Today the Future of the World Will be Decided
Winter’s Late Arrival

Weeping in Relief

category_bug_journal2.gif This seems an odd comparison and it has been many years since I thought of it. But it sprang to mind this morning when I woke up, checked The New York Times front page to be sure I hadn’t dreamed president-elect Barack Obama’s victory, and got as weepy about it as I was last night:

Forty-one years ago, almost to the day, the soap slipped out of my hand in the shower. I grabbed for it, missed, and caught my breast instead. And, I caught a shock. The kind that makes your brain rattle around in your head. The kind that makes you dizzy.

In my hand was a hard lump that felt like a pebble about the size of a pea. There was no mistaking it: no mistaking that it was what cancer warnings are about, no mistaking that a doctor was required. Now!

It was my third day in Minneapolis, having just moved north with my then-husband from Houston. I didn’t know a soul yet, let alone a physician. Through a series of telephone calls, I found one and made an appointment.

Yes, he told me, it was the kind of lump that needed immediate surgery. Although it was seldom malignant in women my age (I was 26), he said as he showed me a drawing in a medical book about breast cancer, it was not unknown and it was often malignant in older women. It should be removed without delay.

Back in those days, 1967, there wasn’t much choice about treating breast cancer and I signed the permission, if the lump proved malignant, to remove my breast then and there. So I went into surgery a few days later not knowing if I would have one breast or two when I woke up.

In the recovery room of a hospital, a nurse told me the lump was benign, that under what seemed to me to be an excessive amount of bandaging for three stitches, I still had my breast.

I wept. And I kept weeping. So great was my relief that I didn’t stop weeping, on and off, for two or three days. More than I had wept over anything before or since.

Now, forty-odd years after marches and riots and bombings and murders over the right of black people to vote, over the right of black children to attend the same schools as white children, over the right of black people to sit and eat and travel and use the same drinking fountains as white people do, the United States has elected a black man to be president. And not just any man – black or white.

Yesterday, we elected a man who has engaged the hearts and minds of a majority of Americans, a man who believes hope is consequential. A man who convinced us to believe in hope too and that with it, there can be change.

It is a new day in so many respects, and I weep this morning in even greater relief than in 1967, which was, after all, only a personal release. Today’s is universal.

There is so much to do. So many wrongs to right. So much hard work ahead. But today, let us rejoice, tears and all. We have a done a good thing.

Comments

Yes indeed, a great and good thing has been done. We rejoice with you all.

I too have had tears welling up in my eyes more than once. Well done!

I heard a black man say on the radio this morning (in Canada) that Obama's message to all of us but particularly young men like himself is, now we have to step up our game. Obama's gift is to inspire, to bring out the best in us, and it's certainly been a long time coming!

We stayed up until midnight for this momentous occasion. Way to go, USA. Now lets get busy and do what the man said on stage last night. Work together to turn the wrongs to rights. Way to slam dunk, USA! (from a USA loving Canadian in Montreal.)

Ronni,

I am so thrilled with Barack Obama's victory, I can think of only one thing to say:

"START THE WORLD, I WANT TO GET ON."

Last night I got off work at 10PM and while driving home, I had to pull off the road for a bit because I was crying so hard. Tears of joy yes but also tears of relief. The next years will be difficult but now we have a chance to begin to do the things that we have so desparately needed to do. Relief that Sarah Palin will never, ever get anywhere near the Oval Office. Relief that we have elected not just the best man but I think time will show him to be a great man who with calm, deliberation led his nation through very difficult times. I have to stop now and go get more tissues.

Yes, Ronnie, I join you in weeping in incredible relief, also in joy. President-Elect Obama's speech last night in Chicago moved me to tears, hope, inspiration, and profound relief. Incredible joy!

Great post, Ronni....i didn't know you'd lived in MINNEAPOLIS?! can you believe what's going on in Minnesota these days? Coleman and Franken virtually tied? Michelle Bachmann won? Minnesota, home of Hubert Humphrey, Gene McCarthy, Walter Mondale...

"Hope is consequential."

Ronni, what a beautiful line. It reminds that the #1 reason I read you is that you're such a good writer.

May I steal the line if I promise to credit you whenever I think of it?

90% of my friends are die-hard Republicans and would vote for a rock if it was running on the Republican ticket.

Before the election, I was always the only one at the dinner table who planned to vote for Obama and now, I'm afraid that I will have to listen to all that is wrong with the country and how it is Obama's fault.

