A few days ago, I was home with my six and nine year old daughters as Hurricane Sandy’s rain poured on our house. We had a leak in our ceiling, right over my bed. I was trying to move it when the bed broke. This wasn’t just any bed, it was my grandmother’s. She received it as a gift from the family she worked for as a domestic when she got married. It took me years to realize that most of my grandparent’s furniture was from that family, because my grandparents came over from Ireland in the 1920’s, dirt poor.
My sister used to help pull me onto that bed when I was little because it was so high. I would take a running start—jump as high as I could—and she’d grab my arms and pull me the rest of the way up. My husband and I moved that bed into our home when I was pregnant. We have ‘snuggled away’ numerous nightmares of our daughters in that bed. And I just broke it.
A few things occurred to me in that moment, when our beloved, comforting bed broke. I felt deeply worried. We have, at last, been given an opportunity at real health-security. The insurance companies denied children with cancer, healthcare because of ‘pre-existing conditions’. The Affordable Care Act guarantees sick children access to health insurance. When insurance companies denied my mother-in-law an insurance policy because she had a “pre-existing” condition, she died a year later. In 2014, the Affordable Care Act protects American citizens and ensures that insurance companies do their job of actually giving health protection to American families. The insurance companies put a limit on what a human life is worth, despite their skyrocketing profits. The Affordable Care Act took away the “lifetime caps” on Americans. If someone has a relapse of cancer or complication with a chronic condition, she can receive health care without having her family lose their homes to health care bills. Denying sick children health care? Denying American families health protection? Deciding who gets to live and who gets to die based on how it effects the bottom line? These are the things that Romney & Ryan are championing. Not my idea of patriotism.
What helps keep me going is not the bed itself, but what it really means to me. My grandparents worked really hard to provide for their daughter, my mother. She in turn, helped provide for her children the ability to go to college – even though she never could. The bed represents the endurance of love, commitment, and hope that my parents and grandparents passed on. My grandparents cuddled their daughter from nightmares, as my husband and I do for our daughters. I could depend on someone to pull me up when I needed it most. I could rely on my sister’s support to do something I had difficulty doing, and yet very much wanted. Now I watch my own daughters help pull each other up, the very same way.
Recently my youngest, of her own accord, gave me one of the best compliments. She said, “Mommy, I feel safe with you. When I have nightmares you are there for me and I know it will be better.” My eldest saw the shattered look on my face, when the bed broke and said “Momma, you can sleep with me. I always feel better when I’m having a hard time and I sleep with you.”
I realized; that’s it. That’s all there is to it. That’s why I do this election work even though I feel pulled in so many different directions. We want to pass on to our children the love, commitment and hope that our parents and grandparents and great grandparents (my grandmother never saw her mother again once she left….there was no money to visit) had for their family, for us. We want the opportunities to ensure a secure future for our children: the American Dream. In our hardest times, in our most challenging times, we want to know that others are there for us – that we are all in this together.
This is why I work to re-elect President Obama. By his actions, he has demonstrated a deep respect for all Americans to create the American dream. He not only says we are all in this together, he works to protect the legacy of love, commitment and hope that American families carry and pass on to their children.