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Archive for the ‘Grandchildren’ Category

Each of us have moments that are life affirming. Moments that make you understand why you’re here, and exactly what it is that matters in your life.  Yesterday I had one of those moments…

I was standing in the mist, at a fence, waiting with my camera in hand for my granddaughter Courtney to walk into her college graduation. Waiting to capture that moment with her proudly wearing her cap and gown, living in the moment for which she had worked so very hard.

As I waited for her, I found myself thinking about my life; this life that had brought me to this fence – to this misty moment. It wasn’t an easy journey getting here; and yet this life that I live now is the easiest thing I have ever done.

For those who have lived a lie – you know of what I’m speaking when I say that life is not always what it seems. I spent years pretending I wasn’t gay; when in fact I knew I was gay from the moment I understood what gay was. I’ll save the whole life story thing for another time; just let me say it flashed before my eyes as I was waiting for Courtney to come into view.

The one thing that was clear to me was that my life was meant to have Susan in it.  It’s been 33 years, and still I know she was, and is, the love of my life.

Without Susan – I would have never been waiting for Courtney. I’m not really sure where I would have been, but it wouldn’t have been at that fence waiting for this most special of moments.

Without Susan – I wouldn’t have these children and these grandchildren who have blessed my life, keep me young and fill me with a certain kind of love I never knew existed.

Without Susan -I would never have understood the importance of living a life that’s honest and open. I would never have understood that any other sort of life isn’t really a life at all – it’s only a dream; an illusion of life.

Without Susan – I would have missed so much of what is right and good about living, about loving, about struggling, about putting down roots and watching them grow into these beautiful things called children and grandchildren.

I was pondering all these deep things when I looked up and saw this beautiful smile and saw Courtney waving at me. I wiped away the tears, focused my camera and snapped the shots we’ve all waited years to capture.

I walked back to where Susan and the rest of our family was seated and sat down, weary from all the emotion. Susan put her arm around me and asked: “Did you get to see her? Did you get the shots?”  I smiled at her and said: “Yes, and so much more…”

Life?  It’s about love – that’s it.  Love…

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When the top story on my news-feed is about how different Renee Zellweger’s face looks – I know it’s time to shut all my electronics off and try and have myself a zen moment.

Is this really who we’ve become? Is this truly who we are as a people?  We don’t write or talk about curing cancer, we don’t write or talk about the struggles with Alzheimer’s, we don’t write or talk about how we are still at war – and our soldiers are still dying.

We don’t write or talk about how children in the United States of America go to bed hungry, go to school hungry, and live every day, hungry.  I’m not talking about another country here – I’m talking The United States of America…

We don’t write or talk about the inequities of the American people – but we will write and talk about who is to blame for these inequities that only seem to exist in the minds of the dreaded “do-gooders.”

Elections in this country are no longer about who is the best person for the job. They are about who has the most money, and who is willing to do the best job at trashing their opponent.  They are no longer “free” elections when millions of people are prevented from voting because of redistricting or photo ID’s or some other form of “poll taxing.”

But – our free press is not writing or talking about these things. These things don’t sell papers or magazines.

The people who write and publish – well, they only write and publish the things that make them money.   You know – Renee Zellweger’s face, and Kim Kardashian’s buttocks.

When did we stop caring about one another and what we will leave for our children and our children’s children?   When did it become more important that the Giudice’s are going to jail than a child going to school hungry? Seriously – when did entertainment overtake caring about our own humanity?

Personally, I don’t believe my grandchildren’s children will care about the face of Renee Zellweger. It may be more important to their survival that the air is clean and the water is safe to drink and people still have a moral code that doesn’t revolve around how one looks, but rather revolves around how one treats others.

Just sayin…

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I was informed by an email awhile back that my family wasn’t a “real” family. The woman who wrote me this email went on to explain that my family couldn’t possibly be a “real” family because I’m a homosexual. God would never deem to allow me to have a loving family since I am a sinner in the largest sense of the word.

