It's still hard to wrap my brain around the fact that she died over twelve years ago. She still makes me laugh. I still feel a compulsion to pick up the phone and tell her about part of my day or to ask her what she'd do in a given situation. She wasn't enough older than me to be my mother, but she mothered me when I was in need of one. The last time I saw her she was in remission from the leukemia she had battled for over a year. We ate Peanut Butter Fudge Passion ice cream together and looked at the photo proofs of my family that would be tucked into that year's Christmas cards. She looked so well and happy no one could have predicted she would live only another six months. One thing I remember so clearly about Glady is that she was a Republican. A conservative small business owner who was a regular church-goer who believed that social programs were for the lazy and shifty among us. We engaged in many lively discussions over a beer or two after volleyball. We were friends despite our deep differences of opinion in politics and the role of government. One night after volleyball she announced that she would soon be a grandmother. Her son's girlfriend was pregnant. They were both college students with multiple loans and meager incomes. And no health insurance. Her eventual daughter-in-law had applied for every government funded program available to her to ensure the health and well being of her child. This would amount to thousands of taxpayer dollars going toward medical care and food and daycare for her grandchild over the next couple of years. When her granddaughter was born, Glady stood up and drank a toast to all of us there for providing that safety net. She was still a Republican. But she was much less apt to judge anyone who was temporarily in need of a helping hand. The point is, she understood that from a personal experience. Because of that helping hand, her son had been able to complete his education and join the work force in a high-paying job. Eventually he would more than pay back the system that he had been a beneficiary of. If that's socialism, Glady heartily approved. All politics may be local, but I believe they are also personal. When you see the evidence of a program that works, statistics and graphs become people and stories. And at less than a month away from a national election, my hope is that everyone could make an effort to see what we all have in common rather than what separates us. Vote your conscience instead of the party line. Vote on the side of generosity rather than greed. People instead of corporations.