On July 11, my father, a stroke survivor, had his first heart attack, so we were glad we had decided to stay in Minnesota a second year. My husband, our children, and I lived in Augusta or Martinez for 19 years. I worked for the Army and Health Depart-ment and Safe Communities Coalition Augusta until 2003. We plan to return someday.
In July, the Bush/Cheney regional field director for southern Minnesota asked if I would chair the campaign in my county. This is a swing state, and we live in a swing county. Up to this point, my political involvement had involved two hours of door-knocking with Sue Bur-meister a few years ago, and serving as a delegate this year to the district and state conventions because others were too busy.
Yet, amazingly, I was one of six people selected in southern Minnesota to greet President Bush in Mankato Aug. 4. The six of us lined up behind the huge constructed stage at a quarry where 7,000 pre-ticketed people pressed together like sardines. I had mentally practiced my handshake the night before, but couldn't decide what I would say. The reserved culture here solidified my resolve to present my hand.
We stood in our self-organized line about 10 minutes hoping for a briefing. Two helicopters landed. The young businessman in front of me, who pays for billboards declaring "Bush Country," informed me that President Bush hugged his mother a year ago. My mind whirled, "What if the women behind me don't expect to hug him just because I don't? If a hug is kosher why would I not oblige and let those behind me?"
Within a couple minutes, the shorter-than-I-expected president shook the man's hand and they spoke a couple sentences. Next, he reached to hug me. After our two or three sentences, he stooped to pick up my woven, summer-sale handbag I had tried to conceal in the dirt behind me.
"Don't forget your purse," he quipped as he handed it to me, and continued in the line to the man behind me. Don't ask me what he said to anyone after the purse deal.
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