Last week, while visiting my adopted gramma, I made my way to her room to see if the tulips a friend had sent made it. I also wanted to scope out the room to see if there was something simple that could be done to make it a little more homey and cheerful. She was not in her room as they had taken her to PT to rehab her broken tibia.
As I walked in the room, I was surprised to finally see her roommate sitting up in bed and alert. On prior occasions, she’d always been laying down and moaning, or acting very child like. I made my way to gramma’s half of the room behind the drawn beige curtain. There was little or no space on the tiny bedside table, and a very small shared surface as small as a typical bed side table in the direction both beds faced. The tulips were there. An orchid was on the bedside table but could easily be knocked over. Not really any space for personal stuff.
There was a small bulletin board less than two feet by two feet hanging over the head of the bed. Why? Wouldn’t it make more sense to put it at the wall at the foot of the bed so the resident could see it more easily? But then, I am not a convalescent home set-up consultant. What do I know? I was glad my adopted gramma at least had the bed alongside the window. That made it a little more cheerful.
As I turned to leave, the roommate asked me in her gravelly little East Coast voice “Don’t you just love her?” referring to a woman on the TV. It was Hillary Clinton.
“Love the hot pink suit; it looks really good on her.”
“But, don’t you love her? I just love her.”
“She looks really good in that suit. And her hair looks really good like that.”
“I just love her! Her husband was the best President we’ve had since FDR, don’t you agree?”
I could see she wasn’t gonna let me off. “No, ma’am, I don’t agree.”
“What?!? You probably like that Ronald Reagan, don’t you?!?”
“Yes. I think he was the greatest President so far in my life time. Don’t know if we’ll see another one as good as that.”
“Are you kidding!? she nearly shrieked. “If the Republicans had their way, my mother would have died penniless in the gutter; and I would be in the gutter now! Republicans only care about money. They don’t care about the poor. Medicare built this building. This building was built by Medicare!”
I kindly replied that Republicans don’t just care about money, and that I was not a Republican.
She didn’t believe me.
I told her I am a Libertarian and Constitutionalist.
“Lola” I said. (Not her real name, but a name I feel is awesome because it was used in a campy Barry Manilow song.) “Can we both agree that what we want is for people to have healthy food, a roof over their head, education, good medical care, peace, and freedom to pursue happiness and worship the way they choose?”
“Yes.” she said.
“Then we agree on the important things. Whatever label you put on it, we want the same things. Whether people believe in the Democrat or Republican party is no matter. Neither gets anything accomplished anymore. They’ve sold us out and talk out both sides of their mouth. They accomplish nothing but big finance and corporate objectives. They subvert the Constitution they’ve sworn to uphold and sell us down the river. We agree on the important things. Let’s focus on those. The rest is just silly semantics.”
“You can’t be a Republican. They don’t care about anything but money.”
“I am not a Republican. I am a Constitutional Libertarian. But most of my friends happen to be Republicans and they believe the same way I do.”
“I don’t believe it!”
“You don’t have to. ” I said gently, “But, what you do or don’t believe does not change the truth. I love Jesus and believe in Him and what He says – not Democrats or Republicans.”
“I like you.” she said.
She then proceeded to ask me about her roommate. I told her a little and she filled me in on her history. She was ninety-four years old. She had a son and a daughter. Both had married but had no children. Her husband had been a chemist who joined The Navy and worked with Dr. Sabin on oral polio vaccines at a hospital in Cairo. He acquired a form of Hepatitis over there and never fully recovered his health, but had a long time naval career based in D.C.
When I told her she had a lot in common with her ninety-nine year old room-mate and they should talk she gave a wave of the hand as if to say it was not possible. Strangely, I got the same reaction from gramma when I told her they have a lot of common and should try being friends.
I used to be more cognizant of “party lines.” Sometimes I still am when I fall into old ruts. But, these days I am about finding what I do have in common and working from there. Sometimes, we can work together on what we agree on and lovingly agree to disagree about the rest. Sadly, there are other times, where there are nonnegotiables that legitimately prevent us from even attempting to work together.
I want to love and be loved and get along. And who doesn’t? But, some things are so wrong there is no compromise. Would I have had the courage to stand up when my government came to collect my Japanese neighbors and deprive them of everything with no due process during World War II? I strongly disagree with Roe v. Wade and its bloody fall out. Is my merely saying so enough? I like to think that I would have joined the resistance in occupied Europe if I had been there during WWII, or would have gone to camps at the side of Jews and others who didn’t fit the Third Reich’s agenda. Would I have acted in a way consistent with what Jesus would do in my shoes in my time? Am I doing that in the here and now?
Thankfully, not all issues are as weighty as those. That doesn’t mean they won’t be in the not too distant future. Lord, help me to do Your will in the little things and the weighty. Help me to have the wisdom and courage to always speak the truth in love. To know when to make an uncompromising stand. And, when it’s more fitting and wise to just say “Nice suit.”