The Last Four Years


You may or may not be surprised to know that I was here when the news came across my phone that more votes had been counted, and Pennsylvania had been called for president-elect Joe Biden, finally putting paid to Donald Trump. This is the northern end of Kipling Avenue, a short stretch of road north of Steeles Avenue that the TTC uses to access a turning loop for its buses. I've been able to cope with the fact that I can't ride public transit anymore, until a COVID vaccine becomes available (fingers crossed!) by occasionally going into my old home town and photographing and videoing public transit vehicles from a socially responsible distance, while wearing a mask.

It felt good to know that Donald Trump had been defeated, and it was especially good to see the joyous reaction throughout Twitter and my Facebook feed. The sun was shining, I was doing something I loved, and nearly 75 million Americans stood up to defeat the nearly 70 million who decided they were okay with the last four years of racist cruelty and flagrant incompetence. A good day, at last.

While I was joyful, I was not overjoyed, perhaps because I had a cautious optimism throughout the week that most Americans were going to do the right thing, and that Trump, in the end a coward as well as a bully, would end with a whimper rather than a bang. Things could still happen to change that, but since the Four Seasons Total Landscaping incident, I'm more confident and optimistic that this will be the case.

This week, however, I've come to realize how much the election four years ago is tied up with more personal bad news that was delivered soon after. This Sunday will be the fourth anniversary of my mother's diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. She passed on January 7, 2017.

So many people have called 2020 a bad year, given the COVID-19 pandemic, that it seems quaint to remember when we thought 2016 was the worst year ever, with the death of celebrities like David Bowie and Leonard Cohen. But Trump's victory in the 2016 election topped all that. And the news of my mother's terminal cancer, for me, topped even that.

It's linked together because she was there when the news hit that Trump had won the presidency. It was a mental and spiritual blow, especially coupled with the news of all of the other incidents of rising nationalist politics throughout the world, from Bolisano to Brexit. The world did seem like it was catching on fire.

My mother passed before Trump actually became president, and while we could never have imagined how bad his presidency was going to be, we knew it would be bad. We knew the next four years were going to be tough.

And now they're over. There's a lot of work to do and a lot of mess to clean up, but at least we now have some hope that adults are in the room working to clean things up. I got to see this. And I'm sad that my mother did not. I wish I could tell her that I got to see this. I wish I could tell her that we made it through. There's still a lot of work to do, but now I have more hope that this work will be done.

At the end of Saturday's transit-fanning, I headed down to Harbourfront Centre, where I first heard the news about my mother four years ago. I wish she got to see this.


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