Category Archives: Family

>Highs And Lows

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It was a weekend of highs and lows, and CostCo.

The highs were the weather, which was just lovely all weekend long, allowing for the last bits of winter to be swept away. 
Another high was the arrival of a package from my father, who is planning a move from Smallerville, Oregon to EvenSmallerville, Washington this month, and was cleaning out his house in preparation. He had asked each of his three kids if there was anything specific they wanted form the house, and was kind enough to provide a list of Mom-and-Dad items.

Now, I am not a keeper of things. I don’t like having a lot of stuff, especially stuff I don’t use or need, so there wasn’t a lot on the list that I wanted. Except for an Anniversary Clock that belonged to my parents. I have my Grandmother’s–my father’s mother–Anniversary Clock, and I liked the idea of a pair of them, so Dad sent it along this weekend.

He also sent a set of Little Leather Library Corporation books that had belonged to his grandfather, my Great-grandfather, that I have always loved, along with some Christmas ornaments my mother had made over the years.

I must admit, it was a bit of a weepy feeling, seeing those things that my mother had painted, but I am going to love hanging them our tree next Christmas. It’ll be a little more like having my Mom around.

Dad also sent a history of my mother’s family that my Aunt Norma had accumulated and written. I didn’t know a lot about my mother’s family, probably due to an ugly incident in the 1940’s that involved infidelity and a murder trial–I may tell this story one day on the blog–but it’s interesting to read the stories about them. The funniest part was the story of my grandfather, on Mom’s side, being just two pounds when he was born, and being kept warm in a shoe-box near the stove. Seriously.

Of course, having this package, with these pictures and stories, arrive the day before Mother’s Day was a bit unnerving. I had odd dreams that night and kept thinking of my Mom almost constantly as we moved through the day. I’ve always said that, after one loses a parent or loved one, it does get easier, but it never gets better, and yesterday was one of those days that wasn’t easy or better. I did get some lovely news from my Dad about an upcoming event in his life that made me smile. My father is getting remarried to a woman he worked with a local aquarium near his town, and they will wed May 21st, in a quiet ceremony in Oregon. Carlos and I will visit them in Washington sometime in August once they’re settled.

It makes me smile to think, after my mother died, and I spent a great deal of time worrying about my father’s survival, that he has found someone with whom to share his life. I learned at my parent’s knees that all you really get in life is happiness and you have to know when to grab it. And I remember that day, nearly eleven years ago, when  I was moving from California to Florida to start my life with Carlos, when my father hugged me at the airport and whispered, ‘Be happy.’
And I am, and now I get to wish him that same sentiment.
Oy, did this turn sappy all of the sudden or what? 
So, let me end with this tale: At CostCo, between his snack bites, Carlos picked out a new office chair to buy, an ErgoNomic Something-or-Other. And all the way home he kept muttering that he bought me a new chair. I quickly reminded him that he bought us a new chair because the old chair had broken.
“If a man who is over six-feet-tall needs a couple of pillows to stuff in a chair so he can see the computer screen, then the new chair isn’t a gift but a necessity.”

And how was your weekend?

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Filed under Bob, Carlos, Dad, Family, Happiness, Mom, Sadness

>Just For Giggles: My Sister Is Not Gonna Like This

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My sister is what you might call gullible.

Okay, she is gullible, no might about it.

True story: a few years ago, when I was out west visiting family, she asked how come I never look any older, and I politely, and rightly, explained, that The Gays are forbidden to age at the same rate as, well, Breeders.

She looked at me……she was ready to buy it….and then I laughed.

Gullible.

True story: when we were kids we lived in Sacramento, and every so often we’d take a family trip into San Francisco for the day. As we drove along Interstate 80, we passed though the low, sloping hills along the valley side of the coast range, where  a herd of cows could always be seen grazing.

As we passed the cows, my father told a story of how those particular cows are specially bred to graze along hillsides; the legs on one side of their bodies are shorter than the other, so they don’t tip over on the hills. My dad said they simply walk around the hills, their shorter legs uphill, longer legs downhill, and graze in circles.

They are called Hill Cows, my dad said.

We all laughed.

Several years later–and by years I really mean years–we were on another trek to The City, and my sister had brought along a friend. Once more we passed the herd of cows grazing on the hillsides and my sister solemnly told her best girlfriend about the Specially Bred Hill Cows made for grazing on hillsides without tipping over.

