I don't have kids. The only thing I fear is being at the mercy of the state / whatever if I get to be 80-something years old. I don't know that I'll get to be that old (I keep thinking I should be dead by now! so by the time I hit 60 I my have to just make it so). Hopefully by then we'll be in a civilized country that has healthcare.
My father has, over the last 10 years, become very, very right wing. He'd always been left of center, but that last divorce took it out of him. She was very, very left wing, and he just reacted. He became a Fox News subscriber, buying into all of it. Living in northern California but parroting the Texas right-wing hardcore rhetoric, he was very much at odds with his surroundings and proud of it. During the run up to the election, he and I had a moment...he'd sent something via email, and I'd responded harshly, breaking down each idea with a vicious rebuttals, intending to be a complete bastard. To be fair, I'd had just about enough of him implying that I was an idiot. I was also in a severe amount of pain (back was out, badly) so my tolerance for being insulted was low. His response to that email was a very high-minded defense of his character...something I had not attacked...and an admonition that because he was my father, I had to respect his ideas and beliefs. "I don't know if it's because I brought you up thinking you could speak to me like that, or if it's because you think I'm just some guy and not your father..." That sort of thing. I'd apologized almost immediately, blaming the pain I was in for removing my usual ability to take a second and breathe before responding. He and I got past that, but it gave me pause. To be fair, he didn't "bring me up." My mom and stepfather were the main parents in my life from age 10 or so until my 20s. And he's not entitled to my respect by birth, though he is by action...and I do have a lot of respect for the guy. But that incident, combined with a few smaller altercations led to a night where we both sort of broke down and sorted things out. After all the crying and long-held issues were clear, we became what we should have been. He's a pretty amazing guy.
Recently, he shoved his entire life into a pickup truck and went into early retirement (at great expense to his future) to go take care of his folks full time in Virginia. Sold or gave away everything he owned that didn't fit into the back of his truck (which wasn't much), and paid through the nose to withdraw part of his retirement early, because at the core of the man is a set of beliefs that says: this is what we do. We take care of our own. We take care of our parents. We help each other.
Having had it out with him and reconciled, I see him differently and could care less about his whacked-out politics. While he has maintained a certain core set of southern male beliefs, he is faced with a distinct clash of beliefs vs. actual requirements. Right at this second, he has no health insurance. He is not yet old enough to qualify for government health care. He has a very, very small nest egg tied into an IRA. If he gets sick, or gets into an accident, and requires hospitalization, he will be bankrupted and in debt for the remainder of his life. "They can go after my retirement, my savings, hell even my truck," he tells me. "Who's going to take care of your grandparents if I'm laid up?"
I mentioned that the wife and I are a good financial resource, since we're manic about saving, but he dismisses the idea. "I want to pay my share, you know? But I don't want to pay $4800 a month" which is what he was actually quoted for independent insurance, since he has two common southern white male pre-existing conditions: hypertension and diabetes. I agree, it's silly. I tell him, hey, that's why we want a single-payer option, a government run public health care program like the one our old folks get, once that will compete and keep the prices down. Not that either side of our one party system has managed this feat....the dollars, always the dollars.
My father laughed when I mentioned this. "Yeah," he said, "sometimes things that are politics should not be." Sometimes? "OK, most things."
My grandmother is going to be OK, but she's in her 80s. Her America is helping her, taking care of her, but soon she'll be gone, and her America with it. Whatever happens after had better live up to her name. Whatever happens after had better help take care of her son, who's done everything right (and more than most would do). I'm not looking for a reward. I'm looking at simply caring for those who need it, regardless of the perceived and actual costs. I'll do everything I can, but it ain't much...each vote is only more proof, it seems, that politics is a separate universe from the one it controls.
In fifty years when I'm her age, if things are the same? I'll hopefully be dead or in Canada.
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