As I sit here in front of my monitor on Christmas Eve and think of the issues we have faced this year and those things that I’ve seen come flying back at us in retribution as the war for equality rages on it presses me to express my story of something optimistic in this season that, in 2011, is a questionably festive Christmas for many of us.
This story is completely true and in my life I have a few markers I’m very proud of but this incident and relationships that bloomed out of this single act shine.
During this past year we’ve heard the battle cry of the right-wing, “Sanctity of Marriage”, and that old faithful, “Family Values”.
Well, this has a whole lot of both.
In October, 2010, my life-partner (unfortunately, we live in Florida and we have about as much chance of getting marriage equality here as donkeys do sprouting wings and flying so we would love to get out of here and move to California), Kathy, and I, travelled to her hometown of West Sacramento, California to see her three children, Jennifer, Bekah, and Matthew and her family and friends.
It was a hectic two weeks to say the least. Our cell phones were ringing every few seconds with invitations to visit everyone so we were running around all over the place and we also wanted to see San Francisco and wine country.
There was one other “must do” item I had on my list and Kathy wanted little to do with it but I insisted. She had been estranged from her parents for several years and as a result her children kept their grandparents at arm’s length as well.
I insisted we visit with her parents and at least attempt to patch the relationship. She hemmed and hawed but eventually gave in.
When we got there Kathy’s mother, Mabel, greeted us and was very nice to me, wanted to know all about me and accepted me right away. I mentioned to her father, Jimmie, that Kathy had told me that he had retired from Southern Pacific Railroad and I loved trains. He and I hit it off and he started giving me all sorts of train memorabilia including this wonderful Southern Pacific black jacket that Kathy had wanted for years.
As we were leaving, Mabel turned to me, gave me a big hug and said, “Thank You for bringing us back our daughter and I know it was you!”
In the months that followed after we got home, once a month, I would ask Kathy, “Have you called your mother?” She would bitch and complain but I’d make her call and within a short time she rebuilt that relationship with them one brick at a time. Every time she talked to Mabel, Mabel would ask for me and we’d get to know each other. I also talked to Jimme and simply called both of them mom and dad. I told them I didn't have my parents and Mabel said, "You have us now." That brought a tear to my eye.
This past fall Mabel had to go in for minor surgery and we were a bit concerned. As soon as she was in recovery the first person she called was me. Not Kathy. Me. Then she talked to Kathy.
Through this past year as Kathy’s relationship has rebuilt she’s been telling her kids to get in contact with their grandparents and those relationships have been knitting nicely, too.
Last week, both Kathy and I, received these rather anonymous letters with a postmark of “The North Pole”.
Inside was letter that purported to be from Santa Claus telling us what a good job we’d done over the past year and it contained a small, gold plated tree ornament with “2011” stamped on it.
I had the thought in the back of my mind that Mabel might have had something to do with it but it didn’t matter. I still had a tear in my eye that someone thought enough of me to send me something that told me I mattered and made a difference.
It was a day later I found out it wasn’t Mabel’s idea but Jimmie’s.
Kathy’s three children now have a much closer relationship with their grandparents after losing their other grandmother this past year and what’s even more important to me is that after my own parents disowned me, my mother drank herself to death in 1997 and my father didn’t even bother to tell me until 2003, I now have parents that are more precious to me than my own.
If could find a way to get Kathy and I to Sacramento right now so we could be close to that family then I would leave tomorrow. With Proposition 8 on the edge of being thrown out then Kathy and I could be legally married and then my new family would be legal. I already know, and so does Kathy, that this is a lifelong relationship and we’re in this “until death do us part”.
So for all of you from the right-wing who monitor my website just to see what horrible things the LGBT community is printing to combat your vicious lies about us, or if you’re one of us, the happy an gay people who walk up to the door of a right-wing Christian, knock, and tell them, “We’ve come for your daughter, Chuck!” The moral of this tale is that I’ve helped to heal my love’s family and gained a family in the process.
So if you’re lucky enough to have presents under your tree then I have the following thought for your Christmas:
Find your peace and love not from a box but in your family and friends because you can’t buy those commodities anywhere and if they’re real then they’ll never wear out and never need replacing.
Happy Holidays everyone!
By Stephanie Donald
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