It has been awhile since I have written on here. This is why:
I grew a person in my body and she is now 7 months old. She smiles readily and has long dark hair. She is a most welcome presence in our lives, stunning to behold.
Eagerly, I return to writing. Let’s start with today, shall we?
If you look into her eyes they are pools ocean blue and watery, and if you ask of her late husband they are just watery. Her hands are crooked with years of hard labor, flattened like dough under a rolling pin. At 97 years old, she is using a walker but moves still–slowing little after the hip was replaced. She is one of the last of her generation, doubtlessly more isolated as time passes. She knows how to pass it well, and spends a lot of time staring and asking, observing and waiting. She still insists you eat every time you are in her company, whether you are hungry or not, and manages to unfold entire meals in just moments. She doesn’t expect much, only yearning for the occasional visit.
I recall watching her and my grandma as they slung food and Polish words around the kitchen in equal parts. They fed the herds of farm men food as the men fed the herds of cows hay bales and grain. They chatted as they made meals, kissed owies, criticized the new priest, assigned chores to us kids, planned the next get-together and doled out playful but relentless sister-like banter. If one were to add up all those heaps and piles of meals put out by dirt-worn hands, it would be more than enough to last the entire county a lifetime. It would be enough to feed the living poor in an urban area. It would certainly amount to more than all of Donald Trump’s properties.
Our president-elect takes office today. The myriad of people that compose the identity of our country has likewise a spectrum of emotions and questions in the remarkable time we are entering. We are all trying to cope with each other’s beliefs and biases, hopes, and opinions. In the process of trying to cope we are as divided as we have ever been, polarizing our national identity and nullifying authentic democracy. As we go forward we are in wonder and uncertainty and waffling hope. Some have more hope than before and some have less. Some feel proud of our system of governing and some have utter despair. Dr.Martin Luther King said it best when he said, “We may have all come on different ships, but we are all in the same boat now.”
In that boat is my Great Aunt, too, absorbing this day into her old, brittle bones. I think about her, sitting on her farm in this cold winter weather, likely listening to the Inauguration through the radio instead of TV. I think of all her lifetime has seen, and all the life she has sustained in that lifetime. I think about her son, who lost his legs in the Vietnam War and then went on to be a successful farmer. He died only recently of a heart attack. There is an enormous gap between the life my aunt has lead and the life Donald Trump has lead. She has kept animals and people and vegetables and herself alive longer than most of us can imagine living. She has seen hardships and laughed in deeper places than most of us will go to. I cannot help but think that it is her, and all those like her, who truly run the world.
Because unlike here, our president-elect will never have to manage life in the ways that she has:
Donald Trump will never pull a vegetable out of the ground.
Donald Trump will never have to figure out how to make two potatoes feed eight people.
Donald Trump will never have to chase cattle that got loosed back into the pen.
Donald Trump will never butcher chickens to have enough to eat.
Donald Trump will never attend a meeting standing up for his rights as a farmer.
Donald Trump will never have to breastfeed children or worry if they are safe in the field.
Donald Trump will never organize the meals for a funeral or a birth, or the church fundraiser.
Donald Trump will never have to wonder if his kids are safe in school.
Donald Trump will never have to fix a piece of machinery, even if it takes all night.
Donald Trump will never have to do the laundry of an entire family and hope that the stains got out.
Donald Trump will never send his son to war and have his son returned to him without legs.
Donald Trump may take office as the President of the United States, but for now, these states aren’t united and the position of office dims in light of those who sustain life. Every day people are nurturing, laboring, growing, sweating, and praying their way into sustaining life. Women are working hard in the fields, their jobs, their homes, their studios, their businesses to sustain what has been given them. It is us, the people, those of whom don’t live in any sort of tower, who keep this cog in motion. We are the ones who are the life force behind sustaining those who come to power. We are the ones who keep no hours, but labor for the good of all. No leader of any political party can squelch that.
Donald Trump is President, so who runs the world?
My Great Aunt, that’s who.
If you are looking for further comfort this day, check out my marvelous writer and friend Tyler’s poetry for a word-salve-to-your-soul: