The New Yorker – A Grandmother’s desperate choice

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Sometimes I come across an article or a story that doesn’t leave me alone. People I don’t know -and never will know- are all of a sudden on my mind for days. 

Since yesterday I think about Winifred, a woman who is dead since many years. Her story, told by her Granddaughter Kate, is particularly sad. Sad because nothing has changed. This could still happen today, and it disheartens me.

“She needed help really badly, and no one would help her, so she died,” that’s Kate’s conclusion at the very end.

Before I go posting part of the article here on my blog, I have to tell you that Grandmother Winifred died of a self-inflicted abortion. I am not pro-life, and I am not for abortion. However, I am pro-choice, and that is an interesting position coming from a woman like me, who longed to have children but couldn’t have them.

My own pain or my believes should not be ruling the lives of others.

As a child, I knew only that my grandmother had died when my mom was still a baby. The one time I asked what had happened to her, a bolt of panic flashed across my mother’s face. “A household accident,” was all she said.

I was twelve years old when she finally told me the truth. Some friends and I had got into a long after-school discussion about abortion, prompted by the gruesome posters that a protester had staked in front of the Planned Parenthood in our Vermont town. I had already begun reading my mother’s Ms. magazines cover to cover, but this was the first time I’d encountered a pro-life position. When I hopped into my mom’s car after school, I was buzzing with new ideas. I had almost finished repeating one friend’s pro-life argument when I saw the look on Mom’s face. That’s when she told me: the “household accident” that had killed her mother had, in fact, been a self-induced abortion.

 Her hands were tight on the steering wheel as she spoke. I realized later that it wasn’t the topic of abortion itself that made her so uneasy—she was a nurse and a Roe-era feminist who usually responded straightforwardly to even the most embarrassing health questions. Rather, her anguish arose from sharing a truth that she’d been brought up believing was too terrible to speak.
Sitting beside her in the passenger seat, I struggled to absorb the meaning of what she’d told me. I had only just grasped what abortion was a few hours earlier, and was still trying on this new pro-life idea. “O.K.,” I said, “but what about the uncle or aunt I never had?” Mom whipped toward me, face taut with a rage and fear that I somehow understood had nothing to do with me. “What about the mother I never had?” she said.

Until recently, everything my mom knew about her mother fit into one three-ring binder. Inside were letters, documents, and photos that my mother had collected over the years. After the election last fall, as an Administration hostile to women’s reproductive rights settled into the White House, I asked her to send the binder to me, and did some sleuthing of my own. I got in touch with aging relatives and family friends, who offered crumbling bundles of my grandmother’s letters, carefully preserved for decades. My questions about her life and death hadn’t changed since I was twelve years old. What felt new, in the Trump era, was the urgency of her story.

My grandmother, Winifred Haynes Mayer, was born in New York City, in 1912, to an upper-middle-class family. Her father, a doctor, spent time in France during the First World War, helping set up orphanages, and returned to the U.S. in love with a Frenchwoman and seeking a divorce. Win and her brother were raised in the Bronx by their mother, Nyesie, a nurse.

Please read the rest of the article here at The New Yorker. Regardless of what your position is, this is a must read. I dare you!

I challenge you even further. Forget politics for a moment, forget the other side and all that bullshit that we are being fed on a daily base. Judge as a human being only, because if you do, then you will realize that our lives just can’t be pushed in a drawer. Left and right and all this nonsense should vanish when real lives are at stake. And while there might be no solution that will please all, there has to be the possibility of a compromise that leaves room for individuals.

And now, please forgive me my harsh words and go and finish the article!


Thank you, Kate Daloz for writing this and a thank you to “The New Yorker” for publishing it.

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14 thoughts on “The New Yorker – A Grandmother’s desperate choice

  1. Religion, Human Rights, and Women’s Rights are all about power. Human and Women’s Rights are being wielded as a weapon to keep the ignorant, the minorities, and women oppressed. I genuinely believe that the goal of this administration is to keep the masses poor, uninformed, and afraid …. because there is no other meaningful explanation for their decisions, lack of empathy, and outright mean-spirited actions.

    The stance of the right-wing Conservation is so hypocritical, it’s an appalling joke. If their Pro-Life position was so important, then every life would be sacred and protected at all costs. Those billions of dollars spent on their war machine would be redirected into the highest quality of health care and education for everyone in the country. Funny – I don’t see that happening.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Winifred’s Desperate Choice: Live Or Die. – The Militant Negro™

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