The Journal Gazette
Saturday, October 24, 2020 1:00 am

Generation wrap

Voting vitally important to centenarian born before her gender had the right

Jeannette Price Schmidt

One hundred days before the November election, I am summoned to 108-year-old Mary's apartment.

She is agitated, animated and adamant: “I have something to live for and that is to vote and see the outcome of the election! I have to apply for my absentee ballot! Can you help me find out how to do that?”

For 108-year-old Mary has voted in every election. She cannot stand in line to vote this year at her polling station as certainly because of the raging pandemic as well as because of her age.

In our conversation, she is confident that the country will keep voting fair and accessible to all, confident that her vote will count if everyone, politics aside, is determined to make that happen.

Mary now watches the news all day long, well, mostly the news stations that run the “news ticker” at the bottom of the screen, as she can't hear the audio commentary well.

At 108, she has seen and experienced reams: the 1918 flu pandemic, two world wars, the civil rights and women's movements, and now the COVID-19 pandemic. But I have never seen her, in my 70 years, as discouraged, dismayed and despondent over the current administration; hence her burn to vote for and elect a new administration and Congress members who can put her country back on track as it nears derailment, and restore the sense of trust, honesty, respect and decency that ultimately have prevailed for almost 250 years.

On this day, 100 days before the national election, watching John Lewis' triumphant funeral, his good friend ends her eulogy with, “And for the love of God, please vote.”

As well as for 108-year-old Mary and her 6-month-old great-grandson – the generational bookends – and for all of us in between ...

Jeannette Price Schmidt, a Fort Wayne resident, is a retired teacher.

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