I think about what a proud democrat he was. I think about how smart and thoughtful he was despite being deprived of a college education because of his family's financial circumstances and because of a higher calling to defend a nation against global tyranny. I think about how he was a proud member of the middle class in Fitchburg, MA; a town now devastated by the war against workers, tax cuts, and education cuts. And I think, of course, about what this election tomorrow night would mean to him.
He was a staunch defender of medicare, social security, public education, civil rights, and yes, food stamps.
I remember his vehement defense of food stamps when one would argue against them and government programs. How he shut down my father one Christmas (my father has since switched parties and has already voted for President Obama tomorrow) when he explained that it was those food stamps that allowed his mother and father to put food on the table during the great depression when work couldn't be found.
I remember that itt was social security that allowed him to retire at a decent age to be able to spend time with his grandchildren without having to worry about money. It wasn't much, but then again, he didn't need much. He needed to pay the bills, fill the oldsmobile with gas, and be able to buy the Boston Globe and Fitchburg Sentinel every morning to keep him abreast of local and national news (I remember getting in that car and going to the local mart to get the paper with him in the morning).
It was a robust public education system that allowed his mother and father to send him to school without worry about whether he would receive a decent education. And it was this same robust public education system that allowed him to send my mother and aunt to school and lay the foundation for their future success.
It was civil rights, and his belief that everyone deserves to get a shot, to vote, and to live their life free from oppression by those with more money, more power, and a different skin color. It was this belief that caused hundreds of people - some who knew him well, not so well, and only through others - to show up for his funeral and pay their respects. He was always willing to lend a hand to a neighbor, a friend, or a stranger. He believed that together we can do more, that we can achieve great things, and that we can succeed beyond our wildest dreams if we do it together.
But it was when he was diagnosed with cancer and dying that I saw the true power of what democrats had accomplished with medicare. Medicare allowed my grandfather to die with dignity; to not fight insurance companies, not worry about where he was getting his treatments from, to not worry about going bankrupt. He died with dignity...surrounded by his family, which is all any of us can ever ask for. He would be proud of Obamacare, and I wish he were here to see it.
I miss his wisdom, his calm and his love. And my vote tomorrow is to protect what he fought for many years ago. It's to protect the dream that everyone will get a fair chance in life and be able to live their last years with peace of mind and dignity. It's to allow parents to feel at ease sending their children to public schools. It's about rebuilding the roads and bridges of this country, those same roads and bridges that gave him work as a cement truck driver as he was helping to build them so long ago. And it's about rebuilding a middle class dream that once was and can be again.
Tomorrow I vote to protect his dream that allowed his daughters to be more successful than him and his grandsons more successful than them. Tomorrow he will be in my mind in the voting both. And I know that if he were here today, he would be so enthusiastic to vote for a President that has done more in the face of fierce opposition than he ever saw in his lifetime. Let's go protect his dream and all of our futures tomorrow.