By Katie Taylor
From a loving daughter
This house has two TVs. At 7 p.m. each night, one plays Fox News, the other MSNBC.
There are two registered voters in this house: one Republican, one Democrat. This house has two parents, one stoic father and one vigilant mother. A God-fearing Christian and an Agnostic live here. An LGBTQ advocate and a Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell subscriber sleep in the same bed. One resident receives a pension from his aluminum worker’s job and curses federal taxes. Another resident gets nothing in her retirement from being a teacher’s aid and hopes for increased federal spending for additional environmental protection. A diehard patriot and a diehard conscientious objector fight over shelf space for the orange bottles that contain their medications. They don’t agree on the governor’s race.
Yet this house still stands.
I recently stayed in this house. I cared for the Republican and the Democrat. I took the God-fearing Christian to the hospital for a hernia repair. I stayed by the vigilant mother’s side while she writhed in pain from acute pancreatitis. I forgot to mail the retired aluminum worker’s change-of-address form for his voter’s registration but remembered to bring him the local paper each morning. I sat in the hospital waiting room while the Agnostic received a new kneecap after a nasty fall. I retrieved both of their prescriptions and did loads of their laundry each day.
How does this house still stand?
I stayed in this house for more than two weeks. While I was there, the Republican lovingly stroked the dog’s head. The retired Teacher’s Aid cried when I told her it was time to put the dog down. She asked if the new trash cans had been delivered. The patriot called the waste management company first thing every morning to check the status of the cans. In various rooms throughout the house, I answered the same questions from the fiscal conservative and the liberal spender: “How are the kids?” “How’s Rob?” “How is your job going?” “How has the weather been on the West Coast?” The LGBTQ advocate and the adversary watched the college football game together on Saturday. They ate chili at halftime and then complained to each other of heartburn.
Therefore, this house still stands.
During those two weeks, over sushi, the Republican confronted me for supporting Dr. Ford during the Kavanaugh hearings.
“All this after flying across the country to take care of you and your wife?” I thought.
From her hospital room on the fifth floor, the Democrat guilt-tripped me for going back to the Pacific Northwest before they released her.
“Should I ignore my own family now that you’re sick?” I wanted to retort.
I want to tear down this house.
This house went up more than 50 years ago; it seems a shame to tear it down now. Before its builders were a fiscal conservative and an environmentalist, he was a 20-year-old trying to convince his father he should pursue professional baseball, and she was a 17-year-old trying to convince her mother of the merits of joining the convent. Then he turned 21, and she turned 18. They had been dating for a while. The Future Republican proposed to the Future Democrat in her driveway. Decades before he was watching Fox News and she was watching MSNBC in a separate room, they drove together, hand-in-hand, across the Smoky Mountains to elope. They had a baby less than a year later.
This house has stood for a long time.
Over the years, I’ve made many calls to this house; this house has given me a lot. When our home flooded, the vigilant mother gathered all our textiles, and washed and re-washed the red river muck from their fibers, folded and returned them as if they were new. Together, they put me on a plane to New York City to attend college. They smiled radiantly when I waved at them from the stage where I received my doctoral diploma. Aside from my husband and me, they love our children more than anyone else in this world. If phone batteries would allow, they would spend hours on FaceTime, merely staring at my sons’ perfect faces.
I pray this house stands forever.
But after my stay in this house, I’m worried. The liberal has diabetes. The patriot has congestive heart failure. The conscientious objector can’t keep from eating sweets during a Rachel Maddow segment. The stoic father loves dirty martinis with his Fox News. They are immortal, leaning on handrails to reach the toilet, washing each other’s backs seated in the shower. Their skin is mottled and red in places, their eyes glassier than how I remember. Sometimes, when the weather is good, they drive together across the Smoky Mountains to escape this house.
How much longer can this house stand?
I love the Democrat and hate the Republican. I love the aluminum worker and hate the teacher’s aid. I love the Agnostic and hate the God-fearing Christian. I love the patriot and hate the conscientious objector. I love, I hate. They love, they hate. They live, they die. We love, we hate, we live, we die. We, we, we, we …
This house will stand.