Saturday, December 3, 2011

Embracing All Your Children--Gay and Straight

One of my children is gay. I knew it before my child did. I agonized for my child, wanting to help somehow. One day, at almost 18 years of age, my child announced it to our family. Our whole family was fine with it. After all, science is proving it's not a choice but a genetic code, but even if it was a choice, where's the harm in it? True love always makes the world a better place, so what is not to like? Our family's only concerns were the small minds, prejudice, and bigotry of others.

Right away I began sharing the news with friends, just as I would share news of a new job or a new college degree. I love my children so much that I like to share their news all the time, and probably more than my children want it shared. :)  I was puzzled by most people's immediate question, "How are you handling it?" I always laughed out loud and said, "Fine. My child's not dying of cancer or going to prison, so why should I be anything but fine?"

Then people would bring up the "hell" consequence. Honestly, that made me laugh harder than before. Why would a loving God send you to hell for something you can't help? And believe me, most gay people would help it if they could because who wants to go through life being looked at askance? No, God is a loving, understanding entity, who asks of us only to be loving and understanding too, so no way would God send someone to hell for truly loving another person. And as far as being gay and abstinent--how cruel is that? Where does this fear of sex come from? I don't get it, and I certainly would never suggest something so ludicrous as abstinence to another individual in love with someone.

When I was teaching at a community college, I had several gay students, many of whose parents were not supportive nor accepting when their children found the courage to out themselves to their families. This broke my heart. I do not understand parents withholding love and emotional support. Family should be the one place you are accepted for whatever you are--no questions asked--because love is  unconditional in a family. Family is a safe harbor in a sometimes cruel world.

My hope, my prayer, is that parents the world over will set aside preconceptions and fears about homosexuality and will open their arms and hearts to their gay children. These are the children you nursed, you cuddled, you taught to walk, you taught to drive a car, you laughed with, and you dreamed with. When you discover that the dreams you had do not match the dreams your child has, don't squash the child's dream and try to mold it to match yours; rather, embrace your child as he or she is, and thrill to the all the new insights and perspectives. Your world will be happier and bigger for it.

Take care,


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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Finally, A Writing Life

When I was four years old, I wanted to read and write stories. My mother gave me scissors and magazines and told me to cut out the pictures and glue them on construction paper to make my story. I was NOT happy. I wanted to read, not look at pictures, and I wanted to write with words! My poor mom. She didn't know what to do. She didn't know how to teach reading. So, she had me read along with her for a couple of books, and, voila, I was reading. But, I was not yet writing. My four year old fingers just didn't make recognizable letters.

By 5th grade, I was reading and writing well, and I decided to write a play about Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin and their times. My teacher was one of those enlightened and inspirational teachers who you remember till the day you die. I loved her. Miss Copeland liked the play and told me to do a production of it for the class. I got to pick the students for the parts and direct the play--I was in heaven. The only sad thing is that my parents would not come to see it. In fact, my dad threw out my play, calling it trash. Why would a parent do that to a child?

While sad that I no longer had my play to look at (there were no copy machines then), I went on to write occasional short stories, which my teachers liked. I also loved writing essays, which I'm sure mystifies many of my students. But, while I loved writing, my first love was science, and I directed most of my energies in that direction.

Calculus was my Waterloo. I just could not figure it out, so my science career ended before it began. Determined to get a BA in something, I turned to my old friends reading and writing and became an English Literature major. I took a wonderful playwrighting class and was told to quit school and write plays, but I thought the professor was just being kind and supportive, so I stayed in school. :)

In graduate school, I began teaching English and loved it. One of my pleasures is writing Letters to the Editor and sending them to local newspapers. I always taught my students to write them because I wanted them to see how their writing has power and purpose. What a thrill to see a student's face light up when his or her letter is printed in the paper--truly one of life's greatest pleasures.

Then, just as I was about to begin my illustrious career as a Shakespeare scholar (Lol), I fell in love and had four children with whom I shared my passion for reading and writing, and, I must say, each of my children is a better writer than I am, which makes my mother's heart swell with joy and pride.

Always in the back of my mind was the thought that some day I would write. How many people die still thinking that? I have kept a framed scrap of paper with Edward Albee's words to me nearby. They are probably the same words he wrote to everyone who asked for his autograph, but still they are special to me, and they are: "Be sure you're a writer--That it's essential to you--Then write! Edward Albee"

When I turned 60 in June, I realized that some day never comes because there are always so many things vying for your attention. I realized that the time to write is now or not at all. So, I wrote a book this summer. Not the book I had planned all these years. Not the many plays I've started and outlined but not yet finished. Not the short stories I've been working on for years but not yet finished. No, I wrote a book about dementia because my husband has dementia, and I want to make some sense of it and perhaps help others who are dealing with it.

And what did I learn about myself from writing this book? That I am a writer. I loved every minute of writing. Like Albee said, "it is essential" to me. So, I started this blog to keep writing while I get my book ready to publish because I find I just cannot bear the thought of not writing. It is my ready time to be a writer. It may have taken me sixty years to get here, but I did get here, and that is what counts.

Take care,


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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hoping for Christmas Magic

In our home on Thanksgiving weekend, we begin getting ready for Christmas magic, just like Tante does in The Cobweb Christmas. I find the Christmas CD's, play them, and we all sing along (well, to be perfectly honest, I do most of the singing). The kids and I cut down a tree and decorate it. We decorate our home, inside and out, turning it into an enchanted kingdom. I, who loathe the stove for the rest of the year, actually bake some cookies and other goodies. We send and receive cards full of love and goodwill. We donate to charities. We watch Scrooge (the movie musical with Albert Finney) on Christmas Eve. We wrap a few gifts, stuff our stockings with edible goodies, and hope for Christmas magic to arrive.

What is it we hope for? We hope that the loving, caring goodwill embraced and exhibited by us and our fellow humans for four weeks each year, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, will somehow weave a transformation in our hearts, minds, and souls that will last past Christmas Day, and that people all the world over will get along and work for the benefit of everyone, not just at Christmas but throughout the whole year. Sadly, so far, each December 26 we've had to realize that Christmas magic didn't arrive, no matter how much we hoped it would. Each year we turn back into our impatient, thoughtless, self-absorbed selves.

But, it is Thanksgiving weekend again, and the kids and I are once again filled with hope. So, we are getting ready for Christmas magic and hoping that this year Christmas magic will finally decide we humans are worth it and make its appearance. Maybe, however, the true spirit of Christmas should not be hoping for magic to arrive and make everything better; maybe the true spirit of Christmas should be all of us working together to change our hearts, minds, and souls in order to make the world a better place for everyone the whole year round. Maybe what we want Christmas magic to do for us, we must choose to do for ourselves. This year, instead of waiting for Christmas magic, let's be Christmas magic; then, maybe, December 26 and all the other days of the year will be as full of love and goodwill as the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Take care,


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