The Women on my Ballot in 2016


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My wife Teresa a/k/a Pretty in cyberspace was on my ballot…as she left to vote at our precinct early this morning, I thought to myself how fortunate I am to be married to a woman who shares my passion for the political and the underdog and is always an activist for social justice wherever she sees the need. I love you, Pretty.

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My paternal grandmother Betha a/k/a Ma who is sitting next to my grandfather and looking down at her grandchildren in this old picture is on the ballot. Her  wicked sense of humor, her storytelling and her love of family – I wonder what she would have thought about a woman being President of the United States. I’m sure she would have had an opinion and would have voted for her in the early voting for Grimes County, Texas.

Moving left to right, my mother sits just above and behind my grandmother. My little mother who taught elementary school for twenty-five years after getting her college degree when I was twelve years old, my little mother who played the piano in Southern Baptist churches for more than sixty years, my little mother who was the only person in the world who refused to believe her daughter was a lesbian but finally came to love her unconditionally in her last days…she is on the ballot today.

This little girl grew up in the Great Depression as the baby of four children raised by a single mother after her father died when she was nine years old. Her mother, my maternal grandmother Louise a/k/a Dude, is on the ballot today. She isn’t in the picture, but she would have loved the idea of a woman as POTUS. She struggled her entire life by working six days a week in a general store as a clerk – and had to fight off the unwanted sexual harassment of the store owner with no legal recourse in the 1940s and 1950s; only the courage and determination she brought with her every day to work allowed her to maintain her dignity and self-respect in the midst of adversity.

My Aunt Mavis who is sitting next to my mother in my Uncle Ray’s embrace is on the ballot today. In 1969 when she was faced by discrimination as a woman for a promotion in a company she had worked at for many years, she stood up and confronted her employer in Houston, Texas – and lost. She was fired as a result of her stance and really never recovered from the blows she suffered emotionally during that time. She was a working mother of three boys whose second income was important to their family. I admired her for her bravery to take on a fight against all odds and even though she lost, her courage was an inspiration to me. My Aunt Mavis would have rejoiced at the idea of a female POTUS.

Finally, the woman in the middle holding the little girl is my Aunt Lucille, and she is on the ballot today. She would have been thrilled to vote for Hillary and Tim because she was a Yellow Dog Democrat and would have hit the one button for the whole ticket in her Beaumont, Texas precinct, where no doubt she would have been in the minority but she wouldn’t care. This was a woman who kept going in the midst of personal struggles she never shared with her family – a woman who was ahead of her times in her passion for politics, people and cultural relevance. In her almost 93 years, her mind remained sharp, clear and inquisitive. I loved her dearly.

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This is my second mother, Willie, and she is on the ballot today. She was my mother’s best friend for almost 50 years and was a very big part of my life during that time. She worked hard, she played hard, and she raised a large family that includes three daughters Leora, Lorna, and Barbara and a granddaughter Carmen who have become very special to Pretty and me. Willie would have had a great deal to say about a woman running for President of the United States, but I’m sure she would have laughed all the way to the voting booth in Fort Bend County, Texas. I would so love to be able to pick up the phone and talk to Willie today. I miss her more than words can write.

I don’t have a picture of my Aunt Mildred, but she is on the ballot today. She was a mother of five who worked as a secretary/assistant in the local bank in Navasota, Texas and ended up running it for all practical purposes in the 1960s. She was a kind, sweet woman who loved her children and grandchildren – but also thrived at a job which offered her the opportunity to truly make a difference in her community. I believe she would have liked to see a woman on the ballot in today’s election.

These are the women on my ballot today. When I was in the grocery store this afternoon, I saw a number of women with I Voted stickers on. I have no idea who they voted for, but I’d like to think that every woman I know voted for the women in their past as well as the woman on the ballot. Stronger together. Now that’s real power.

 

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is an essayist with humorist tendencies who periodically indulges her desires to write outside her genre by trying to write fiction and poetry. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press is publishing her collection of first-person accounts of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBT organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBT history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published four nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and a group of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike and Charly. Her Texas roots are never too far from her thoughts.
This entry was posted in Personal, politics, Reflections and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Women on my Ballot in 2016

  1. I absolutely love this post, Sheila. You are the woman you are because of these strong, courageous, smart, loving women who have touched your life and who continue to touch your life. And now you are there for countless women who will follow you. I think that’s pretty special. Happy Election Day!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Angela Krebs says:

    Beautiful, your voice is a light on this dark day. Thank you and Pretty and all the other women on your ballot for inspiring me to be that for myself and others today. I hope I can deliver at least half as well as you have.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely post. Arriving late as usual, there seems less to celebrate this morning than expected i.e. nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I wish there was a “love” button for this post. xx

    Liked by 1 person

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