Sunday, September 17, 2006

Remembering Ann

As you have probably heard, we lost our ex-governor, Ann Richards, the other day. I was sad to hear that she was gone. Ann, you see, was part of the reason I moved to Texas.

You see, in the hinterlands of our nation - that is, the part that is NOT Texas - people do not necessarily view this state as a desirable place to live. When I told people that I was considering moving to Austin, many said, "Wow, Austin is supposed to be great...but, it's in TEXAS. They're CRAZY down there." I did wonder about the wisdom of deep, deep blue me, moving to the reddest of the red lands (albeit to the little blue heart right smack in the center of the state).

When I talked to my mother (who, if I am blue, is deep indigo), she, knowing I wanted to see Austin, said, "Well, they DID elect Ann Richards, so I think you might be OK. They appear to like strong women there." (Mom, you see, was at the Democratic convention in '88, when Ann made her famous speech about Bush Sr. being "born with a silver foot in his mouth." Mom was a staunch fan of Ann's from there on out.)

So, I moved to Austin, because she was right...Texas couldn't be all gun nuts and fundamentalists if Ann was governor. And, she was governor when I got here - for a year. Then...well, then came Junior.

I remember 1994; by then, I was wondering if Ann was really my kind of Democrat. She was too happy with the death penalty for me, too friendly to the gun lobby. (I had by then met The Man, who was then a long-haired, bike-riding hippie environmentalist Wheatsville-loving agitator, who clued me in on some of her less progressive opinions.)

But...oh, Ann, when I look back now, I wish so much that you had won the governorship back from him. I apologize if I didn't work harder for you. What havoc he has wreaked on the world; what horrible malfeasance we could have avoided if he had never even risen to the level of governor. (And what a noxious current governor we could have avoided, too.)

She was a good, salty, strong woman; a "broad" in the best sense of the word. She did more than "open the doors" for women in Texas government - she used a sledgehammer, because those doors were triple-deadbolted before she came along.

I never got to meet her, but she did sit in front of The Man and me seven or eight years ago at a movie at the old Village Cinema, before it became the Alamo Drafthouse. (You couldn't mistake that bouffant, and it was right in front of me. Oh, there were plenty of open seats, and I could have moved, but I felt strangely honored - and tickled - to have my vision obstructed by her big hair.)

So, thanks, Ann, for helping me decide to move here (which was apparently a good move, 'cos I'm really happy, gun nuts and fundamentalists notwithstanding), and thanks for helping women in this state and everywhere know that the glass ceiling was made to be broken.

Right before she left office, Ann said:
“I did not want my tombstone to read, ‘She kept a really clean house.’ I think I’d like them to remember me by saying, ‘She opened government to everyone!'"

Damn straight, Ann. (In fact, I can guaran-goddamn-tee you that my tombstone will say NOTHING even remotely like that.)


Badger said...

AMEN. Are you going to the memorial thingie tomorrow? I kind of want to go. But I don't want to go by myself, so I probably won't.

Bookhart said...

The coverage of Ann's death has reminded me that there was a time when the people I voted for actually won, and that I had some small hope that government was on my side.

Karla said...

Ann and now Lloyd Doggett are the only politicians i ever could truly support.