Amen. All weekend I've been listening to that song by Dave Stewart, American Prayer, singing and dancing it with hope in my heart. Barack Obama's election was the answer, for me, to that prayer. On Sunday I made a SoulCollage card to honor Obama. You can see it on my blog Embodied Aging. One of the things that heartened me also in the past few days was reading that Obama was spending a lot of his time preparing for the transition, talking with Paulson, etc. Now we have to put the YES WE CAN energy to work to resolve some of the monumental tasks awaiting us.

We'll see.

We have that in common. I found a golf-ball sized lump when I was 20 years old, and another one 6 mos. later. They were benign, but oh, the angst I went through.

I am ecstatic over the elections!

I am so happy and relieved about this outcome! January can't come fast enough!

I stayed up much later than my bedtime to watch this historic moment. As I listened to President-elect Obama, I felt so proud of him and of our country. What an amazing capacity to inspire hope he has! Obama believes in us as Americans, and that belief will help us rise to great heights. Yes, we can!!

I also want to add that I was very impressed by John McCain's extremely civil and gracious concession speech.

I am glad the country rejected Sarah Palin!

Everything seemed to come together to elect Obama. We truly need a wise leader like him, a thoughtful, caring person who weighs each side before making up his mind. If anyone out there has not yet read Dreams from my Father, get your hands on a copy and be inspired.

And, thanks, Ronni, for your thought-provoking posts throughout this long campaign!

I wonder -- as we get older, do we risk having the capacity to feel a pure joy rubbed out of us by experience, sometimes bitter experience? It seems to me that hanging on to the capacity to feel joy when appropriate is what makes for a life well lived.

Today is a day to bask in the delight of possibilities unforeseen just a few years ago.

WOW! What a profound comparison. I've had similar feelings - I was in Grant Park 40 years ago so last night's location was particularly amazing for me. I wrote about it but even more about the tough challenges that lie ahead. It's going to be an amazing time and you're right. We have done a good thing!

Didn't you hear my Texas-sized Whoopee all the way up in Maine?

I did the Happy Dance, and the smile on my face made me look like some goofy Chesshire Cat.

Terrific post, Ronni. Wonderful tie-in story.

Hope is consequential. A new mantra, perfect.

And to all the commentors, part of what makes TGB the best part of our mornings is each of us contributing in our own way. Like an extra swipe of icing on an already delicious chocolate cake.

Even the sourpusses. (Renee, come on, a little optimism please, on a morning where hope abounds. Unleash those crossed arms across your chest, take a deep breath, and reach out. We progressives don't bite.)

Woo hoo!

Yes we can! I am delighted!

I have, to borrow a line from Obama, "The Audacity of Hope", for the first time in a very long time.

And if John McCain had behaved with the dignity and honor he demonstrated in his concession speech (and not chosen that idiot woman as his running mate) throughout his campaign, it would have been closer.

What a wonderful thing to be able to let go of the tension I have been feeling for months. Hope is now the operative word. Congratulations to all of your hard working volunteers that helped make this happen.

I was 29 when I found a lump in one breast. I didn't have the recommended biopsy because I didn't have money for the surgery. Fortunately, my lumps were cysts. But I remember crying the day the doctor said it could be cancer. It's a scary diagnosis.

I cried too. There must have been buckets of tears of joy shed last night across this country and even the world.

I, too, am thrilled at the turn this country is taking! Long live the Obamas!!!

The election's outcome is great news to those of us in Calif., too. Just goes to show that no matter how bleak life looks there is always room for hope. I hope Pres.-elect Obama is able to unify all the people of this country after so many years of deliberate divisiveness being promoted.

Sorry to hear about your breast CA experience -- especially difficult when we're young, but glad it proved benign. Just read an article about the high rate of false positives with certain types of testing, but not a health symptom any of us would want to take a chance on.

Many tears of JOY as I watched Obama's speech and listened to his inspiring words of hope. I couldn't take my eyes off of this history-making night...not for one minute. Today the whole WORLD celebrates...literally. This is what our country so desperately needed to start to heal...

What a wondeful post Ronni. I am glad that your scare 41 years ago turned out to be just a scare, and I am glad to hear I wasn't the only one weeping with joy this morning!

"And not just any man – black or white."

Pres.-elect Obama is black and white.

