Friday, June 26, 2015

Love is Love

When I read Justice Kennedy’s final paragraph of his decision, my eyes welled up, my heart overflowing.  I thought about my Dad and J, spending lazy summers in their house, playing with their dog Benji, drinking coffee, yes, they let me have coffee! Well—it was mostly cream and sugar—at the round table in their Midwestern kitchen.  J could play the piano by ear, he was the choir director at his church, and while he said he couldn’t read music, if you hummed a tune, immediately he could sit at the piano and play it with full on embellishments, trickling up and down the scales, as easily as my brother and I tumbling up and down the stairs of their house.

It wasn’t until I was in middle school that I understood that our situation was a ‘problem.’  A deep problem for my mother, who after having my brother and adopting me, learned that her husband was gay and they would be divorcing (my brother was 6, I was 3).   A source of shame and pain for her, and similarly for my brother, who was growing up to be a ‘man’ in a ‘man’s world,’ so to speak.

Up through the innocent and naivete times of elementary school, I thought of our family situation as a bonus one—two summer vacations, two Christmases, two thanksgivings, vacation-central!
Looking backward, now I understand the separation, secret shame, that was placed on us.  My mother—to her loving credit—never said one negative thing about my dad in front of me and my brother.  And with us living a state away, it was easy to sweep it under the rug, especially when she re-married and we went on with our lives.  I think she enjoyed the kid-free breaks with us down at our dad’s for weeks in the summer or an extra week at Christmas, or whatever we could do.  And when he was dying, she took me to the hospital to let me see him before he passed, something that my brother as unable to do.

I remember the long sprawling drives through the country with my dad and brother, stopping every hour or so on the four hour drive to see my grandmother or uncle, because I was so carsick I’d have to throw up at the nearest McDonald’s or even the side of the road.  I was used to it, they were used to it, when I recovered, I’d eat some French fries and off we’d go.

My brother and dad would crack jokes, and I remember the many times we would try and get our dad to stop smoking, stealing his cigarettes, even taking them out of his hands before he could light them.  He’d dodge our quick fingers, object, but never raise his voice, more exasperated than angry. 
My grandmother’s house was nestled in “the country” far outside of town, my brother and I would make up games and play in the yard and the trees, chasing her dog, or lazing around the sprinklers.  J would never go with us on our family trips, and up until now, I’d forgotten it was just the three of us.  

I remember I could talk to my dad about anything, without ever wondering if I'd get in trouble or get corrected, he'd listen.  Sometimes he would laugh at me, maybe he really was laughing at me rather than with, but I never thought so.  I knew that he loved me, even though months would go by between visits.  I knew it just like I knew how to breathe.   And I'll be honest--sometimes, back then, when my dad irritated me in my weird hormonal teenage angst way, I latched onto J, thought he was so much cooler than my dad, lol, but I loved them both with all my heart.

J had a son from a previous marriage, too.  And while J was younger than my dad, his son was much older than us, and when J passed a few years after my father, his son invited me to the funeral.  In the foggy youth of my college f-ed up days, I went to the funeral, but when I got there, I was too upset to hug him or greet him in any way.  I went to the house afterwards, somehow I had the key?  And toured the basement and wrote a ridiculous letter about how I wanted my father’s belongings, which now that I think about it, were likely long gone.  I never heard from J’s son ever again, and I still wonder where he is.  I want to apologize for being an unthinking idiot.  I’d understand if he couldn’t forgive me.

My mother’s one regret about my dad, she told me, was that she told my brother that he was gay, when my brother asked in middle school.  She said he wasn’t ready for it, and  I wonder if he still isn’t ready for it, but I can’t speak for him.  I knew for a time from his middle school and high school years, he latched onto my grandfather (my mom’s dad), and in my own limited, high school  knowledge of psychology, I wondered if he was using my grandpa for his father figure (because he certainly wasn’t relying on my dad or my stepdad by then).  He still doesn’t talk to me about Dad.

So what made me cry about the ruling?  Tears of joy and the bittersweet—that my dad and J are not here to see this day, that they are here only because of my memory of them, only because I hold them in my heart.  They taught me to see the best in people, first.  The rest came later.

Now children of gay parents can consider themselves equal in the eyes of the law, and that one day, maybe kids like me and my brother will no longer bear the silent shame of “lesser.”   That we don’t have to be a secret.  That if a mother or father tells their child that their mother or father is gay, it won’t be a complicated burden to carry.

I realize we are likely a long way from true equality in the social and political arenas, but this is just one gigantic step forward, so much farther than when my dad and J were here, so much farther than our childhood experiences. 

So, I wish with all my heart that in future generations, love will continue to win.


  1. It's funny that given our experiences with marriage that we even think that's a good idea any more...

    But I'm pro love too.

    1. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha -- Liv! Yes, you'd think I'd have given up on that idea. And here I am re-married, lol. Hugs and thanks for reading!! Happy 4th of July week end!! :)