The memory is still sharp. Clear. Painful.
I don’t think my brother Fred ever hurt my feelings as much as he did when he laughed at me that day. When, as a 4- or 5-year old I shouted at him:
“You’ll be sorry when I wake up DEAD.”
Instead of being cowed, well, Fred laughed at me. I was devastated. Confused. I didn’t understand what was so funny. Later he explained it to me:
“Lease,” he said patiently, “You can’t ‘wake up dead’!”
“Because if you’re dead, Lease, you don’t wake up. You can’t. Cause you’re DEAD.”
It was the first time I understood that I had done something incredibly stupid. I learned my lesson, though. Never again did I threaten anyone with the possibility that I’d wake up dead.
So imagine my surprise when I read about high school nurse Terry Collins in this article. I learned that I wasn’t so dumb back then after all.
You see, Ms. Collins woke up dead one day. Yeah, it’s true! She got a letter saying that she was taken off the voter registration list because she is dead. She was quite surprised because, well, she felt just fine! Coincidentally, her 80-year old father was equally surprised when he got a similar letter. He had woken up dead, too! Even more coincidentally, they are both African-Americans registered to vote in Texas! Or they were until they woke up dead in a state where the Governor is a Republican and the legislature is run by the GOP.
Apparently, there is an epidemic in Texas. An epidemic of waking up dead! And the number of folks who are caught up in this, umm, problem? According to NPR, there are about 80,000 Texas voters who woke up one day and found out via the US mail that they were dead. Most are African American or Hispanic. Imagine that, they were members of minorities who tend to favor Democrats, and they woke up dead.
I’m calling Fred. He’ll be so sorry he made fun of me.
* * *
The creativity of the folks who try to keep others from voting is quite impressive. If only they used it to govern, the U.S. might be in much better shape today.