According to the reports, Obama's being half black helped him more than it hurt him because it heavily swayed the votes of people of color while only slightly swaying the votes of Caucasians.

Tears from me as well, Ronni! Tears too watching MLK repeat those profound words from 45 years ago! It isn't going to be easy for the president elect or for us, but at least we will have hope & enthusiasm for the possibilities & the dreadful depression of these last years will subside. Also, just think of the historical events we elders have witnessed over these many years. Who would've ever believed it!

I know the tears from your relief those many years ago! Dee

Ronni,

I'm so glad you came through your terrifying experience okay. That must have been an emotional wollop.
Now, I'm up here in Vancouver, Canada, weeping with you. If we don't have hope, we have nothing. And Barack Obama is hope personified, speaking the words of a leader and bearing the smile of a generous man who's about to do something wonderful for his friends. Look closely at his eyes and you'll see all that you need to see. Congratulations, USA!

I stand with all of you in the congratulations, the enormous relief, the tears of joy and release. I want to say something else: RONNI, Congratulations to you, your blog, your faithful commentators and bloggers, who stood together on this way before others did. I believe you helped define this election for elders. You started the dialogue.

You questioned experience in reality discussions to stir our minds and souls. And the number I heard this morning is Barack carried a majority of people 65+ (65% to 33% for McCain). We helped to make a difference and you, Ronni, you gave us our voice.

I will drink a glass of wine to all of you from whom I learn (as a relatively new blogger) and a seasoned veteran of many Presidential elections but none, none as satisfying or inspiring as this one.

Unfortunately, I will have to wait till this evening to drink the wine as I am still at work and need this job since now I can't retire. But then, now there is hope for that. It will take time and we must be patient.

Wine for everyone tonight at 7?

Wow, NancyB. I hadn't seen that figure of 65 percent of elders for Obama.

Right up until Tuesday, polls showed the 65-plus crowd split about 50/50 between the two candidates, and some pundits were dismissive of us during the campaign, telling their audiences that old people were stuck in their old ways - implying racism - and not expected to join a revolution.

Thank you for your kind words about TGB. I was ambivalent about straying so frequently from the topic of aging, but the importance of the choice took precedence.

I lost a good number of regular readers during the campaign. Few explain why when they cancel subscriptions, but the cancellations always followed on the heels of political posts.

It doesn't matter. People who don't understand that getting old doesn't reduce one's interests to only health, finance and games (which too many websites aimed at elders confine themselves to) undoubtedly don't belong here.

Many elderbloggers in addition to me wrote consistently and compellingly about the campaign. (Take a look at the Sunday Issues posts.) So let's take up NancyB on her suggestion and toast ourselves this evening at 7PM.

Again, I'm thrilled to know the statistic on the elder vote.

Thank you, Ronni ...
I couldn't have said it better myself ... and I'm stil uncontrollably teary over this wonderful event, too !!
From an old worker in the fields with Dr. King and the other great people in Atlanta in the 1960s ...
Miki (Foote) Davis

Well, we've put the liberals in charge. I'll check back in four years and see how many are cheering.

I took the day off from work yesterday to care for my 6-year old grandson. He told me that he voted for Arock Obama in his 1st grade class on Monday. He watched on Tuesday in the booth with his grandmother as she voted for Barack Obama. I think many of us shed wonderful tears of relief and great joy.

It seems so very many of us had the same reaction, the tears, the joy, the hope for that new day a big step closer. Our country renewed itself in the eyes and hearts of so many, not just here in this country, but around the world. This is how important hope is!


Here I am again,Ronni. I don't usually comment twice but something I just heard makes me very happy and I want to let you and your readers know what is.

As you may know, I was a Hillary Clinton fan and had to switch my allegiance to Barack Obama when Hillary did not get the nomination. Not an easy task.

I have just read that 81% of Hillary backers voted for Barack Obama yesterday. I was one of them and I'm proud of all of us and I know Senator Clinton is, too.

Ronni, I can't stop crying. I think of you in that shower, the new home, the new city and I weep for the fear you must have experienced. I also weep with great happiness that we, a generation of elders, now have the opportunity to create a change of heart, an elasticity of mind. We can not turn back the clocks. We might not even be able to rectify the ills we have created (e.g. environmentally). But, we can give it a try, don't you think?

I, too, cried with relief and happiness. Today I've cried some more, and realize I am exhausted from all these months of being a nervous basket case and eight years of fear and loathing. Thank goodness I could stay home all day!

