UPDATED, Jan. 2, 12:40 p.m.: Cecil McClary has died.
The photo that emerged from Lovely Warren’s swearing-in ceremony yesterday certainly wasn’t typical.
The soon-to-be mayor took the oath in a hospital room, her bedridden grandfather by her side.
Warren’s grandfather, Cecil McClary, suffered a stroke on Christmas Eve and is in palliative care at Strong. He was a significant presence during Warren’s formative years and Warren names him as a mentor and as the reason she entered politics. She understandably wanted him at the inaugural.
Reaction to the photo has been mixed. Many praise Warren for including her grandfather. But others say the image of the gravely ill McClary is ghoulish, and some even accused Warren of using a sick relative for political gain.
But here’s the thing: this is what an elderly man who has suffered a severe stroke looks like. It’s not pleasant. Sickness never is.
It’s human nature to want to push distasteful things away. And we’ve gotten very good at compartmentalizing things we’d rather not look at: illness, violence, poverty, old age. We blame people in these states for their circumstances, and sometimes they blame themselves; elderly people often seem embarrassed
that they’ve gotten old.
But when we shove things into the dark corners, it becomes much too easy to discount, to ignore, and to dehumanize. Gun violence? Oh, that’s not our problem. That’s those people
in the inner city.
Cecil McClary is just a man who aged — as we all will — and suffered a severe medical episode – as we all might. But acknowledging that means acknowledging that we are mortal. And that’s terrifying.