Every year my ancient nana would call me up to make sure that I’d voted.
“It’s the least you can do, Carrie. The least you can do,” she’d say. “It’s our civic duty to protect the enchanted.”
Who are the enchanted? According to my nana? Women. Children. The disenfranchised.
My nana, Rena Philbrick Morse, was not a least-you-can-do sort of person, but voting was her bar for the ‘least you can do.’
She had high expectations of her family and of women.
Voting was tremendously important to her because women’s right to vote happened on her tenth birthday. She always heard from men that she knew were less intelligent than her disparage women’s brains. A farm girl, she heard a lot of men say that women were too delicate to do physical labor. That farm girl lived to be 100 and spent 99 years of it working her garden.
When women were give the right to vote, she celebrated with her mom knowing that she would have a voice.
My nana was a tall woman, rail-thin, brought up three kids of her own when her jazz drummer husband left her. She was involved in New Hampshire for an extremely long time. Her eldest son ended up desegregating the UNH fraternity system back in the 1950s. She was the valedictorian of her high school and her mind? Her mind was brilliant and so sharp. She was a woman who was stoic. She didn’t emote. She was a plank of barn board that refused to bend no matter what beat against her.
So when she called me crying one November, I couldn’t understand. I thought someone had died.
“No,” she gasped. “No.”
It was worse than that.
One of my older relatives didn’t vote. She had claimed she had ‘no head for politics.’ She’d been lying about voting for years.
I’m not sure how my nana survived that.
But she did. She survived because someone needed to drive that relative to the polls. She survived because she knew she had work to do. We all have work to do.
The purpose of motivation and engagement or protecting ourselves and others through words, through action, through voting? It’s your purpose. It’s our purpose.