A Legacy of Staying Informed

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Susan Dromey Heeter, Joyful Musings


My grandmother had one of those standing ashtrays, the kind that allowed her to sit in her massive chair and smoke. All day.

She smoked Lark cigarettes that had strange, triangulated filters. I know this because I stole a few, I began my smoking career at ten with my father’s Chesterfields. Unfiltered.

  I was fond of Newports in high school and then experimented with my grandmother’s Larks.  I did not enjoy them but very much enjoyed the 80-year-old woman who smoked them.

And I muse joyfully today on Gertrude, who was not a grandmother who showed up to sports events or baked cookies but who watched the Watergate trials and invited me to watch them, too.

 She was entranced, engaged, hanging on every word.  I remember the trials vividly and, as there are investigations being televised today, I will honor my grandmother’s memory and watch them.

 I will not smoke, as, mercifully, I quit decades ago. But I will muse joyfully on democracy, on a system that works, on a media attempting to make clear events, actions, fools.

My grandfather served in World War 1.  When I write that, I feel as though I should be adjusting my bonnet and ironing my pinafore.  But, he did and his sons also served in World War II, the Korean Conflict; he had grandsons who served in Vietnam.  My Uncle Doug was in Iwo Jima and earned not one but two Purple Hearts.  Stunning.

My mother and aunts all received degrees from the College of our Lady of the Elms. My grandmother was adamant her girls be educated, informed, prepared for a world dominated by fools, by dopes who hoped to believe their own foolish lies.

And as I watch and read and learn more of the investigations around January 6th, as I watch and read and learn more of the local operatives who support fools who believe themselves above the rule of law, of decency, of democracy, I will pause and inhale deeply – as if I had a Lark to my lips. I will muse joyfully on Gertrude and her legacy of staying informed, of staying informed, of encouraging me to do that same, at ten, at twenty, at fifty, at sixty. I muse joyfully you will as well.

Susan Dromey Heeter is a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white. Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.  Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards.

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