The Story of An American Beauty
Remember just a few months ago how I was lamenting my eldest niece's journey into adulthood, because it effectually meant I was growing old as well? That is still true. She is lovely, tall, strong, opinionated and full of life. I am still growing older. But today, she became one more thing: An American.
No... she has not been an illegal alien residing in this country without a Visa or green card. But, for the first time ever, in her entire life, she embraced democracy with both hands and she VOTED in her first election.
I was a pivotal player in this transition. And I am not afraid to boast because of it.
After I finished crying over the fact that she had turned 18 back in May, I got on the web, and printed a voter registration application for her. I stood over her and watched her fill out the form. I took the signed form, put it in an envelope, and mailed it myself.
She is now eligible for jury duty... but we haven't talked about that yet.
She never received her voter registration card, but called the election commision to confirm that she was indeed registered, and to determine the location of her voting precinct.
We discussed some of the issues on the ballot and we see eye-to-eye on some things, and disagree about others. But that is not the point. The point is, it falls upon her shoulders (as it does billions of other Americans) to bear the responsibility of her vote. Whether we agree or not is moot... even though I really, really, really wanted her to agree and vote the way I do.
Yesterday, she started feeling sick. This does not bode well for election day. I had already voted and reminded her that election day was today.
So, today I came home from work after a tough day (one of those where nothing goes right) and jumped in the shower, threw on my PJs, and got ready to sit down and watch the election coverage. Before my hair had time to dry, Kristin sent me a text message by phone saying that she had not been able to vote, because she had felt so sick. It was 5:45 p.m. The polls closed at 7:00 p.m. I texted her back and told her there was still time.
She was at her grandparents with her mother, but did not have a car. I was sending her the text message that read: "If you want to go vote, I will take you"; while she was sending me one that read: "Can you come get me and take me?" I put real clothes back on, and at 6:00 p.m. I was heading to pick her up.
We arrived at the polling location to find we had to park on the street and stand, in the rain, in the cold in the parking lot of the Volunteer Fire Department. And we proceeded to stand there for the next hour and a half. We met up with a lady who used to teach Kristin's small group Bible study, and chatted away with her, while sharing an umbrella with each other.
We got in the building, and not too long after that, Kristin was presenting her driver's license and signing her name on the doted line. I didn't think I could have been more proud of her, until I watched her step up to the voting booth, and begin to concentrate on the ballot before her. I wanted to jump up and down and make a big fool of myself in front of God and everyone still standing in line, but knowing that I would like Kristin to continue the voting practice in years to come, I decided to remain calm, cool and collected.
She emerged with a smile on her face, and I was honored to have shared the moment with her.
We went back to my place to watch the first results roll in. She had great questions to ask, and I tried to give her the answers. It was our first election together. I wonder if she'll let this become a tradition? The senatorial race in Tennessee is a very tight one. She left my house thinking that her candidate may have lost, but truly, the race is still too close to call... and we may not know the outcome until tomorrow... if then.
Did she and I cancel each other's vote? Possibly. That isn't the point either. She saw the responsibility set before her as an American citizen and she seized the responsibility with both hands. She physically felt ill and yet stood in the cold rain for more than an hour to cast her ballot.
Oh, but that the women of Iraq could do the same without fear of torture and death.
Kristin was born in the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave, and tonight, she took her first steps to fulfilling her American destiny. She is a true American Beauty.