As the House of Representatives down in Washington, D.C. seemed poised to vote on repealing Obamacare, 15-year-old Brendan Delgado of New York was preparing to spend a half day off from school volunteering at a medical facility that bears an increasingly unlikely name.
“TRUMP,” read the big letters, followed by a smaller “Pavilion” on the front of this building at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens.
The name is in recognition not of Donald, but of his mother Mary Anne MacLeod Trump, who provided the funding for the original TRUMP Pavilion for Nursing and Rehabilitation in 1975. Her children—including Donald—were born at Jamaica Hospital and she was a prominent member of the Women’s Auxiliary there. She was known to be thrifty in other aspects of her life, sometimes going into the laundries at the TRUMP apartment buildings to see if anybody had left coins in the washing machines. But she was also known to be more than generous with both money and time when it came to the hospital.
Long after her death in 2000, Mary Anne continues to have a reputation as an actually good person.
“That’s what they say,” said Brendan Delgado’s mother, Maria, who works at TRUMP Pavilion.
She then posed a question that defies an answer.
She was asking how such a fine woman whose name rightly belongs on a healthcare facility could have a son such as Donald Trump. His latest sins include being happily ready to leave more than 20 million people without health insurance just so he could boast that he had made good on a rabble-rousing campaign promise to junk Obamacare. He had run into trouble in the House of Representatives because some moderate Republicans found what might be called Trumpcare too cruel and some conservatives found it not cruel enough.
Maria Delgado’s decency was manifest as she spoke smilingly about the 238-bed rehab facility named after Mary Anne Trump. She reported that the patients are generally content and unworried about insurance under the present system, which Donald Trump has been seeking to upend.
“It’s very homey, welcoming,” she said of TRUMP Pavilion, which specializes in the elderly.
And it only made sense that Maria’s teenage son was as manifestly decent as his mom. He thinks he might want to design computer games when he gets older and presently harbors no ambitions in the medical field, so he is not resumé building when he spends what time he can spare volunteering at the pavilion.
“Just help out,” he said. “Just go in and help out.”
With that, he proceeded inside with his mother, who had beamed with justified pride when describing her son’s efforts to do good for no other reward than doing it. The TRUMP on the front of the building continued to attest to the decency of Mary Anne, which continued to pose the question of what she might have felt having Donald for a son.
Mary Ann sometimes told a story that began with her giving Donald and his brother Robert each an equal number of Legos when they were little boys. She recalled that Donald asked to borrow Robert’s Legos so he could build a high tower. Robert agreed, but when he went to recollect them he discovered that Donald had glued together all the Legos.
When Donald grew old enough to use concrete and steel, he continued to build with nobody but himself in mind. The only buildings that bore TRUMP in his honor were ones that he named himself after himself. His idea of charitable giving was to make money off it.
Whatever Mary Ann might have privately thought of all this, Donald was still her son and she offered no public criticism. Donald, on his part, remained unmoved by the example she set with the TRUMP Pavilion. The only significant philanthropy that bore his name is Donald J. Trump State Park, so christened at his insistence when he donated 436 acres to New York for which he had paid $2 million and declared to be worth $100 million, thereby making himself eligible for tens of millions of dollars in tax deductions.
The TRUMP at Jamaica Hospital was retained in continued recognition of Mary Anne when the pavilion was replaced by a new slightly larger and considerably cheerier one around the corner in 2009. It was still the TRUMP Pavilion even though the funding was provided not by her family but by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That is the agency whose budget Donald Trump proposes to slash by $6 billion, ending altogether the community development program that built this very facility.
Just before noon on Friday, a nurse emerged from the TRUMP Pavilion and affirmed Maria Delgado’s sunny description of health care there under the present system.
“It is a good place,” the nurse said. “Caring staff. They take care of the patients.”
Down in Washington, Mary Anne’s son was making a final push to get a repeal of Obamacare through the House of Representatives. His self-avowed genius as a deal maker failed him and around 3 p.m. he told Speaker of the House Paul Ryan that he wanted to pull the bill.
“We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future,” Ryan said at a press conference, as if this were something to mourn.
Back up at the TRUMP Pavilion, Brendan Delgado was helping out on his half day off from a high school named after our second president, John Adams.
Young Brendan was making his mom rightly proud by doing good for the sake of doing it in the happy facility named after a benefactor who is somehow the mom of the man who is somehow our 45th president.