The day my mother passed away at 91, she was clearer than ever in that hospital bed. She said she was reviewing her life and concluded that she had lived through the most exciting time in history. She shared her thoughts with me, never referring to the car accident that put her in her current situation. She spoke of the “wonderful” inventions and scientific discoveries and research that have taken place – the computer, microwaves, color television and movies, commercial airplanes and the automobile.
Smiling, she continued.
“Did you know, I must have told you this before, that I had the thrill to get in my boyfriend’s car from high school?” His family was the first in our neighborhood in Chicago to own this rapid [15 miles/hour] car.”
Using her observations to distract me from the seriousness of her injuries, my mother continued to talk about this exciting time in history. She noted the incredible success of medical research in the 1900s, finding cures for several life-threatening and debilitating diseases, such as pneumonia and polio.
My mother was a remarkable woman, and I will always remember her, and that bittersweet conversation we had that day. I think of her, especially now, as the 4th of July approaches. It was his second favorite holiday. Her favorite celebration was Thanksgiving, a day for and about family and gratitude.
Every now and then I think about my life and my time. I know I don’t appreciate all of the perks and opportunities I have enough. I also do not recognize how much has 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 it weren’t for the development of the “pacemaker,” an incredible battery-powered device that makes my heart beat faster. And now, how lucky we are that medical researchers have developed a vaccine to fight the scourge of COVID-19 that has swept the world. There have been so many deaths, so much suffering. The vaccine will save countless lives.
As you know, readers, I have focused on my concern for social justice and the future of our nation, especially in response to the power-mad, greedy, racist and indifferent behavior exhibited during the Trump administration. Therefore, if you have been angered by my continued political writings, please blame the caring, caring, and knowledgeable doctors, and my loving and supportive family and friends.
As for my future years, I will try to appreciate (as my mother did) the “wonderful” achievements of our science and technology. I will also persevere “annoyingly” against lies, lawlessness, prejudice and hatred. I will defend the vision that our nation is invested in truth, compassion and equality.
May we have a strong and true democracy!
Longtime River Forest resident Harriet Hausman is 97 years old.