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March 29th, 2007

From a GLBT discussion forum I subscribe to: reflections on some postings about recognizing our relationships ...

"...and this is April's friend, Dorothy."

April's other grandmother died... "other grandmother" meaning not the paternal grandmother who lives with us, but her mother's mother. So Sunday and Monday we attended the wake and funeral. Gram had 4 kids, and 26 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, plus all of the various spouses. Lots of people.

April has never wanted to make a big deal out of her lifestyle—most of her family was not invited to our large commitment ceremony nine years ago... just her own two kids, her mom, her brother and his then-girlfriend.

And Sunday at the wake after yet another "and this is April's friend..." I tried to laugh it off, "Hey, nobody I would rather have for a friend than you. Will you be my *best* friend?" But over the two days of dealing with her family, I realized that it was really bothering me.

Her family introduces me as her friend, and April usually just says "And you remember Dorothy." I talked to her about it yesterday, and said that if she could tolerate being a little more out there about this, I would be a whole lot more comfortable with "and you remember my partner, Dorothy." She said that was fine... and now I wish I had gently pushed the issue a little sooner!

My friend Art had a really hard time coming out to his family. And this year with the deaths of his parents, I have gotten to meet most of the members of his extended family... including Aunt Nat and Aunt Helen, who have been together for fifty-some years. Now REALLY. Do we think that folks just compartmentalized them and never even thought about that relationship, so that Art's coming out was a New and Shocking thing for the family?

At one point we were talking about Aunt Nat, who is frequently called "Sully" just like Art's dad - although her last name is not Sullivan. Art said to his brother -- "What is Aunt Nat's last name?" And the brother replied immediately "and Aunt Helen." They have been a single unit in that family for five decades. (And they don't want to get married... we talked about it... they feel like it ain't broke and there's no reason to fix it!)

Anyhow, for some reason I'm mulling over all of this today, and it all seems so .... sad to me.

"...and this is Jay's friend, Julio"

My mom uses "Jay's friend" a lot when mentioning Julio to other people. He and I went to see her in Arizona for a little vacation this past week. She used "friend" when we met some of her friends out for dinner.

I'm very aware every time she does it and it does bug me a bit. But I also know she was excited for us to go to dinner with them. And I know that she does mention Julio a lot to her friends. And I feel like she's proud of us—or me—or him.

And this weekend when she was on the phone with someone back home, she said, "I'm here with my kids." Kids, plural, even though my brother wasn't there with us. And also this weekend while talking to Julio she referred to herself as his "mother-in-law."

So, yeah, it bugs me a bit when she says "friend". But her actions and other words speak louder than this one word so I'm willing to let it go. Plus, this weekend she introduced the two of us to a couple of other people, and, after introducing me, she paused a moment and said just "and this is Julio". I tried not to smile.

I wish I'd have had the guts to come out to my parents before they died in 1988—but then, that was a totally different (and not so good) part of my life. Not coming out to them is one of life's biggest regrets for me.

I envy anyone who can still enjoy the moments like Jay described. And I love hearing about them.

One of the best things my mother ever said

It was 1996. My sister was engaged and we were all making plans for the wedding. I had just gone through a hard breakup, and had moved from New York to Boston away from family and friends. I was feeling very disconnected, having a hard time getting into the mood for the wedding.

While home visiting in New Jersey, my mother and I were in the car going to the grocery store.

She said, "I just want you to know that when it is your turn to have a wedding ceremony, your father and I fully intend to support you.... and pay for it the same way we have done for your sisters."

In one sentence, she acknowledged my pain without having to talk about it, making a very sure, hopeful statement for the future of my love life, and an even bigger statement that in her eyes, any lifetime commitment I made to a partner would be exactly the same to her as the marriages of my sisters.

I'll never forget that.

I love your Mom.

It seems to me that, in the end, people just want to have their humanity acknowledged.



I'm thinking yesterday was Hump Day, not only for its usual idiomatic reason, but in terms of my health.

I woke up much better today, and thank &deity, because I don't know how much more my rib cage, or sternum, or whatever it is that feels covered with bruises inside my thorax could take from the coughing.

I always associate thoraxes with grasshoppers.



I went into the office today, where I did guess what. Edited.



I put three things that are important to me in the U.S. mail today:
  1. A birthday card for Robert's sister.

  2. A "Get Well" card for my nephew who, trying to ride his skateboard down a banister, now has pins and rods in his foot and leg at the ripe old age of 16.

  3. A letter to my Aunt urging her to be proactive about something she is being passive about.


And then there were nine.

We started this class with 12 people. This past Tuesday was the "drop dead" date for the class—which is when the faculty decide who is in a place in their project that looks like they are going to reasonably be able to complete the project and defend it successfully.

One person dropped out at the very beginning of the class, because the project he wanted to do was work related, but the timing wasn't good with where the project was on the job.

The other two, evidently, were dropped from the class on Tuesday evening.



I watched four more episodes of Will & Grace tonight, and I laughed more and coughed less. Life is good.


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