Susan, my partner of 33 years has 4 children and in the course of those 33 years – her children have also become my children. I love them – I worry about them – I support them – all the things that Mothers feel for their children – I feel for these 4 children.

Along with the children have come spouses and grandchildren and pets and friends. Girlfriends and boyfriends and proms and graduations. School plays and competitions and dressing as angels and wise men in Christmas pageants at church. Weddings and divorces and fights and hugs and love and yelling and laughing and adventures in Las Vegas! Standing in front of Stonehenge crying on my sons shoulder, sitting with my daughter in a courtroom trying to be the strong one for her and my grandchildren. Picking kids up at school, driving all over town to find just the right gift…

Does any of this sound like a real family to you?

Sitting at my daughters house yesterday laughing with the grand-kids and just enjoying all the love in the room – I understood how blessed I was to be surrounded by this family that makes my heart so happy.

I thought of the woman who wrote me that vile email and I sort of felt sorry for her – sort of.  I feel sorry she will never understand or accept the love that flows through our family. I feel sorry that she will never, ever know the joy of loving someone for who they are – and I’m sorry that her “faith” is such that she is filled with such loathing.

I’m sorry that she doesn’t know that “family” is all about the people who love you and accept you and support you – no matter what. It’s not always about blood – it’s about love. Sometimes the whole blood thing is just too complicated and way too judgmental. I don’t know why that is – I don’t know why the people you want to love you the most just can’t… or won’t…

I never thought I wanted to be a Mother – I never thought I’d be a very good Mother… I was wrong – on both counts.  I love these children and grandchildren more than they will ever know – I hope they know they can count on me – I hope they know the joy they have brought into my life, I hope they know how they fill my heart with such joy just being in the same room with them. I tell them – I just hope they know.

That vile, email woman is wrong…   2 Mothers – 2 Grandmothers loving you, supporting you, accepting you, baking for you…   Who doesn’t need that?   Who doesn’t want that?

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So – I am less than three weeks from my 60th Birthday.  Of course, on my Birthday last year Susan informed me that I was now in my 60th year, so I’ve had a year to prepare!  Still – I’m not really sure I am prepared…

Birthdays have never bothered me – all 59 of them. They come and they go, it’s just pretty much another day on the calendar – but… 60 – it has me a little pensive.  Perhaps it’s because all these goodies have started to come in the mail for me – Things I obviously need when turning 60.  Medicare, AARP, Hearing Aids, Cremation information, Burial Plots, Life Insurance…  Or perhaps it’s because I am aware that more of my life is behind me than in front of me.

Whatever it is, I’ve been musing about what it is I know for sure at 60.  You know life lessons I’ve learned through the muck and mire that has sometimes been my life so far.

Here – in no particular order – are things I would tell my Grandchildren – if they ever asked me what it is I’ve learned about life in my 60 years.

