God Bless You, Lester Bagus, Jr.!

Just when I start to lose my optimism about our democracy, a miracle happens.

I spent a full morning at Denver’s Lighthouse Writers Workshop, puzzling over the past and editing the post I had planned for tomorrow. As I ride my bike to the gym, fuzzy-brained and tired, I see signs exhorting me to vote. And I hear myself think with a sigh, Not this again. It all feels like too much right now, like too hard a push for good things to happen this mid-term election.

I lock my bike and step into the Carla Madison Recreation Center, a colorful four-story building erected less than a year ago at the bustling corner of Colfax and Josephine. Behind me, a man enters the building and approaches the desk. He’s holding a small plastic bag carefully in his left hand. He wears a cap embroidered with insignia, and a gold cross shines around his neck.

Where did you say that thing is? he asks the young woman behind the desk.

See those orange pillars there? she replies. Just behind them and then to the left. She points through the glass doors. He looks perplexed, and I see that his plastic bag contains a ballot.

I’ll show you where it is, I offer. I just dropped mine off yesterday.

He smiles at me, broad relief in his brown face. His voice holds some southern gravel as he thanks me. Oh, I almost asked you outside. You look like you work here. We step back into the November sunshine and walk together between orange pillars and toward the drop-box, a squat white rectangle not easy to see. You know, he tells me, I never voted before. This is my first time.

ballot boxI stop walking and erupt: God bless you! I see his face shining, full as a Thanksgiving platter. I can’t believe I get to be here with you casting your first ballot! I say.

God bless you, too. I’m glad you’re here with me. You know, I volunteered for Vietnam when I was sixteen years old, and this is my first time voting.

My skin tingles as I watch him drop his signed ballot in the slot. As his envelop lands on top of others, my temptation to cynicism falls away.

We look at each other and grin. I’m sixty-seven years old, and I’m finally voting! He gives me a big hug. I breathe in the scent of his aftershave, and I soak up the warmth of his satisfaction and of his hope.

Before we say goodbye, he introduces himself to me and shakes my hand. Thank you, Lester Bagus, Jr.

13 thoughts on “God Bless You, Lester Bagus, Jr.!

  1. I must echo Margarita: I had tears in my eyes by the end of this. Knowing you had labored over another piece of writing, were ready to post it and then this happened and the writing of it was irresistible and full of tender hope, the hope so many of us hold right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ruth Possehl

    I triple echo Margarita! i too felt my skin tingling and tears in my eyes reading this. I love the serendipitous fortune you both had in MEETING each other…REALLY meeting each other. . .
    THank you Jenny Lynn AND Lester Bagus, Jr!!!!

    Like

  3. Marvelous! Real. Well written! Connecting in such a helpful & cheerful way with someone you recognize as needing a bit of help is a gift. Finding out it is at such a monumental time feels like a gift returned.

    Like

  4. Fighting woman as seen from a point of view of a 12 year old daughter after coming to America before Jenny Lynn & Marta were born, is one of a woman with a shattered heart. A woman having lost her mother less than 2 yrs earlier, then leaving ALL her family and friends, people she loved, only to find the “American dream” scary, overwhelming for her children as well as herself & lonely beyond anything she could have forseen, -albeit being loved by her husband who, although understandably, could not begin to feel her pain.

    Liked by 1 person

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