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These are my thoughts: Feb 8, 2017.

“Nevertheless, She Persisted.”
If I were to have a gravestone, that’s what I would want engraved on it. In BIG BOLD LETTERS.

My mother was a strong, stubborn woman; just not when it came to women’s issues. She didn’t believe a woman belonged in politics, in the military, in the ministry, in the cockpit of a plane. Her list of what women should never do went on and on and on.

She had no time for the Gloria Steinem’s of the world. She would say: Be a secretary, a seamstress, a housewife, a teacher, a mother…

I can remember how thrilled I was when Geraldine Ferraro was put on the Democratic ticket. I can also remember vividly how my brother mocked her, and me, and how my mother agreed that she had no place in politics.

I don’t know where my sense of feminism came from. I was raised in a family where men could do or say anything, and women simply cooked the meals, did the laundry, raised the children and tried to keep the status quo.

This wasn’t me – ever. It drove my mother nuts!

As I do my DNA/Ancestry research I’m seeing some strong women who most certainly were not secretaries or housewives. Perhaps it is simply in my DNA to not settle for less than what it is I deserve as a human being.

Now, I’m in my 60’s and living openly as a lesbian. My partner of 34 years and I march and blog and do whatever we can for our share, and every other woman’s share, of dignity in Trump’s America. We also march,blog and do what we can for gay rights, but that’s a whole other blog!

It’s not about gay or straight, and I wish it wasn’t about Republican or Democrat. It should be about women being treated with respect. It’s about men who don’t value a woman and women who simply accept that as what their life is. We need women to value their life more, value their feelings more, value their worth more.

“She Was Warned… Nevertheless, She Persisted.”

As one does…

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Susan and I went to a funeral yesterday. It’s not something one looks forward to, but a sweet friend had lost her Father, and we wanted to be there to lend our support and love for our friend and her family.

Our friends father (Bill) was a very sweet man. We didn’t’ meet him until the rages of Alzheimer’s had taken over his body and his mind; and yet his sweetness shown through.

I had an inkling this funeral was going to be different when we arrived at the church and there were white chairs set up outside. They were placed on a hillside with beautiful green grass surrounded by trees and flowers with a view of the San Diego Bay that was simply breath-taking. I’d never been to an outside funeral, but after today, I can’t imagine any other way of honoring a loved one.

From those who spoke, I soon understood this was a man who was loving and was loved his entire life. His wife, his children, his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Love, love, love. He loved being outside, loved camping, loved sunsets, loved ice cream and coffee, and loved being the family “tickle monster.”

One of his daughters started to speak about his courage and how he emphasized to her the importance of being still, and it was in that moment I found my mind began to wonder.

I began to think of the death of my parents. My dad in 2010 and Mother in 2012.  I thought of the lessons they had taught me, and what it is I still miss about them.  Some days the image of them is so clear I swear they are walking right beside me. Other days, I don’t feel them at all.  It’s those moments when I am “being still” that I feel them most of all. When I have my tea in the afternoon, sitting quietly on my patio watching the birds, sitting by the San Diego Bay knowing how much my parents loved to sit in the same spot some 30 years ago.  Dad’s ashes are scattered in this Bay so that every US Navy ship that goes in and out of San Diego has to pass over him.

The thing is, I never understood my parents – ever. I thought of this today as Bill’s children and grandchildren were speaking of him so lovingly.  I never understood some of my parent’s decisions, their beliefs, their grudges, their never wanting to talk of anything.  So many things were left unsaid, unsettled, unknown. I love them, I just wish…

I left this funeral with the understanding that life is most certainly meant to be lived. It’s meant to be shared with those who love you unconditionally. You’re meant to be still, to be tickled. You’re meant to watch the sunset, and eat ice cream and drink coffee. You’re meant to laugh and love and share your thoughts and dreams and desires .You’re meant to make memories that will carry on long after you’ve gone. This is what your life is supposed to be.

We walked away from the service on that beautiful hill to the Reception Hall where an ice cream social in honor of Bill awaited us.  Ice Cream, every topping you could think of, whipped cream, cherries, nuts, cookies and coffee. For the first time ever, I left a funeral feeling upbeat and hopeful.

As a side note – the pastor who spoke at the funeral had a voice that simply drew me in. She was kind and compassionate, and spoke in a way that wasn’t condescending or judgmental.  As the pastor was speaking, I leaned over to Susan and said: “If anyone could get me back to church, I think it might be her,”  And it’s been many years since I’ve spent any amount of time in a church.

Bill must have been smiling knowing that I had been still and was listening.

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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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It’s been two years today since my father passed away.  I’m wondering exactly where those two years went – and more to the point – I’m wondering if I have kept the promises I made to myself as I sat staring at his casket on that warm July afternoon.

I promised myself I would take care of Mother the best I could. I would make sure she got the care she needed and I would try to be there emotionally for her as much as possible.

