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A lesson about voting from Auntie Irene…

Post by:  Darra Wray, Founder – My Care Companions

As we come upon voting day, I am reminded that voting is an act that truly defines us independent adults.

I remember well the first time I voted.  While I still lived with my parents and was not yet old enough to drink, it was a defining moment in my life to have my proud, 18 year-old voice counted in the 1988 Presidential election.  More than 25 years later, I was reminded just how fundamental the act of voting can be to a person’s sense of independence and contribution to the world.

In November of 2014 as my husband and I walked to our fire station polling location down the street from our house, a large Oldsmobile sedan passed us and pulled into the handicapped parking spot in front of the polling place.  We observed a grey-haired woman park and get out of the car.  We expected her to walk to the door and were surprised when she walked around the car, took out a walker from the back seat, and opened the passenger door to assist another very-elderly woman out of the car.

As we got closer, we recognized these two women as my husband’s 102 year-old Great Aunt, Irene, and her daughter, Sharon.  As soon as we recognized them, we rushed to assist them into the fire station.  I remember how surprised I was to see Aunt Irene out and about, and I remarked as we walked in to the fire station at how much easier it might have been for her to have had an absentee ballot.  In response to this comment, Aunt Irene stopped walking, looked up, smiled at me, and said, “I was nine years old when women got the vote in this country.  I remember the day my mother was able to vote for the first time, and for years I looked forward to the day I could cast my own ballot.  Since the day I first voted, I have not missed a single election, and I don’t intend to start missing them now.  This is my duty to my country.”  Aunt Irene’s words were overheard by the people in line, and the sea of people literally parted to clear the way for Auntie Irene to make her way to the front of the line and allow her voice to be heard.

As we were helping them back to their car, Cousin Sharon mentioned that it had taken several hours to prepare for their voting outing and that it was the only activity on their agenda for the day.  But, she thoughtfully added, that the three most important things to her mother were God, Family, and Country.  As Auntie Irene’s daughter and caregiver, Sharon was committed to do everything she could to help her continue to do the things that were most important to her – go to church, spend time with her family, and get to the polls!  It was then that I truly realized just how important the act of voting can be to a person’s sense of independence and personal contribution to our society.

So, if you have a family member, friend, or neighbor who might need some help getting to the polls on Tuesday, please offer to help them get there so their voice can be heard.  And, on the way to the polls, ask them to tell you about their first voting experience.  You never know what fascinating history they may have to share with you!

 

In loving memory…

Aunt Irene DePartee

November 14, 1911 – January 30, 2015

 

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