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Posts Tagged ‘Love’

You know how you sit around a Thanksgiving table and someone inevitably forces you to say what you’re thankful for? I hate that. The moment the thankfulness begins, I feel my stomach start to reject all the food I just stuffed into it. It’s always the same thing as you go around the table: family, jobs, shelter… Not that these aren’t things to be thankful for, but I think we say what we believe we should be saying. If I were honest, I would have said: Cadbury Chocolate (the real stuff from England, not that fake stuff from Hershey’s), whoopie pies, pants with elastic waistbands, and my iPad mini!
But this Thanksgiving is different. This year has brought many changes into my life. Some are welcomed changes that should have happened long ago, some – well, some were not so welcomed. When Susan got sick in August, everything changed. It’s not like she got sick and then got better – she’s sick every single day. It’s a daily process, a daily understanding of how precious life really is. Every day is a gift. We don’t take it for granted, we’re grateful for every moment. It’s taught me not to look back, but rather to live in the here and now. We’re not promised more than that, so… we choose to be happy with what we have. Right here, right now. Of course, we haven’t given up the whole going back to Paris thing, so there’s always that…
Tomorrow when Susan and I carve up our turkey, and she inevitably asks what I’m thankful for I will honestly say to her the following: I’m thankful for you, for the doctors who saved your life and continue to keep you alive. For family, for my friends (who are also my family and surround me with love, acceptance and laughter). For love, for time, for the courage to let go of people who only brought negative things into my life. For sunrises and sunsets. For the birds who bring me such joy on our patio.  For Tawn Battiste’s whoopie pies in my freezer, for pants with elastic waistbands, and yes, for my iPad mini!
Happy Thanksgiving.

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Saturday, July 16, 2016 was the annual San Diego Pride Parade – or as it’s known at our house – Reaffirmation Day!

Pride Parades are always a day filled with joy and love. It’s a day of singing and hugging and making new friends, and letting my soul be renewed in its gayness as I touch that big gay flag at the end of the parade.

But this year – this year was different.

This year it wasn’t just those of us watching that needed to be there. Those who were walking in the parade needed to be there also. They needed their souls to be renewed, they needed to be seen, they needed to be loved. It was like nothing I had ever seen before.

I had a San Diego Police Officer come over to me and take my hands and in hers and thank me for being there, for supporting them. Seriously? Through tears I told this woman: “No, thank you for being here for us.” There was a hug – and then she was gone.  My heart was just full.

There were over a hundred people marching under the Qualcomm banner. Cheering and waving with smiles of pure joy on their faces.

Walmart, HP, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, The San Diego Padres, Harrah’s all there – all marching – all waving, all proud to be human beings not being judged or in fear of losing their jobs.

A high school marching band made up of gay kids from schools all over the county – marching and basking in the glow of the roar of the crowd as they passed by.  No fear of rejection or bullying or condemnation. Just love – lots of love.

Military personal – Army, Navy, Marines, Airforce, Coast Guard – all under the American flag, all walking tall and proud with some tears streaming down their faces.

Police, Firefighters, Sheriffs, Highway Patrol – all walking, riding, waving, hugging, smiling – all joyful.

Almost 4 hours of churches, businesses, politicians, community services walking, waving, singing, hugging, laughing, loving…

This is what happens when no one is forced to hide. This joy is what happens when people are accepted for who they are. This love is what happens when there is no fear of rejection, no thought of discrimination, no laws that divide us one from the other.

Whatever your political leanings may be, I simply ask that before you tick any box this November – you think about what can happen when people come together in love and the knowledge and acceptance that we are our brother’s keepers. It’s not about black or white or Hispanic or whatever ethnicity you may be. It’s not about being a Christian or Muslim or Jewish or whatever religion you may or may not follow. It’s not about gay or straight or transgendered. It’s not about men and women. It’s about the human race. It’s about all of us sharing this life we are blessed to be living.

Your thoughts should not be about hate and walls and guns and laws that divide us one from the other. Your thoughts should be about what you can do to unite us as a people, what you can do to make things better for you, for your neighbor, what you can do to stop discrimination, what you can do make peace in your family, in your community, in your own life.

For me, my peace is grabbing that big gay flag at the end of the parade. That’s where I promise myself to never look back, to never go back, to never settle, to help where I can, to hug and love and keep talking and writing until I’m no longer able to do so.

And grabbing that big gay flag is about love. My love for Susan, for my kids, for my grand kids, for my brother, my nephews and their wives and their families. For my friends, who are also my family, I want the world to be kind to them, I want them to grow up in a world where they are free to be whoever it is they are. Not who or what the world thinks they should be – but who they are.

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On July 16th I will celebrate my 14th San Diego Pride Parade. I remember my first Pride Parade in 2002 like it was yesterday.

I was 49 years old, still mostly in the big gay closet, but trying really hard to make myself understand it was okay to swing that closet door open. I had made a mess of my life, and I was finally on the way to making it not quite so messy.

I was with the woman I was meant to be with, but… One foot was still firmly ensconced in that closet.  That closet of wondering how many members of my family will walk away, how many friends will I lose, how do I possibly tell my parents, how do I live my life without having to lie? 