  • People are not always who or what you want them to be.  If you think you have to change them – you don’t need them. Walk away.
  • Don’t ever start smoking – then you won’t ever have to quit.
  • Read Henry David Thoreau’s essay entitled: Civil Disobedience
  • Follow your passion – don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t; don’t let anyone tell you it’s stupid or worthless. Do what you love.
  • Spend time by the water; be it the ocean or a lake or a creek.  Just put your feet in the water and understand that you don’t ever put your feet in the same water twice. It’s always new, always changing, just like your life should be.
  • Don’t settle – for anything or anyone.
  • Work for the common good – remember that we really are our brothers keepers – no matter what the Republicans say – we really are responsible for one another.
  • Do not be forced into any sort of religion. Believe what you must to get you through the days and nights of your life. Know that there are many religions in the world – they all matter and they all have their place. Not one of them is more important than any other of them.
  • Know that all people matter – all people everywhere.  All colors, all genders, all races, all religions – all people – everywhere. We all have a purpose on this earth.
  • Know that the Double Stuffed Oreo trumps all other cookies ever made.
  • Parents are not perfect – and sometimes they don’t always know what is best for you. Follow your heart.
  • Understand that your family may not always be loving and kind or accepting. It’s okay to not want to be a part of something that is negative and hateful and destroys who you are.  Carry no ill-will – just walk away.
  • Rosemary Clooney is one of the best singers who ever lived…  Google her – and then listen to her sing the song – “I’ll Be Seeing You.”
  • Don’t ever let anyone take away your individuality – When you give that away – you give away your life – no one is worth that – no one.
  • Don’t ever think you can’t live alone. It may not be your choice – but don’t ever believe you must have someone in your life to survive. Sometimes living with yourself will teach you more lessons than you could ever imagine.
  • Never stay in a relationship because it’s convenient or because you feel trapped. There is always a way out – always.  This is tied in to the never settle piece of advice.
  • Watch the movie “Rhinestone” and know it was the worst movie your Grandma ever saw.
  • Read and learn your American History. Please understand that you must know where you’ve come from in order to know where it is you’re going.
  • Don’t be so busy with your life that you miss it.  By this I mean – don’t be so busy trying to get things that you don’t take the time to enjoy what you already have.
  • Don’t let your family dictate who you are.  You don’t have to fit into any mold – you simply are who you are.
  • Travel the world.  When you stand by the Eiffel Tower – know that your Grandma’s cried with joy when they were standing there for the first time.
  • Knows that dreams can come true – Read the lines above about the Eiffel Tower!
  • Don’t listen to all the Irish malarkey that Grandma Susan will fill your head with.  leprechaun’s are not good little men – they are evil little men and there is no gold at the end of the rainbow.
  • Don’t ever expect someone to make your life complete. You are the only one who can complete your life.
  • Never, ever give up on you. Never ever stop growing and changing and learning.
  • Know that your life can be over in the blink of an eye. Be responsible and cautious and don’t do foolish things that can endanger your life or the life of others.
  • Don’t let your fears prevent you from living your life. Nothing is so bad that it can’t be overcome.
  • Don’t spend your time saying:    “If only I… “    Spend your time saying:  “When I did…”
  • Know that for as long as I’m alive – there will be a place for you to go – for food, a hug,  a little spending money if you need it, someone to listen, and lots and lots of love – always.

Wonder what else I’ll know by the time I’m 80?

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I read a comment on an article I had written about the Romney / Ryan ticket and their stand on their opposition to gay marriage.

   marriage IS about religion. If you don’t care about God why would you care about being married? Most people get married in a CHURCH, and then a preacher              wont marry them because it goes against what the Bible says.

I don’t know if this person is gay or straight, but they left a few other comments that showed their bias when it comes to issues that affect the gay community.  Let me enlighten this person and others who may be confused on the subject of marriage…

Marriage in the United States of America is NOT about religion.  The act of getting married to someone is not a religious act. It’s not based on any religion, any Bible, any book, any belief, any potion, any leader, nothing. One does not have to be religious to get married, and religious leaders do not have to preside over a marriage ceremony to make a marriage legal.  Religion has no legal influence on any marriage. You do not have to hear: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this company, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church: which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence…” to have your marriage be legal.

To be legally married in the United States you need a government-issued marriage license and a certificate of marriage. Period. This has nothing to do with religion – nothing. You can argue that it should have everything to do with religion if you’d like, but legally, it has nothing to do with marriage.

See the beauty of the First Amendment to the Constitution is that it prohibits the government from telling the many religious sects what the meaning of marriage is, AND it also stops the many religious sects from telling the government what the meaning of marriage is.  Well – allegedly, that’s what it was set up to do. This is where the problem begins and ends when it comes to marriage. – Religion.

I understand that there are some churches that do not now, and will never allow the concept of gay marriage to enter through their doors. Fine, I get that. I’ll leave you to worship whatever you chose to worship, I won’t try and close you down or picket outside your doors or give millions of dollars to politicians to keep you from your Constitutional rights as an American.  I’m not saying you have to accept gay marriage – I’m saying you have no legal right to ban it.

