Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Timing We Can Believe In


They say life is about timing. Today, I (Ed) got another example of that and got to have a cool experience with my dear aunt, lovingly referred to in these pages as Tia Nanny.
As Jen noted in the previous post, my parents and aunt showed up to visit this week for a quick trip that was practically last-minute. And while I was checking my e-mail before going to bed on Monday night, I got a note that said Sen. Barack Obama would be holding a campaign rally here in Northern Virginia on Wednesday. It took approximately 0.00000003 seconds to figure out how I could juggle my work and take my aunt to see Obama speak in person. The fact that they just happened to be in town when this was announced only added to my urgency to make it work.

A little background: as we've noted on this blog, my aunt is in the tank for Barack Obama. A strong-willed woman, it's safe to say she's the liberal lion of the family. And to her credit, she's been on the Obama bandwagon from the start. My parents were big Hillary fans (my father, in fact, still wonders why Obama didn't pick Hillary for his running mate), so we were a Democratic family divided for a long time. Me and Jen voted Obama in the Virginia primary, and my parents gave me a ton of grief afterward. It really wasn't till Obama gave his acceptance speech at the convention that my parents finally came around.
Anyway, today I cleared my afternoon, worked from home in the morning and then me and my aunt made our way to Ida Lee Park in Leesburg. It was in the car that I told her where we were going. "Excited" doesn't do her reaction justice. She probably could've glided to Leesburg on her own. My aunt, 67 years old, babbled like a giddy teenager the entire trip.
The drive up to Ida Lee Park was quite an experience. Traffic was a nightmare (There was a lone two-lane road to get there, so the last mile took an hour. Really.), but being stuck in traffic allowed for plenty of time to talk and people watch.

And what a cross-section! Young, old, professionals, blue-collars, veterans, with several ethnicities and cultures represented. It made you fully appreciate the scope of Obama's candidacy. This went beyond him being "the black candidate" or "the liberal candidate" or (gasp!) "the socialist," as the McCain supporters at the park entrance kept calling him. This was about people being genuinely excited about the possibilities that lay ahead for our country, about actually feeling optimistic about something in politics.

As they say in "The Shawshank Redemption," hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things.
(And yes, of course it helps to have someone who's charismatic and has a fascinating personal story. I'm sure Dems were not THIS excited about John Kerry, who had the personality of a turnip.)

But on a more personal level, it was great to have this moment and this time with my aunt, who clearly enjoyed herself, whether it was cheering for Obama or sassing McCain supporters. She's been in fragile health of late, so any chance I get to spend quality time with her is a bonus.
We left a little early to beat the traffic but it did not lessen our enjoyment. In a quiet moment while dodging more pedestrians (they were still walking up to the park as we left) I gave a quick prayer of thanks that we got to do this. The impact she's had on my life is too long to chronicle here, but it's profound. Taking her to this rally was a form of thanks that doesn't even begin to cover it, believe me.

And the other thing that made this a cool experience for me was that I know that the guy who gave the speech would've understood. After all, what did Obama do after leaving Leesburg? He suspended his campaign and flew to Hawaii to be with his ailing grandmother, who he's cited in speeches and interviews as someone who's had a profound impact on his life.

1 comment:

Chloe said...

Ed, that's really really cool. I'd love to have an experience like that with Obama.

Hope IS a good thing...