Mother has since passed – but I did my best to fulfill that promise to myself to take care of her. She lived in a wonderful home that I wish everyone with dementia could experience. Her level of care was extraordinary, and more than I could have ever, ever given her, and she died peaceful and in no pain.

I also promised myself I would try to find a way to make peace with my brother and somehow get him into my life. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do that – but he was really all I had left as far as immediate family and I was determined on that July afternoon I was going to find a way.

My father died not speaking to my brother – as did my mother – and I was not going to let that be the end of my family. I don’t really know their story –for our family never did communicate. I only know there was no closure for any of them.

A great many things have happened in those two years since I sat staring at my father’s casket. Mother has passed, friends have passed, the world has gotten a little warmer, and politics continue to divide a nation as we all struggle to find our way. There have been floods and tornadoes and storms which have taken homes and schools and hospitals. There have been shootings and bombings and Wars which have taken the lives of way too many Americans. One life is too many – at least this is how I feel.

There have also been in those two years sweet little babies born and towns rebuilt and families reunited from the end of one war. Freedom to marry has come to same-sex couples; a new heir to the British Throne has been born to continue that unbroken line for longer than I will ever see.  Life most surely goes on – this much I have learned.

As I sat staring at the casket which held the remains of my mother – my brother was by my side. I put my head on his shoulder and he squeezed me a little harder. He was kind and thoughtful and strong and supportive. He was everything a sister would want her big brother to be.

I can pick up the phone and dial his number – and he’s there, the sound of his voice comforts me – makes me feel so not alone on days when “family” seems so much a thing of my youth.

I like it when I make a promise to myself – and keep it…

I have a brother…

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I decided this morning that it was time to clear out my voice mails. You know what I’m talking about – all those calls that go to voice mail and you never listen to them, you just see the number and call the people back. Plus all the ones you started to listen to then stopped and never hit delete. All of those messages that one has to listen to in order to hear the one new message that is waiting for you.

I made myself a fresh cup of coffee, sat in my comfy chair, hit the speakerphone button on my phone and dialed my voicemail. The first voice I hear coming through my phone is my fathers. My father passed away almost 3 years ago, and his voice was certainly not something I was prepared for. I hit the resave button, all the while telling myself I would deal with that one later.  The next message brought my mother’s voice into the room. Mother passed away last November, and I most certainly was not expecting nor was I prepared for her voice to fill the room. My father chimed in with her, and I was frozen in time.

I wanted to hit the resave button, but I found myself frozen in my chair, tears running down my face unable to move, and instead of resave, I hit the number on my phone which would make the message replay.

I closed my eyes and let their voices take me to another time. Not necessarily a better or happier time, just another time. A time when I had parents who were alive and I wasn’t that person who was nobody’s baby. A time when I was a daughter and a sister and a cousin; and even if things were complicated – I belonged to a family.

I decided to just let my grief and my tears come.  Grief is a very strange thing – it comes upon me like a wave and I know that I must simply let it be what it is. To fight and say I’m okay – well – it’s useless – for I am most certainly not okay.

I feel lost – although I know I am not – I feel alone – which I most certainly am not – and I feel somehow out of sync with the world – which at this moment – I most certainly am.

I hit the number on my phone which resaves my messages, sit back in my rocker and as I taste the salt from my tears – I smile.  For one brief moment – I was once again a daughter and I was – for a moment in time – somebody’s baby…

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Mother’s Day – I knew it was coming – The reminders have bombarded my email inbox for a few weeks now.  Proflowers has been reminding me of Mother’s favorite bouquet – and did I know I haven’t sent her any flowers in a while?  See’s candy reminded me that her favorite assortment was the dark chocolate nuts and chews variety – did I want the 2lb box to make her really happy this Mother’s Day?

My mother passed away on November 11, 2012.  I know I’m not alone in my grief on this Mother’s Day; millions of people no longer have their Mother. Still – this is my mother and this is my grief.

Most of us have issues with our Mothers. In some form of other we like to blame our Mothers for the issues we have with men, or commitment, or love – or the lack thereof in our lives.  If only she had loved me more – or treated me the way she treated my brother. If only she had hugged me more or praised me more or encouraged me more.  If only…

I can’t speak for anyone else; I can only speak for myself and my mother.   No matter the relationship – the fact remains that she is no longer at the other end of the phone, and I no longer get those cards signed “Love and Prayers, Mom.”  I can no longer call and ask her questions about family or history or family recipes, I pick up the phone sometimes when I don’t feel well and I just want to hear my mother’s voice – then I remember she’s gone -and the tears flow down my cheeks.