You don’t have to care about God, or even believe in a God to care about marriage.  If you need religion in your life to get you through the days and nights of what the world throws at you, then by all means you have the freedom to have your religion. Worship whatever god you believe sustains you and carry on with your life. Just try to understand that not everyone has to believe as you do, and live as you do.  However,  if your god and your pastor/priest/whatever doesn’t teach tolerance, understanding and loving one another, you might want to regroup and look elsewhere for your inner peace.

My partner Susan has been my wife in my heart for 30 years. She always has been, always will be.  Her children are my children, her grandchildren, my grandchildren.  We share a home, and all that goes with the daily struggle to survive.  We’ve been there for each other through the death of parents, friends, a grandchild, and pets. We’ve had good times, and bad times, we argue, we laugh, we cry, but mainly – we just love each other a little more every day.  Organized religion turned their back on us, so we looked inward and found our peace and our balance in the everyday living of life.

We have lived our life together without the benefit of a marriage license or a marriage certificate because here in the State of California millions of dollars were spent by the churches – Mormon and others – to make sure we couldn’t get married. They didn’t want us to ruin the sanctity of marriage… Well, we’re still together, so the churches have to keep fighting…

Marriage is about so much more than religion – so much more…

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My partner Susan and I were driving to the San Diego Zoo yesterday afternoon and we drove through the route of the San Diego Gay Pride Parade.  We started talking about maybe changing where we sit this year and in that conversation we then decided that we couldn’t do that because we’ve been sitting in the same spot for 10 years now and that kind of makes it a tradition!  I found as we were talking that my heart was just filled with emotion, and my spirit was lifted just remembering my first Pride Parade 10 years ago.

Gay Pride Parades aren’t just about gay men stomping about in tight short shorts and dykes riding their motorcycles in leather pants and no tops! Not that there’s anything wrong with either one of those things, and the motorcycles are certainly worth looking at, but, it’s really about so much more.

10 years ago, I was 50 years old. My life had been spent in hiding and had been filled with so many lies and so much hurt and anger, I never imagined there was a way out. More specifically, I never dreamed there was a way for me to come out.

But – there I was – this 50 year-old Lesbian, sitting on the corner of 6th and University in San Diego waiting to see my first-ever Pride Parade.  I was a stranger in a strange land – and yet I felt more at home on that street corner than I had ever felt in my home-town.

My move to San Diego and to Susan had been filled with doubts and fear and oddly,  this great sense of relief that I was finally away from most of my family who had then, and still have now, no tolerance for “the gays.” It goes against what they believe are their fine Christian values.  I had started a job here in San Diego at the La Jolla Playhouse that had placed me exactly where I needed to be to understand that being gay was not the end of the world – It was in fact the beginning of my life.  Friends like Candie, Thom, Terry, Jenny, Gigi – all openly gay – all living this life I had only dreamed of, showed me on a daily basis how life is just life and who you love and can never, ever be questioned or regulated.

Susan insisted that seeing the Gay Pride Parade would change my life and I remember thinking – really? A parade is going to change my life?   When the “Dykes on Bikes” came roaring up the street to lead-off the Parade – my small-town eyes flew wide open. I’d never seen anything like this in my 50 years, ever…

The Parade was filled with floats and bands and organizations walking the walk of gay pride openly, without fear.  Policeman, Firefighters, churches all showing pride and banners for tolerance and acceptance.  It was nothing I had ever seen or heard in my life.  I clapped, I laughed, I cried.  At the end of the Parade there is this huge rainbow flag that people put over their heads and walk under it down 6th avenue to Balboa Park.  The flag must cover a full city block. It was an amazing sight to see.  Susan insisted I get under this flag, grab hold of it and walk the remaining blocks to the Park. I whined – it was hot – I was tired – blah, blah, blah – Susan insisted.  The moment my hand touched that flag I started to cry, and I cried the entire way to the Park.  I cried for the 50 years that I lied about who I was, I cried for the freedom I was now feeling, I cried for the peace that had entered my heart, I cried for finally, finally understanding and accepting this person I had become, I cried and cried and cried.