Oh.Yes.She.Did.

We all howled at her, again and again, in fact, I’m laughing about it again today.

So, what does all this have to do with that picture up there? The one I spotted earlier today on Froggy’s blog?

Well, out in California, on those same hills where the Hill Cows graze, there are windmills. And once, after the Hill Cow incident, my father tried convincing my sister that they are called windmill farms because the windmills are grown there.

And she almost bought it, until we spotted a cow grazing on a hillside…..

6 Comments

Filed under Dad, Family, Froggy, My Sister, Tall Tales

>Mom

>This is an annual repost.
I’ll be taking the day off from blogging to remember a truly wonderful woman.
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Here it is, another of those “anniversaries” that you don’t celebrate, and yet don’t ever forget.

My Mom died of cancer four years ago today, and, while, as I’ve always said, it never gets easier, it does somehow get better.

As a child, we believe all sorts of things. We believe bunny rabbits sneak into our houses and leave money under our pillows in an exchange for an old tooth; we believe reindeer fly and an old guy in a red suit can come down your chimney–even if you don’t have a chimney–bearing gifts.

And we believe our parents will live forever.

But as we grow, we learn the truth about bunnies with coins, and Santa Claus. We realize that many of our childhood wishes and dreams are just that, wishes and dreams, but, somehow, we still believe our parents will live forever.

And they don’t.

I sit in my kitchen and I can picture my Mom across the table from me even though she never saw this house. If I hear a funny joke I hear her laughter. When I’m making dinner for Carlos and me, and I make enough to feed a family of ten, I think of my Mom and how she always made extra for leftovers.

Leftovers.

Leftover memories, but no new ones. And that’s the scary part. I’ll have no new memories of my Mom. So, today, especially, I’ll remember the good memories of my Mom.

I’ll remember how she ended every phone call with Bye bye sweetie, I love you.

I’ll remember her smile. and her laugh. And how she’d say, in mock surprise, Bobby! every time I said or did something crazy.

I’ll remember the time she died her hair platinum blond and I thought she was the most beautiful woman on earth.

And I’ll remember her with no hair, undergoing cancer treatment and still thinking she was the most beautiful woman on earth.

I’ll remember being in school on a cold rainy day and knowing that Mom would be home making Clam Chowder. The best chowder ever.

I’ll remember my Mom pushing a snowblower around the deck at their house in Blue Canyon.

I’ll remember coffee and crossword puzzles. Housecoats.

I’ll remember our Day After Awards Show phone calls when we’d compare notes over who won, who wore what, and who we liked and didn’t like.

I’ll remember how she loved to paint, and how we have some of her work in our house now, and how proud I feel when people say they like it.

I’ll remember how she welcomed Carlos into the family like he’d been there all along.

I’ll remember how much she loved my Dad, and her kids, and her friends, and her dogs.

I’ll remember Thanksgiving, with Mom doing all the cooking, and how much she loved doing that for her family and friends. 

I’ll remember being there on that day, four years ago, when she left us, and feeling  grateful to have had her for as I long as I did, and feeling loved, and feeling happy that she was peaceful again.

I’ll just remember.

I love you, Mom.

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Filed under Anniversary, Bob, Family, Mom

>This Gives Me Hope

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I have five nieces, all wonderful, all lovely, all special.

But one of them, Ashley, is going to Mexico this month with her church to help build houses for a family that doesn’t have a home. She sent Carlos and me a letter, asking if we could help her church with the expenses for them to take this journey, and we sent some money to them.
This morning, on Facebook, Ashley sent me a message. I don’t think she’d mind if I share it:


Subject: Thank You!
I got your money yesterday. I will be sending a more appropriate thank you once i return from Mexico, but I really want to thank you and Uncle Carlos for what you have done for me. Not just with this, although you two are definitely a blessing, but for everything. I look at my flute and think of Uncle Carlos and how amazing you both are. Thank you for loving me and loving each other. It is inspiring to me. I’ll send you pictures when I get back. I love you Uncle Bobby.


See, I read the news too much, and then post about it and rant about it and fume about it. Kids bullying kids; kids arbitrarily using the words “faggot” and “gay” to mean something stupid or bad.
And then I get this, from my niece, and it instills the hope in me, once again, that things will indeed get better.
I love you, too, Ashley.
Have a fabulous trip.

