I voted early.
Typically, I wait for the actual polling date. But this time, I wanted to be sure I got mine in. So first thing, yesterday morning, October 30, I went.
I always feel a certain amount of gratitude when I approach the building where the voting is held.
For some odd reason, I always think of my grandmother. On my Mom’s side. Her name was Regina Freda Wourms. Born in 1897. She was the 11th child of 13. Regina. I always wonder if anyone, ever, called her “Reggie”. I mostly doubt it.
In my lifetime, I feel like I have had several different lives. There are ways that I use to be. Athlete. Chemistry-Hopeful. Smoker. Bartender. IT Geek. On and on. Ways that I no longer am today.
I wonder if this is true of my grandmother. This Regina. The Grandma I knew was quiet. And sad. Timid. Truly, I can only remember her speaking once during my childhood. I was in my bedroom on Bruce Avenue.
It wasn’t a large room, but I shared it with two of my sisters. One bright chilly day, I was sitting on the floor in that yellow room, with an array of broken white chalk spread out before me. I can mostly remember it feeling “sunny” inside that room. But there I sat on the hardwood floor. I was drawing pictures on the side of my wooden dresser with that chalk, making a crumbly mess below. Grandma must have been “babysitting” us, and discovered my artistic gifts in process. Regina promptly grabbed my upper arm and yanked me to my feet. She admonished me, as I blinked and winced at her face. I can’t remember her exact words, but I was terribly scared.
That’s the only time I can remember her speaking. To me or anyone else.
But she wasn’t mean. On the contrary, she seemed mostly pleasant. But extremely sad. And fearful. She didn’t interact with others. Not her husband. Not her daughter. Not me.
I mentioned that she was born in 1897. So for 23 years of her life, women were not allowed to vote. During those early years, many courageous women played an integral part in the suffrage movement. The likes of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone. They endured things like beatings and jail time and hunger strikes. All in hopes of passing the Nineteenth Amendment.
So yes. On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment was certified by U.S. Secretary of State — Bainbridge Colby. And finally, finally, women achieved that long-sought-after right to vote. In this, our United States of America.
We should have had that privilege in 1776. Just like the men. But we were disregarded for 144 years in this country. A big dark mark on our history.
But. Back to 1920. On November 2 of that year, more than 8 million women across the U.S. voted in elections for the first time. I often wonder if Grandma was one of them.
Like her absent nickname “Reggie” — I sort of doubt it.
Nonetheless, there I was yesterday, walking up the steps to the Courthouse on my way to vote. I was giving thanks for all the women who had gone before me. The price they paid, so that I could walk right in, with my heart full of pride for this freedom. This right to vote. And I carried with me, my Grandmother Regina. Because of her, my Mother was in this world. And now, I am in this world.
Coincidentally. Yesterday, was October 30th. Her birthday.
My heart truly swelled as I filled in those ovals. I gave hope, that because of all of this, our world will continue to know equality. And freedom. The many generations before us. The true and good, American way.
“If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”.
― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
“People have the right to call themselves whatever they like. That doesn’t bother me. It’s other people doing the calling that bothers me.”
― Octavia E. Butler
“Human beings are human beings, just treat everyone like that.”
― H. Williams