Every year we go and sit in our spot on the corner of 6th and University. Our Granddaughter usually joins us along with our close friends, and neighbors.  We yell and run into the street and hug our friends who are marching with the military folks, and our friends who are walking with their church.  I laugh, and sing, and enjoy these few hours of peace and sweetness. At the end when that big rainbow flag comes down the street filled with people whose hands are holding on to that flag with tears running down their faces – I cry right along with them…  Susan was right; The Gay Pride Parade had changed my life.

Gay Pride Parades are about so much more than tight shorts and motorcycles…

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This is the time of year when we all are forced to travel down the road of High School Graduation.  Be it our own Grandchildren or shows on television, we are once again reminded of that fateful day when life as we knew it as children was over.

It’s been forty-two (42) years since I walked the walk to that never-ending Pomp and Circumstance March on a June night in 1970.  I always thought it would be so much better if the class marched in to Pomp and Circumstance but then walked out to the tunes of the year.  I suppose that walking out to “Play That Funky Music,” or “Disco Inferno” might have taken away from the dignity of the occasion… Then again, we all could have carried flowers and handed them out as we twirled our way out to Ray Steven’s singing “Everything is Beautiful.” I’m just sayin; there are ways to spruce up this whole process!

I really don’t dwell on the past all that much, but when I have to sit through one of these grueling ceremonies for hours, I find that my mind does tend to wander a bit.  I try to sneak in my Nook Color so I can at least read or enjoy a game of Angry Birds, but, Susan will give me one of those looks, like: “What are you 12?” and I understand that a 59-year-old woman should be setting some sort of example to her grandchildren who are not allowed to be playing games on their phones or whatever little electronic thing they have smuggled in, so I put it away.

I find myself thinking of teachers who put so much on the line to make me understand the importance of an education. I wish I would have listened more and talked less.  I wish I had the chance to sit with a few of them and just let them know they made a difference in my life.

My mind drifts to friends who have come and gone from my life. Sadly, the ink that signed “friends forever” in our yearbooks has outlasted most of these friendships. I understand now that this is one of life’s mysteries, never really to be understood. I lived in a small town and went through twelve years of school with the same friends.  From Junior High on I would spend every waking hour  with some of these friends – a few of them I spent so much time at their home and they at my home that each set of parents believe they have another child living with them. We screamed at the invisible ghosts and cried at the inevitable heartache, we discussed the did you or did you not do the whole “French Kissing” thing, and I absolutely could not imagine my life without these friends by my side or at the other end of the phone.  And then, in the blink of an eye, it’s over. I left the confines of our small town for college, others got married, others got jobs and stayed – life happened to us all.

I don’t have much contact with my high school friends.  There is a gaggle of us on Facebook who tend to make my days brighter simply just be being there, but , most of my High School friends remain that – High School Friends.  A different time, a different place, with sweet friends who were there when I needed them to be.  I used to believe that I had some sort of responsibility to keep these people in my life. I no longer believe this to be true.  I also used to wonder why I was no longer friends with these people. How could I just let them go out of my life, what sort of person does that?  Well, I’ve discovered that every sort of person does that – this is what life is, people coming and going from your life. Some come and stay a very long time, some come and go, and come and go, and some come; and then go forever.

I’m certainly not the same person I was in High School. I never had the strength or the courage to tell my family or  my friends I was gay.  Some tell me now it would have never mattered, but, we’ll never know that for sure.  It was 1970, and it was, and still is,  a small, rural, conservative Republican town. I was afraid and I felt alone, so I told no one. Well, the girl I was sneaking out to see knew, but that’s for an entirely different blog!

What I know for sure is this:  My life is exactly what it’s supposed to be. Had I made one small change, who knows where or who I would be at this very moment. Had I never gotten married I would have never moved to California, and that would have meant never meeting Susan, and that’s a road I don’t even want to think about traveling.  And what of the hard stuff in-between? Well, that’s just life; you get through it and life goes on.

So, in a few weeks when I’m sitting at my Grandson Cabot’s High School Graduation, I’ll be humming the tunes of the 1970’s in my head while listening to Pomp and Circumstance and handing Susan some tissue!

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