My son expressed it well on his blog when he wrote, "I feel like I'm coming out of a long, abusive relationship and someone is finally treating me nice and I don't know how to react."

Unfortunately we live in Tennessee surrounded by the stubbornly ignorant who are making this state redder and redder, so our votes didn't help. We felt better for voting, though. I have blue state envy and would like to live where the majority votes the same way I do for a change.

OK, now back on the high road that our new president has paved for us! It will feel so good to live with HOPE and to enjoy his press conferences because of his intelligence and quick wit (reminiscent of JFK).

I just heard Bill Schneider on CNN say that the 65-plus age group split their vote evenly between Obama and McCain.

Oh my goodness. I, too, know the wave of relief and release of tears upon learning that a breast lump was benign.

And last night? I sobbed. Big, fat, juicy tears. Today is a wonderful day, indeed.

I am very excited today for the coming together of our country in this first post election day. I too voted for Obama, and believe he can take our country in the right direction. We must all have patience and let him do his work. I thought his speech last night was very inspiring.

When he's half black, he's called black. For many, this is a huge step forward. For many, this is the face of America.

We've moved past color barriers and that is no small matter.

His logo? One for a new American design for the new world. Bigger even than the one he conceived for his campaign. It's globally out there, and brands/logos are very powerful.

I was surprised to find myself, my mom and my daughter all weeping listening to Obama's acceptance speech.

Today, I encountered many people, who welled up with tears as we commented on the incredible history we had witnessed. So many of us hoped against hope and saw a great man chosen by the people. With dignity and unquestionable leadership, Obama graciously, passionately accepted our decision to have him lead us.

Wonderful post and comments. It's a glorious day! I found that I cry with joy, relief and feeling again that we really are a good people with a reason to be proud of ourselves. There is so much good in this result.

What a relief to be rid of the current bullying, mean administration. I am thrilled to finally see an African-American President-elect. And a good man. Today's NY Times Opinion says of Barak Obama, "His triumph was decisive and sweeping, because he saw what is wrong with this country: the utter failure of government to protect its citizens."

Let me preface my statements below by saying my personal choice for a president didn't even make the ballot. (My biggest personal issue was passing of the FairTax.)

I see weeping here too.

Two managers I know are off to work *this morning* to eliminate positions and put people out of work (right before the holidays!)because of sales slumps *now* combined with anticipation of coming tax increases and the burden it will put upon their small start-up companies.

One small business person, in the pet care industry, will cut salaries across the board, and hope to not cut jobs.

Three more of my neighbors have put up for sale signs...just this week, one, recently laid off, and the other two anticipating that they too will have taxes increase and the possibility of them losing their jobs as they see their managers/CFOs scramble to make their bottom lines black and not red.

Self employment taxes and insurance have about killed my own tiny business, even before the "economic crisis" hit. It costs me more to run my business than if it just plain did not exist.

The only people in my small circle of friends and family who are not panicking are those who are employed by the government or who have retirement benefits, also, provided by the government.
Thank goodness my parents, and inlaws, in their 70's and 80's are in that catagory, as I am afraid they can no longer count on us as financial back up.

To be sure, some progressive, social issues that I am in line with, now have a shot at succeeding and for that I am truly grateful and hopeful.

But in my neighborhood, where I am placing my own "For Sale" sign upon my dream house, the collective sigh can be heard:

"Let the taxation begin."

I got home to Austin last night at about 10:00 PM from Cincinnati, Ohio, where I spent four days getting people to vote "and if you're gonna vote, the only sane thing to do is to vote for Barack Obama" and they did and Hamilton County, Ohio, went solidly Democrat for the first time in 44 years! I found out that I could make a difference- that "yes, we can" applies to everybody, even an old man of 74. Yes, the people have spoken and things will never be the same again.

Tears came to my eyes reading your post... what are collection

Ike you (and how many others?) Standing in Grant Park I felt more moved than in any time in my years as a reporter - and so proud that our new leader brought out such positive feelings in so many people

The worldwide outpouring of joy and goodwill has been truly gratifying. Nov 4 is now a national holiday in Kenya!

A tad late with posting, but I wanted to rejoice with you all in this wonderful outcome. I was keenly struck by the observation that this beautiful African-American family will be residing in a house that was largely built by slaves. (Some were free) How they must be celebrating with us from their heavenly dwellings!

The comments to this entry are closed.