This February, I got my first ever summons for jury duty. It's amazing I've lived these many decades without being summoned. My first reaction was negative. Why now? I'm too busy! However, I knew I had no choice, so I made peace with it. Then I got my appearance dates. The first was cancelled. My second was not.
A funny thing happened on my way to the courthouse. I thought about my mother. Not my mother with dementia. Not my mother with her head sliced open from one of her weekly falls. Not my mother who scolded me for doing for her just what she'd asked me to do the day before.
No, I thought about my mother as she was when she was whole. I remembered the dedicated woman who, during election times, trudged neighborhoods carting VOTE signs to put in yards. I remembered my mother who canvassed neighborhoods to acquire funding for public television. I remembered my mother who worked voting booths and - yes - enjoyed jury duty. She considered it what it is, a civic duty, and she was very pleased to do her part.
Granted, my mother didn't work a full-time out-of-home job. But she was a caregiver. My grandma lived with us. Yes, Grandma could be left alone for short times. And Mom had me to pitch in. But still, she had responsibilities. But she was determined to do her civic duty. She did so with pride, even excitement.
As I sat in what amounts to church pews (cushioned, thank God) in the polished courtroom, and witnessed the procedure of jury choice, I was a bit ashamed that I had been so reluctant to be a part of what makes this country what it is. Inconvenient? Yes. Impossible? No. What was the big deal?
I had to clear my work schedule the best I could. I had to forego the laptop I have glued to my arm whenever I need to wait anywhere for more than five minutes. I had to figure out where (after three tries) to park my car. I had to get through security. But once I sat in the chambers, and became part of the process, my whole attitude changed. I felt very privileged to be there - so much so that though I went in hoping I would not get picked (I didn't), I left wishing I could stay and watch the whole process of the trial.
I thought of my mother a lot as I waited. How she felt good about doing all civic things. And I vowed that I would, in this way, try to be more like her. Through it all, I was in a grateful mode. I knew this was partof the healing process for me. Of getting my real mother back. I was remembering her as she was for a good part of her life - my real mom before disease and pain took away so much of her essence. I felt her with me, smiling, and saying, "See, this is part of being a grown-up. Part of living our freedom."
Published On: March 05, 2007