Lost Someone to MAGA?
By Pie & Chai
As we wrote in our last issue, we’ve all had relationships strained, damaged, or even lost as loved ones tumbled down the MAGA hole, or, god help them and us, fell over the QAnon cliff. We invited readers to send us stories about people they love (or once loved)–something about these loved ones readers remember fondly, or that they miss, or that they always appreciated: an anecdote, a moment, a description from that other time, that previous life. Something that still shows through. A pentimento. We thought perhaps sharing these stories would help the rest of us as we contemplate those people in our own lives who seem to be out of reach, standing way over there with their MAGA and their conspiracy theories and their fierce resentments on the other side of this great divide.
Several readers responded, taking us up as well on our invitation to keep their friends, and themselves, anonymous. We asked that contributors try to keep their essays to under 200 words (though we also promised not to be too persnickety about length). These submissions have been lightly edited with that in mind, mostly for clarity in a few places. If you’d still like to submit your own story, feel free to email us at email@example.com or just click on the “Only Connect” button in the header and we’ll print them in a future issue of PIE & CHAI.
She still gets up every morning and goes to work doing home health care. She loves her patients and cares about them, and when we used to talk, she talked about them a lot. She was a single parent and put herself through college (with a lot of family help). She had several relationships with several terrible guys, every one worse than the one before. But she kept at it—her education, raising her own children, now the home health nursing, which in many ways is more like hospice care. She used to vote the values I thought we shared. Now she’s married and seems to be voting somebody else’s. I know that happens. I’ve known plenty of women who seemed to shift — or let go of — their own beliefs after getting married. But I didn’t think she’d be one of them.
A STAND-UP GUY
One of our friends, B., left the town we lived in right after high school in southwest Virginia and moved to Washington. He’d hidden the fact that he was gay the whole time we knew him growing up. This was a long time ago, back in the 80s. B. came back home several years later, really sick with this disease people were just then hearing about which was AIDS. He moved back into his old bedroom at his parents’ house. Most people avoided him once they found out. Hardly anybody visited. All except M., who went to see B. pretty regularly, whenever he was in town and not traveling for his work. M. did that all the way up to the end. He went to B’s funeral, too, when not too many other people did. M. would still do anything for just about anybody who needed it. He’s a good guy like that. But I still don’t know how a “good” guy could be such a big Trump supporter.
PRETTY AND KIND
I remember the first time I saw C. It was during morning break our senior year of high school. She was wearing a green peasant dress and desert boots. I think she had French-braided her hair. Being as pretty as she was, she didn’t have to do much or say much or be much for everybody to notice her and want to be around her. But she was really kind, too. Not stuck up like a lot of those girls back then, the pretty ones, the ones that knew they were pretty. But not C. She did things like weave garlands from wild flowers and give them to people, for no reason. Her family was in the country club, but she refused to go there because she said it was too snooty. But then there were the drugs, and after that a religious cult she and her boyfriend fell into. Things must have spiraled from there. She’s not the same anymore. She posted about going to a Trump rally during the campaign and how excited she was to get to meet some of his people.
IN THE GARDEN
My cousin K. was the sweetest little boy. He loved stories and all sports, and he also loved to go out in the garden with our grandmother and weed and water and spread mulch and hoe and harvest what they grew. He loved all of his grandparents and was always happy to go over and do things they needed doing when they got older. I hope he’s gardening with his own kids these days. He doesn’t believe in the Covid vaccine, and only got it because he had to for his job. Grandma had been active in the Civil Rights Movement. She passed away before Trump happened. I’m glad she wasn’t around any more when K. started plastering his car with MAGA bumper stickers. He’s says it’s about being patriotic, but I think he’s been brainwashed by Fox News.