Wednesday, September 02, 2009

You say liberal like it’s a bad thing…


british museum :: london, uk :: sept 8, 2008

My dad was a staunch Republican, a wicked liberal one, but a Republican nonetheless.

Imagine his surprise when his only child began to show her political leanings.

We argued every election year and the conversations always seemed to end with, “I have no idea how the hell I wound up with a bleeding heart, tree hugging, tax and spend MA liberal as a child.” (I grew up in CT and in the early years had no idea what ‘tax and spend’  and ‘Massachusetts’ had to do with being a liberal… I used to hate it when he’d call me that, but now I’ve grown to love it. I’m not ashamed of what I am.)

The funny thing is, I learned to become a liberal from him. My father truly believed that everyone was created equal. He was offended by the idea that “all animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.” (That’s from Orwell’s Animal Farm, but it was a common statement in our house.) He held his prejudices - despite the fact that he was my hero, he was still far from perfect - but he recognized them for what they were and taught me to do the same.

He hated “The Kennedys”, but respected Jack and Teddy’s politics. I would learn that he was jealous of the media image of their lives, of the wealth and privilege they portrayed, but at the same time he fully believed in what they stood for. Teddy Kennedy, no matter how conflicted my father was about him, was highly regarded in our house. Don’t get me wrong, my father would complain about him all the time (mostly in a “damn Democrats” kind of vein), but he also admired him. It’s got to be hard to keep to your ideals and beliefs for so long, especially when you’re in the public eye as a member of the government. My dad respected the hell out of him for that.

[Tangent: a few years ago, I volunteered for a Greek organization I had joined in college. I roomed with a member of my alumni chapter at a National Convention and every. single. day. we were there he would tell me how amazed he was that I could stick to my guns day after day. (The organization was known for heavy drinking and I’ve never touched a drop in my life. Will never touch a drop in my life.) It’s a shame my dad was long gone by that point. I think it would have tickled him to hear that.]

Needless to say, the news of Teddy’s passing hit me and hit me hard. It blew my mind how hard it hit me.

I mean, I don’t have a Teddy story. I never met the man. But he touched my life. Big time.

I *do* have a Teddy connection. One that means a lot to me.

As a bipolar person, I’m protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. While I keep the bipolar mostly under control with medication, there are definitely days when I don’t feel like I can exist in the ‘real world’. Between the crippling depression and the destructive mania, there are more than a few days a month when I’m a liability to my employer, my friends, my family and myself. I don’t ever want to take advantage of the opportunities offered to me by the law, but I’m glad it’s there.

I’m going to Washington DC next year. It’s something my dad and I always talked about… I really want to see The Wall for myself so I can fully appreciate what I had (more than I already do…my dad could have been one of those names!) and I HAVE to go to Arlington. I’ve always wanted to go to Arlington, too, but now I NEED to go. I HAVE to say goodbye to Teddy. I couldn’t/wouldn’t go to any of the activities that were held locally, but I will mourn him, my own way, in my own timeframe…

Thank you, Teddy. For everything. You will be missed.

Posted by Matty on 09/02 at 10:41 PM