A Bleeding Heart

Someone recently told me I was a bleeding heart. I know about bleeding hearts because that’s what my dad used to call my mom when she was being too compassionate.

“Kaye, you’re just a bleeding heart liberal.” He’d say, even though in all the years they were married up until Dad’s fatal heart attack, my mom was a devoted conservative Republican just like him. For my father, being a Republican wasn’t politics, it was religion.

So you can imagine the scene when I turned twenty-one and came to my parents one day and told them; “Mom, Dad, I’ve become a Democrat.” From their reaction you’d have thought I said, “Mom, Dad, I’ve become a serial killer.” I’m not kidding. It caused a rift that took some time to heal. Eventually both of my conservative parents would come to love and accept my bleeding heart liberality.

Through the decades my mom was able to maintain old-time conservative Republican values and viewpoints while remaining attached to the rest of humanity. And yes, sometimes her heart would bleed for others. Maybe bleeding hearts are genetic.

I started thinking about a bleeding heart and, well, all hearts bleed. Hearts fill up with used blood and pump out new blood, maintaining and sustaining the organic health of the whole human being. Bleeding hearts are natural; a heart that doesn’t bleed is not. In fact, a heart that doesn’t bleed is dead. A bleeding heart is vitally connected to the whole, a non-bleeding heart isn’t. So if we all didn’t have bleeding hearts, we’d all be dead. I guess it’s all in how you look at it.

There’s no big ending to this bleeding heart story except that after decades of political devotion, during George W. Bush’s second term my sweet-faced-silver-haired-mom left the Republican party and became an Independent. She said she had to change her political affiliations because Republicans today are mean. She says, even Dad would agree.