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Filed under Ashley, FaceBook, Family, Uncategorized

>National Coming Out Day

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Well, I’m out.

Everywhere. Work, friends, family, the neighbors. The checkers at Kroger. I don’t think I keep it a secret at all.

Now, of course, that doesn’t mean it‘s easy, nor that it’s been easy. I struggled with coming out when I was younger like almost gay person struggled. I remember specifically the day my mother asked if I was gay. Well, I wasn’t ready to say Yes, so I almost shouted No, and then left my parent’s home. I didn’t come back for a few months because I was angry and hurt and ashamed.

I had no idea what they would think or say or do, but I was ashamed that I hadn’t said Yes that day. I was angry that my mother had to ask; I was hurt that I couldn’t be honest.

So, why couldn’t I have said Yes that day? 

Simply put, I wasn’t ready. And you–and I’m talking to you–need to come out when you’re damned good and ready. But when you do, and it will take time coming out to everyone, you will feel the weight lifted. You will feel like you should have done it long ago.

Yes, even if your friends turn their backs. You’ll find new friends.

And, yes, even if your family turns their backs. That can be hard, feeling your family pull away. But then you can create your own, new family. Gay people often create their own families–if their biological ones aren’t quite so accepting, so open–and you’ll get to make the family of your dreams, who will love you, and better still, like you, for simply being you.

It does get better. And it gets easier.

And the more of us that are out, the less afraid people will be.

I remember when Carlos and I first moved to Smallville. I was worried about small town South Carolina because I’d lived in Miami and California before that, and it was easiER, not easy, to come out in places where there are more liberal thinkers.

So, when someone asked why I had moved to Smallville from Miami, I jokingly asked, Have you ever been to Miami? Then I muttered something about hurricanes causing me–I didn’t say us–to move, and that was partly true. But I felt that same old sense of shame creeping over me again, whenever i would say me instead of we; and I didn’t want to go back to that, no matter how small the town.

So, the next time someone asked what brought me to South Carolina, I simply said, My partner got a job offer up here and we were ready to move away from hurricanes.

Imagine my surprise, when the next thing I heard was: Oh, what does he do?

It’s simple. I was out again.

And it does make things easier. There isn’t that pause before you answer, so you can form a non-gender-specific response. It’s still Carlos and I. There isn’t that awkward moment when someone asks what your wife does, and I say, Well, my husband works for…..

It does get better. It does get easier.

So, if you aren’t out, come out. If you’re ready. If you aren’t ready, that’s okay, but I can guarantee you that it’s fine to be gay.

in fact, it’s downright fabulous.

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Filed under Bob, Carlos, Coming Out, Family, LGBT

>For Beth and Ken and Their Family

>For Beth, of Nutwood Junction, and Ken, of Bucko’s World, as you prepare to say your last goodbyes to your Dad, remember the time, and the laughter and the tears.

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Filed under Family, Love

>Feliz Cumpleaños Tia Gloria!

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Today is Tia Gloria’s birthday.

She is, technically, Carlos’ aunt, but she has been an aunt to me ever since I met her almost ten years ago. I had flown to Miami to meet Carlos face-to-face, and, while he had to work a few days during my trip, Tia Gloria took me around Miami. We ate at La Carreta, one of he favorite places, we drove to Homestead, we took an airboat ride through the Everglades. She took me to lunch at The Breakers in Palm Beach, and she ordered a Kamikaze.

I liked her instantly.

One of my favorite Tia stories was when I was visiting Miami, and Carlos and seven, yes, seven, cats. One of them, a bitch of a Calico called Spunky, was dubbed “The Mean One,” and one day, as I headed downstairs for breakfast I met Spunky on the stairs and scooped her up, and upside down, into my arms. When I entered the dining room Tia Gloria came out of the kitchen, saw me with Spunky, and exclaimed, “Charlie! Look! He has The Monster!”

Tia retired and moved back to Mexico City but we still have emails and phone calls and pictures and visits. I love to sit back and watch her and her friend Luz Maria cooking in the kitchen; like a well-oiled machine. And the food? Oy! Fantastic.

So, I’ll take a moment to wish my friend, my drinking buddy, my Miami tour guide, my Tia, a Feliz Cumpleaños!

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Filed under Birthday, Family, Tia Gloria