Well, here we are. The day we pick the man who will run this country for the next four years. But even though I cast my right to choose early this morning, my mind was made up long ago on who impresses me most as a leader. My mom. On this election day, my dearest Inge Dunbar turns 80 years young. We celebrated her birthday this past weekend in Michigan, where we had a great dinner, lots of laughs, and even more love.
I vote for my mom because she has a perspective not only on this country, but on this world, that very few have. Mom was born in Frankfurt, Germany, she grew up under the Hitler regime. Her formative years were waiting for air raid sirens in downtown Frankfurt, then running for a bomb shelter. In many cases, when she would emerge from the bomb shelter, there would be nothing left of what once was a building, or entire city blocks. Allied forces mowed down many parts of Europe, in the effort to stifle the advance of Hitler’s demonic march toward world domination. The first piece of gum she ever chewed? Came from a U.S. soldier. International relations. She would spend months living on farms outside the bombing zones in Frankfurt. She knows what it’s like to want to eat. She knows what it’s like to long for democracy.
When mom was born, Herbert Hoover was running this country, but when she emigrated to the U.S. in the very early 60’s, she, as many in America were, was following closely the charismatic young leader of this nation, John F. Kennedy. From day one in this country, she has always taken her right to vote very seriously. She is one who appreciates so much, what so many of us take for granted. She knows first-hand what it’s like to not even have a vote. To be suppressed, and expected to conform to the rule of the regime. What a joy it must be, to go from a dictatorship, to the ability to have your voice heard. I will forever take my ability to vote, and choose, as serious as her, because of her.
I vote for my mom because of her fiscal experience. When she emigrated to the states, she was a beautician by trade, but could only find work cleaning houses and offices. We lived in Louisville, Kentucky when we came state-side, preparing for the eventual return of my dad, from Vietnam. In Kentucky was where he grew up, so she figured we needed to get settled in before he got home. That transition was not easy. Money was tight, and her job did not pay much, but I can’t ever remember going without. There was always food on the table, and love in our house. Core essentials to life. Making our money go farther, mom would always somehow turn one dollar, into five. To this day, she still has a knack for finding deals, or simply waiting out retailers until they give in, and give her what she wants, at the price she thinks is fair. A candidate who knows the value of a dollar, but even better, knows better than to overpay for goods and/or services. Because clothes were expensive, my mom learned to sew. She made clothes, and fixed clothes. To this day, she still uses a sewing machine to alter her own clothes, and drapes etc. The sign of a candidate who has a can-do attitude.
And in her darkest hour, when an Army staff car drove up to our house on MacBrae in Louisville, she already knew why there were there before she even hit the door. Dad was gone. Another name on the Vietnam memorial wall. And despite the loss of the love of her life, despite being in a country that still had a large segment of the population who did not take kindly to people from “Germany,” she pushed forward. Carving out a life for us, day to day, week to week. Food on the table, clothes on our backs. It would have been easy to retreat to Germany, to home, family and old friends, but mom chose to forge ahead. In a country where she was the decided minority, with just about every roadblock you can think of in front of her, she survived, and then thrived.
She didn’t go on to build some million dollar business. We are people who came from little means. But she never once got over her head in debt. To this day, one credit card. That’s all anyone needs she says. You have a balance at the end of the month, you pay it off. You have a mortgage on your house, you pay it off. She exudes so many characteristics that we hope for in a candidate. Experience, perspective, compassion, kindness, and responsibility.
That is why on this election day, I vote…………..for my mom.