I tried to not leave things unspoken before she passed – I knew there would never be another chance to get it right with her. The last time I saw her – I knew in my heart it was going to be the last time I saw her. She had dementia and it was progressing – but the one thing she could still focus on was family. So, I set up my computer and we spent 3 days looking at the same files on ancestry.com. She would get something in her head, and I would try my best to find her that information. She was happy, she was smiling, she was laughing – and this is how I have chosen to remember her.

I’ve also decided to not blame my mother for what I consider to be my faults. I mean – I buried her the day before my 60th Birthday – and it seemed foolish for a 60 year old woman to still be blaming her Mommy for her problems. It is after all – my life and not my mothers. At some point in my life, the mistakes became my mistakes, regrets were my responsibility, and makings amends was all on me. I grew up – as we all are meant to do.

My mother lost her Mother when she was 9. She didn’t have the time with her Mother to learn about what relationships between Mothers and daughters should be. I know now – she did the best she could. I’m going to focus on the good things she passed on to me – Love of Country, love of history, the desire to travel, her love of cooking, the need to read, and how she could never sit and do nothing – her hands were always busy – as are mine.

And I remember her telling me how much she always wanted to be a writer…   This one’s for you Mom – Happy Mother’s Day.

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I found out that a classmate of mine from High School passed away last week.  I haven’t seen him since graduation some 42 years ago, but I remember him quite vividly.  He was smart, funny and kind and he was the best Conrad Birdie in our adaptation of Bye Bye Birdie. His last name started with a G, mine with an H, so we shared a homeroom all through high school. He could always make me laugh which always started my day out with a smile.

He died doing the things he loved and he was surrounded by people who he loved and who loved him. I’d like to think that is some sort of comfort for all of those who were instrumental in making his life good, and for him as he left this place we call home.

His death brought home to me the fact that life is quite fleeting. You’re here one moment, and then you’re gone and I found myself pondering forgiveness.  I was thinking of one high school friend in particular who was in my life for a very long time. My husband and I were quite close with this person and her husband. We traveled together, laughed together, cried together, she was like the sister I never had, so I decided to trust her with my deepest secret – that I was gay – and she betrayed that trust by telling my husband. Life as I knew it ended on that day. I never asked her why she chose to betray me in such a way; I simply walked away and never spoke to her again.

In some respects, she did me a huge favor and opened the conversation that has finally allowed me to live openly as a lesbian; however, I have never understood or forgiven her betrayal. Today I wondered if this was perhaps the moment to forgive her in my heart.

Then I started to wonder if it was this one-time friend I wanted to forgive or if perhaps I was the one who needed to be forgiven.

Our lives are lived in moments. Moments in time, moments when words are spoken that can never be taken back, moments when decisions are made and lives are changed forever. I’m not sure when the moment was exactly when I knew I was gay, I’ve just always known. It wasn’t a decision I made, in fact I made the decision to be someone else. That decision to not live the life I was meant to live for so many years is the decision that needs to be forgiven.

No one told me I had to stay in my marriage. Then again, no one told me I didn’t, including myself. I stayed because I didn’t know what else to do. My husband was a perfectly nice man, and we were friends, but I was never in love with him, and he certainly deserved more from me than he got. Yes, I understand he could have left me at any time, and I don’t know about his regrets, we never talked about it.  I just know I’ve carried my regrets with me for over 40 years. This is the moment to forgive myself. He has remarried – to my cousin – and from all accounts is quite happy. Let’s just let it be.

I’m not sure when the moment was when I knew I would never, ever be what my mother wanted me to be, I just always knew there would be no grandchildren springing from my loins. I always felt I let her down that I disappointed her in some way. I wasn’t the girl next door; I was the lesbian hiding in the closet.  We never discussed it just as we never discussed anything, and I was always left to wonder what my mother would have said about my being a lesbian.  I know now almost 60 years into my life that it was me who harbored anger about having lived a life secluded in a little town surrounded by an unforgiving family who demanded I keep my place in the family as the “funny one.”  It wasn’t my mother’s fault or my families – the blame lies with me. This is the moment to forgive myself.

I’m not sure when the moment was I decided that I should be in an abusive relationship, or how I reasoned in my mind that I could change this persons behavior, I only know I should have taken more time to think it through.  I do recall the moment when I said to myself: “You’re in trouble here,” and realized that I had to find a way out. I may have realized I needed to get out, however in a moment of “I’m so sorry, I won’t do it again,” and the “I really will stop drinking” moment, I stayed. If not for a job that I loved and people who cared for me and lifted my self-esteem, and mainly – if not for Susan – I’m not exactly sure where I would be or what sort of shape I would be in. I put myself through hell but I survived and I’m better and happier and stronger than I ever dreamed possible.  I need to forgive myself for falling into the “No one will ever love you” pit.

Life indeed is made up of moments – This is the moment I say ‘I forgive you’ to the image I see in the mirror, and I move on. It’s the moments of here and now that are to be lived to the fullest for in a moment, any moment – it can all be gone.

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