“Can I tell you something?” I asked my teacher while standing at the side of her big wooden desk positioned near the classroom door.
“Yes dear, of course. What is it?” the elderly woman said sweetly.
“I want Geraldine Ferraro to win,” I said in almost a whisper.
A smile crept across her face. I loved her so, and was relieved to see a smile. “Why is that a secret?” she asked matching my hushed tone.
“My parents say that Mr. Mondale is a socialist and talk about how terrible that is. But I don’t care. I just want her to be Vice President. They also said she could become president if something happened and that wasn’t a job a woman should have. But I wish we could vote for her.” My words came out in a rush. I’d been holding them in for all the months leading up to the election and now it was so close. My teacher reassured me that she also wanted her to be elected. And she also said that it was fine if I kept that secret to myself at home.
I didn’t care about socialism. I didn’t care about Ron and Nancy. They were fine old people in my estimation. All I cared about what that this lady might be picked for one of the most important jobs in the world. All that mattered to me was that someone like me could do that.
I kept my thoughts to myself at home and remember the crush of disappointment when Ferraro and her running mate lost in a true landslide to Reagan and Bush Sr. I crawled into bed that night thinking “Maybe next time.” There was no way of knowing that I would be 44 years old the next time I felt that mixed sense of hope and anxiety that a woman might just make it to one of the most important offices in the world.
And not just any woman. A woman of strength, humor, and an incredible work ethic. A woman of color. A woman who chose not to have children but is a lovely extra adult to her stepchildren and nieces. A woman who was single for 50 years. A woman who runs things while wearing Chuck Taylors.
So 8 year old Leah…here’s to us! We waited and she showed up.
Congratulations Madam Vice President! The first…but not the last!