471 A Letter to Ms. Emma
Mrs. Emma McClain
516 W. 143rd St
New York, NY 10031
For the first time since you passed away, I'm hoping there really IS a heaven and if there is, I know you're in it and probably watching what's going on in the neighborhood and in the nation. But in the event you aren't, I think you'll be interested in what has been happening down here.
Yesterday was election day, and the guy who won? He's a black man. Can you imagine that? No, I didn't think you could. I'm having trouble grasping it, too.
You and I? We argued, fought, laughed and cried together for years. And there always were things about which we disagreed, sometimes with great vigor. But not this. We -- Americans -- Americans of every race and every upbringing and ever idea and every ideal, elected a President we can be proud of. And, like you, he's mostly black. Forgive me, Em, but I know about your white relatives, because one day you told me. Maybe a bit too much wine. Maybe you were just feeling talkative, your son Cleve already in the great beyond. Your dog (I can't remember his name,) also there.
But the point isn't that we have an African American President ready to take the oath in just a few months. The point is we have a President who understands us and lead us and who happens to be African American waiting in the Wings.
He's from Hawaii. And lately, he's been living in Chicago. I guess that's not quite as good as having been from rural Georgia and living in New York. But no one's perfect. What IS perfect is that the kind of thing we worked for -- you and I -- has finally come to pass. If you were still in the world of flesh and blood, you'd be 95, now. I wish you were here to see this. It would have made your living heart glad -- just as it's making mine.
I had to work election night. When my chores were over, I got into the car and I cried. And I came home with fresh tears still in my eyes. And some of those tears were tears of joy for our country. But some of them were for you, because you deserved to see this. And unless there really IS a heaven, and you really CAN look down on us -- which I doubt -- I cried for you, too. Because you deserved to see this when you were alive. And I'm not sure the message'll get through.
But a lot of this is sentiment. My employer at the time of your death was Mike Bloomberg. He ran for his first term as Mayor of New York and he won. And when the cameras were turned on that night, he said "now comes the hard part."
President Elect Obama did not say that election night when he addressed the huge crowd in Chicago's Grant Park from behind bullet proof glass. But he knows -- and we know that that's the case.
Now comes the hard part.
The tone of the opposition was set tonight by Senator McCain, the Republican candidate. Mr. McCain was graceful and eloquent beyond what he needed to be. He asked us to come together as Americans and to get behind President-Elect Obama, and he sounded -- maybe for the first time during this slimy and ugly campaign -- that he meant it.
So, Emma, if you happen to be watching from that heavenly perch of yours, please do what you can to help us. We need this President, and we need your guiding spirit.
PS. I still think you spoiled that dog rotten.