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Archive for November, 2012

I understand I’m not the first child to have buried both of their parents; it’s just that this is the first Holiday in which this is the reality for me. My father passed in July of 2010, and I buried my mother 5 days ago. The realization of what this means has finally come home to roost in my head and in my heart.

I’m basically an orphan; for that is what a child is who has no parents. For whatever reason, no matter your age; when your parents are no longer with you – you are an orphan.

I’ve spent this Thanksgiving morning remembering…  Mother, Dad, Aunts, Uncles, Grandfathers, cousins with whom I have shared a Thanksgiving meal throughout my life. Sweet, funny, precious relatives who no longer walk on this earth, who made me laugh, taught me to cook, insisted I read, and made me a fan of the Washington Redskins for the entirety of my life. Those Thanksgiving with them have been long gone, but on this Thanksgiving morning I feel the sadness of not having these people in my life more than ever.

I wonder… Is Mother with all of these people on this day? Are they gathered around a table somewhere oohing and ahhing over Aunt Jean’s turkey? Is there a mincemeat pie for my father, are they singing campfires songs as they do the dishes, and is Uncle Mike enjoying his 7 and 7 as he watches the Redskins play? Is there 40’s music playing quietly in the background, and are they sitting around the table drinking their coffee out of bone china cups reserved strictly for Holidays?  I think about these things.

Susan and I have a wonderful family – There are kids and grand-kids and lots of love to go around. We gather together, we eat too much, we watch the games, we spoil the children – it’s a traditional Thanksgiving. I’m blessed to have such a family.

I am also blessed to have friends in my life who love me and support me – no matter what.  They have been there for me with calls and texts and messages and love and hugs. Their kindness and compassion assure me daily of all that is right and good with the world. I can’t imagine my life without these people – these friends – in it.

Still – the reality on this Thanksgiving morning that I am an orphan is a new obstacle that I have to face.  Granted, it’s an obstacle that every child has to endure and learn to negotiate on their own terms, however, this is now my reality – my obstacle – my life.

Just because these relatives have died – have I stopped being a daughter?  A Granddaughter?  A niece?  A cousin?  I think about these things and I wonder…

Tomorrow with be better and the day after that better still – The reality is that our lives can be over in the blink of an eye – we must live every moment and be thankful every day. Orphaned or not – Life goes on, and I have so much to be thankful for…

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I just spent a week in the bosom of my family – not by choice – but because my mother passed away suddenly and I went home to honor her memory and lay her to rest beside her Mother and Father.

To be clear – most of my family has no idea who I am.  I left the place of my birth and the people with whom I share a blood connection over 30 years ago, and most of them don’t understand why I left or why on earth I haven’t returned! In their minds-eye I’m whatever age they remember me being before I left the little village we called home.

Also, to be clear –

The discussion of my being gay seems to permeate conversations whenever I’m around some of these people with whom I share DNA. I don’t know why – it fascinates and sickens them at the same time.  I was hopeful since I was there to bury my mother they might lighten up on such things and simply let me mourn in some sort of peace the week I was there.

I was wrong.  Throughout the week – this was my experience:

I was told that my family loved me and that they wanted me to make an effort to be a part of the family once again.  They didn’t understand the whole “gay” thing, and they still believe it’s a choice I made, and the Bible still says it’s wrong – but – they want me to feel welcome and loved…

Yes sir – warm and fuzzy – that’s how I was feeling.

For the sake of peace and harmony – I tried to hug one of the Bible relatives to thank her for bringing a desert to the church for my mother’s service, only to have her recoil like I had a gun to her head. She couldn’t look at me and walked past my partner Susan as if she didn’t even exist.

Oh yes – welcomed and loved – I was feeling it.

I was also informed that there was no way they were going to stop eating at Chick-Fil-A and if that upset me – well that was too bad.  Besides – why should I care where they eat they asked me.  They don’t care where I eat. Even after Susan explained to them where the money goes and what the money does – They informed us that they wouldn’t be giving up their chicken sandwich, waffle fries and sweet tea for nobody!

And – by the way – why do I have to write so much about gay issues? And why am I making such a big deal out of it? And – Why do we gay people have big parades and our own Oreo cookie?

Lord… Give me strength.

I came to the sad realization that there are members of my family who are just hate-filled people who believe that their religion gives them the absolute right to treat me with no respect and condemn my sick little soul to hell.  So be it.  Condemn away…

I also came to the sad realization that there are members of my family who are content to stay un-educated and ignorant to the fact that there is a world that exists outside of the confines of their little village. A world filled with wonder and excitement and diversity.  A world where stuffing isn’t considered a vegetable and going to Chick-Fil-A isn’t considered a night on the town!

On the other hand – I came to understand that there are members of my family who love me with no strings attached. They love me for me; they hugged me to death and comforted me and made me feel safe. There was no talk of Chick-Fil-A or anything gay – I was simply cared for in the most loving of ways.

And my sweet home-town friends who were there for me – no questions asked, with smiles and hugs and more love than I could have imagined. These are friends of the heart – not friends of the road.

The world is filled with the Chick-Fil-A eating crowd – Bless them – and let them go.  I won’t stop writing or marching or protesting their ignorance no matter how they wish that I would – and that gay Oreo cookie? I’d send a case to every Chick-Fil-A loving member of my family – if the cookie really existed!

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