On the day my mother died at age 91, she was lucid as ever in that hospital bed. She said she was reviewing her life, and concluded that she lived in the most exciting era in history. She shared her thoughts with me, never referring to the car accident that placed her in her present situation. She talked about the “marvelous” inventions and scientific discoveries and research that had occurred — the computer, microwaves, color TV and movies, commercial airplanes, and the automobile.
Smiling, she continued.
“Did you know, I must have told you before, that I had the thrill of riding in my high school boyfriend’s automobile? His family was the first on our block in Chicago to own this speedy [15 miles/hour] automobile.”
Using her observations to distract me from the seriousness of her injuries, my mom continued talking about this exciting era in history. She noted the incredible success of medical research in the 1900s, discovering cures for several deadly and life-crippling diseases, like pneumonia and polio.
My mom was a remarkable woman, and I will always remember her, and this bittersweet conversation we had that day. I’m thinking about her, especially now, as the 4th of July approaches. It was her second favorite holiday. Her favorite celebration was Thanksgiving, a day for and about family and gratitude.
Occasionally I think about my life and times. I know I do not appreciate enough all the benefits and opportunities I have. Nor do I acknowledge all that’s been accomplished, especially in recent years. In fact, I have medical research to thank for my life. I would have died in February 2013, if not for the development of the “pacemaker,” an amazing battery-operated device that keeps my heart beating. And now, how fortunate we are that medical researchers have developed a vaccine to combat the scourge of COVID-19 that has swept the globe. There were so many deaths, so much suffering. The vaccine will save countless lives.
As you readers know, I have been laser-focused in my concern for social justice and our nation’s future, especially in response to the power-mad, greedy, racist, and uncaring behavior exhibited during the Trump administration. Therefore, if you have been irritated by my continuous political writing, please blame the attentive, caring, knowledgeable doctors, and my loving and supportive family and friends.
As to my future years, I will try to appreciate (like my mom did) the “marvelous” accomplishments our science and technology achieves. I will also “annoyingly” persevere, speaking out against lying, lawlessness, bias, and hate. I’ll speak up for the vision that our nation be vested in truth, compassion, and equality.
May we have a strong and true democracy!
Harriet Hausman, a longtime resident of River Forest, is 97 years young.