This Parade was like nothing I had ever seen, and as it was coming to an end, my sweet Susan told me I needed to go get under the big gay flag. As it came around the corner I went out onto the street and I grabbed on to that big gay flag, and my emotions just overtook me. I cried tears I didn’t even know I had. It was the turning point in my life. I’ve never looked back; and I’ve never again questioned who I am or wondered if my life had any meaning.

I go out onto the street when I see that big gay flag coming around the corner and I reach up and grab on to it every year. I cry tears of relief and happiness and joy that I had this Pride Parade to show me that my life had meaning – that I mattered – that there were people just like me who suffered and agonized with all the same fears and feelings I had.

For those of you who may wonder if Gay Pride still matters, I can tell you from personal experience – Yes, it most certainly matters.

It matters because we, as a people, ­­­matter.

It matters because there will always be those who are trying to swing that closet door open and find a safe, accepting world to step out in to.

It matters because a Father won’t claim his dead sons body from the worst mass shooting in the United States because his son is gay.

It matters because laws are made specifically to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans.

It matters because politicians still spew hate-filled rhetoric against us to garner votes.

It matters because LGBTQ kids are homeless and alone and need to know their lives matter.

It matters because some religions preach a gospel of hate and loathing.

It matters because – well because every life matters.   Period.

If you are lucky enough to go to a Pride Parade and they have that big gay flag at the end – embrace it.  Let it float over you and surround you with love and peace and joy in who you are and know that your life matters. 

If there is no Pride Parade where you are, know in your heart of hearts that you are surrounded by a big gay flag. Know you are loved. Know that your life matters.

Every life matters.

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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’ve spent some time thinking about the whole Kim Davis-Wallace-McIntyre-Davis / Pope thing.  I wanted to just go off and vent, but…  I took the higher road and just let the whole thing play out.

Now, there is the: Well the Pope met with his gay friend thing, and the Pope never asked to meet with Mrs. Davis-Wallace-McIntyre-Davis thing, and it’s an Archbishop who liked Pope Benedict and wanted Pope Francis to look bad thing.  It’s like a scene out of the halls of a Junior High School.

Blah, Blah, Blah…

It’s left me to wonder a few things.

  • When does religion trump friendship?

I ask because Pope Francis called to meet with his gay friend, and yet – in the religious world in which he is the head – he doesn’t welcome his friend, he doesn’t honor his friend, and he would never officiate at the marriage of his friend.  So – he’s his friend, but he has conditions on that friendship.

Is that really being a friend? The whole I love you, but I can’t support your wanting to marry the person you love, and you’re not really accepted in my church thing – Is that really a friendship based on love, respect, compassion? Is that really a “I’ll be there for you” sort of friendship?

  • When does religion make lying okay?

I ask this because Mrs. Davis-Wallace-McIntyre-Davis has these lawyers who are affiliated with Liberty University Law School/Jerry Falwell Ministries.  They have outright lied, been caught in the lies, and yet continue to lie.

They have an agenda, an anti-gay agenda, and they stop at nothing to continue their quest against the homosexual. Sort of like a crusade.  What sort of religion is that?

I have many more questions, but mainly I wonder why these folks who profess to be Christians don’t follow their Jesus.  Not the dogma of their church or the beliefs of their hate-filled leaders – but their Jesus.

I mean, if you have to follow someone, why can’t you follow the Jesus who loved and respected everyone. The Jesus who walked among the dregs of society and washed their feet and blessed them and told his disciples:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

I don’t see any conditions there, any judgments, any restrictions. And yes, I know there are other rules from Jesus, but really – isn’t this one the most important?

Why do people insist on making it so very complicated?

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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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So, here I am – this baby booming, white woman wondering what it is I can say about the unrest in America that will not upset anyone on any level.

Seems to me – no matter what I might say, someone will take it wrong and before I can blink an eye, feelings are hurt, words are spoken, and there is more chaos, more anger, more dissent  in a world already filled with way too much anger and intolerance.

Let me simply say this; I grieve for America. I grieve for all of us. Every age, every religion, every race, every gender, every sex, every political party, every protestor, every mom, every child; every single one of us.

For the thing that unites us is that we are all Americans – and this – this is the thing we all tend to forget from time to time. We are all Americans.

Is the bar equal for all of us?  Absolutely not – but that doesn’t make anyone more of an American than another.

I can’t sit here and say I understand the life of an African American living in the neighborhood called “The Avenue” in Baltimore, MD.  I’m a 62-year-old white woman living in a nice neighborhood in San Diego, CA. What on earth can I possibly know of their life? It would be wrong of me to even speculate on any of it.

What I can sit here and say is simply this; “I’m sorry.” I’m sorry people in your American feel it’s okay to judge who you are by the color of your skin, or who you love, or what you believe, or where you live, or how much money you have – or don’t have. I’m sorry you feel unwanted, unloved and unheard in an America where every citizen is supposed to have an equal voice. I’m sorry politicians are more concerned about money and power than they are about doing the work of the people. I’m sorry.

The bottom line for me is this – I treat every single person I meet with dignity and respect. I am not a bigot – I am tolerant – (I’m a lesbian – I understand and know what intolerance looks and feels like). I try and send into the world a feeling of love and acceptance, even when I really don’t understand because it’s not my job to judge –

It’s my job to love…

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