writing my book for girls, and have been part of the planning team for PDX Womxn’s March in Portland, Oregon for another two years. Before this, I had a pretty great retirement life, just traveling, volunteering, writing, and spending time with family. But like women all over the world, marching for what is right, marching against what is wrong, became paramount.

And things have been so much worse than I even imagined that sad morning post- election. We have such difficult work ahead of us. I keep literally seeing words and ideas all smashed together overtaking one another. I present my sense of this at the end of this blog in the “concrete poem” Hope. Like what you see below, in a concrete poem, part of the meaning lies in the visual presentation. In this case, at this moment, the visual is of a nearly overwhelming set of intertwined challenges and competing views, offering alternately dread and possibility.

Working through these overlapping issues after the Inauguration will be our work as adults all over the country. And if this is daunting for us, how confusing it must be for our children, for my three grandkids, now 12, 14, and 17. They are staying in, wearing masks the few times they go out, distance learning day after day, watching the news.

I finished my poem in hope. We can help our children feel more hopeful too with some simple messages. These are mine. I would love to know yours…

“I love you. You are safe. We are all going through hard times. It has not been normal. It’s going to get better. Our country has been through other hard times. We are all learning more about responsibility and justice. You can help. Find your own voice. I am so proud of you. I love you.”

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