How Hillary Clinton Allows Me To Honor The Legacies Of My Mom & Grandmother
I dressed very carefully the morning of Election Day. I didn't wear a pantsuit or the "Make Herstory" shirt I had in my closet, just a simple outfit that I might've worn any other day of the work week. But despite how apolitical my clothes appeared, I was making a statement. On the day that I believed that the United States would elect the first woman to the presidency, I sported items that belonged to my mother and my grandmother, two women who would have been elated to see Hillary Clinton break, as she puts it, the "highest, hardest glass ceiling." As it turns out, I didn't see her shatter it either. But if Clinton had a chance of winning, I wanted my mom and grandmother by my side in the only way they could be.
I slid on a giant, faux white-stone bracelet — typical of the kind of loud statement pieces that my mother gravitated toward — that threatened to slip off of my wrist. I twisted my hair up simply and secured it with an aqua-blue hair clip with opal insets, no doubt something that my mother wore in her hair, once long and flowing, before multiple rounds of chemo to treat her breast cancer left her bald. To top off the ensemble, I threw on a pair of vintage leather lace-up oxfords that once belonged to my grandmother. Mimi, my father's mother, was impeccably stylish before she succumbed to advanced stages of Alzheimer's, at which point she was relegated to a wardrobe of drab pajama sets.
Mimi and Mom wouldn't see Clinton's loss on Tuesday, but they wouldn't see Trump's win, either. These women, the two most influential people in my life, passed away years before the United States saw its first female major-party candidate. It was important to me, though, to have them with me. That was a day that I naively expected the country to rally behind a Democratic candidate who had fought for women, families, and fairness throughout her career.
I wanted my grandmother, a Baptist preacher's wife whose compassion for others caused her to identify as pro-choice, to know that Roe v. Wade was firmly intact in the hands of a president who would also champion women's health during her term in office. Mimi, who raised three sons, gleefully embraced me as her only granddaughter, supporting every dream I ever had and making sure that I knew that, whatever goal I set for myself, I should follow without abandon.
Clinton, to me, represented the same values that those women strove to instill in me.
I wanted my mother, a woman who demonstrated incredible fortitude and perseverance to her young daughter before she died, to be assured that women really can do anything. I wanted the woman who rose from a poor kid in a trailer park to the first female president of her dental school — a journey that her largely-absent single mom had no interest in contributing to — to see her own accomplishments in breaking barriers mirrored on a national scale. She and Clinton would've had a lot to talk about, I think.
Clinton, to me, represented the same values that those women strove to instill in me. More than just being a self-assured and strong woman, they taught me to have empathy for others and to make sure that loving and reaching out to others was a central part of my life. Clinton has spent her life extending a hand to some of the most disenfranchised people in our society, as did my mother and grandmother. I know that they would have been proud to see her as the Democratic candidate. I also know that they would've been similarly heartbroken to see that she lost out to a candidate whose campaign promoted hatred.
Truthfully, though, I didn't need to wear personal effects to know that they were with me on Election Day. Mimi's and Mom's legacies are ever present in my life, because the way that they lived is something that I aspire to. I wish that I could have had a moment on Tuesday where I touched my hair clip or glanced at my bracelet to think, "We did it, y'all." That didn't happen.
But I rest assured that my forbearers, just like the woman they helped raise, would be extremely proud of the work that Clinton has done. Because, even without her physical presence, Clinton's legacy is something that millions of women around the globe can aim for. Even with this loss, I am overwhelmed with pride and admiration for Clinton. Her story, like my mother and my grandmother's, is something that I hope to continue.