When my mother went into skilled nursing care with Alzheimer’s dementia, my grouchy alter-ego Walhydra crawled under the bed, saying, “How can I writing sarcastic humor when real life is shutting me down with grief and depression? It isn’t funny!” Mom died in January 2011.
This post is the next to last one from my blog Walhydra’s Porch. It was written after a certain national catastrophe that may still have consequences a generation from now.
The last time we heard from Walhydra was in 2014, when she was grousing about bullies (“Nation of scofflaws: or, Teacher’s petitude redux“):
She remembers growing up in a June-and-Ward-Cleaver America. Young people were taught to respect their elders, and it was just assumed that people would watch out for each other and practice common civility, rules of the road, etc….
It was simply a social contract, a courteous way of dealing with people in public to ease daily life. Now it seems like people scoff at or totally ignore the contract. Or deliberately violate it. Or…maybe…were never even told about or expected to obey it as kids.
Now, poking her head out from amidst the fuzzy balls of “extra cat,” Walhydra is confounded to find that the nation has actually elected a bully to be president!
“Goddess almighty! If we’re gonna go this route, you might as well toss me in the oven now and save me years of worry.
“You can keep the gingerbread.”
She looks around in annoyance.
“And don’t tell me it’s all their fault. We’ve known working class white men—working class everybody—have been falling off the life raft ever since Grandpa Raygun started his screw-the-commoners revolution.”
She blows a puff of air toward her nose to remove another bit of fur.
“All the while that we liberals have been ranting about ‘diversity’ and ‘identity politics,’ we’ve forgotten that defending the working class was the whole point of FDR’s party.
“When the fearful folks on the right started digging in their heels about blacks and gays and women and immigrants, we tossed them out as heretics instead of addressing their real issues.
“If we want to take back the America that they think they just took back from us (ha ha), we need to take them back. Advocate for them. Ally ourselves with them. Occupy Wall Street was about them as much as about us.”
Walhydra recalls the words one of her most favorite women: “When they go low, we go high.”
“That doesn’t mean we leave them behind. It means we try to lift them along with us.
“Oy. Such a bunch of human beings we people are!
“Now is when the scary fun starts, because we will have to actually listen to those folks. Not their curses and threats and bigotry. Their despair, their longing.
“Do something for them!”
Walhydra scowls at the audience.
“I’m going back to sleep. See that we do better next time!”
LBJ quote from “What a Real President Was Like,” by Bill Moyers (Washington Post, 11/13/1988)