I had a blog ready to go about wearing a safety pin to signal that I would stand up for the vulnerable.
The essence of the piece was that others would see me as an ally regardless of who they were. I also emphasized that I had friends, high school classmates, and neighbors who voted for President-elect Trump. The election hadn’t changed my feelings for them. More than anything, I was thankful we lived in a country where we could vote.
My WordSister, Ellen, read the blog (we edit each other’s work prior to posting) and she said that it didn’t speak of the fear that people had. I reread my blog and it was true. My children who are Latinos hadn’t spoken of any fear. Yet, others around me have told me of instances where their children, both young and adult, have.
The proportion of Richfield residents who speak a language other than English at home (26.1%) is higher than the overall percentage for Minnesota (10.9%). 34.7% of students in the Richfield schools speak Spanish at home. 3.5% speak Somali. I decided to enrich my piece by asking a Latino friend to tell me how the Richfield community was feeling.
Instead of editing the blog, life happened. Both of us, especially my friend, was caught up in the planning of a funeral for the two Richfield students who were murdered by their dad. Being present and available to our children and others was paramount to the election results.
Juan Jose, Crystel, and two of their classmates helped carry the white caskets into the church. They huddled with their friends and watched Luis and his sister, Nahily’s life roll on the wide screen, which of course included all of them from preschool to eighth grade. My Latino friend worked hours on this video and cried for many more hours for the loss of these two children who she knew so well. During the service, Crystel and other RDLS and RMS students sang the Prayer of St. Francis that they had practiced all week. At the cemetery, Juan and some of his friends shoveled dirt onto the caskets. Other friends were too distraught and couldn’t bear to do it. After we returned to the church Jody and I helped serve the food that was donated. Not once during this day did I think or worry about President-elect Trump.
The following week at work, I planned a coworker’s funeral. He died alone. He had been estranged from his two children for over 20 years. His work was his family. Even so, he kept the people he had worked with for over 30 years at arm’s length. He was proud. He was private. I called the police to do a welfare check when I didn’t receive an expected call from him. They broke into his house. He had succumbed to illness. The biggest fear of his coworkers was that his body would go unclaimed. I told them that wouldn’t happen. We would claim him. We would give him a funeral. We would bury him. I contacted the medical claims examiner and asked if his children who were 24 and 26 were notified. They were. I told the claims examiner to tell the children that his work family were here for them and would do whatever was needed.
A supervisor and I met his children at his house. We led the way in, pointed to the framed photos on the wall that were them as toddlers. Talked about how his dad never forgot his children. We gave his children a tour of the plant. Showed them his office, and his tool box. Opening the box would reveal, again, their pictures as toddlers.
Together, we held a funeral and reception for their dad.
Not once during this time did I wonder or question who voted for President-elect Trump or Hillary Clinton.
Instead of a safety pin, my smile, my hello, and my service to others will let people know that I’m an ally.
I’ll be the good I want to see in the world–you can count on me to keep showing up for the hard stuff.
Regardless of who you voted for.