For the last few years, I’ve been a bit estranged from my family. My biological family, that is. I was raised catholic. And of course, the catholic religion frowns on homosexuality.
My mother was never accepting of me but she loved me, just the same.
My sister has always been very judgmental, though. But mom always kept her “in check”.
My brother passed away in ’95 from leukemia but I’m sure he would have been understanding and loved me too.
When my mother passed away in September, it was as if my sister had been released from a cage and the teeth were bared.
I was told that my lifestyle was what killed my mother, that I would be judged for my behavior and God would hold me accountable for my sins. I was then “asked” not to attend her funeral.
My response to that was a big fat “FUCK YOU!”. I was not going to allow anyone to tell me I didn’t have the right to say good bye to my mother. Not even my own biological family.
When my “chosen” family found out the way I was being treated, they rallied to my defense. Friends that I’d grown up with; people who knew my mother from our childhood; cleared their calendars to be there for me and my daughter in our time of grief.
Jenny was my biggest advocate. I had friends fly in from Tampa, drive in from neighboring towns, and former coaches and teachers from the school I went to and my daughter attended took the day off to pay their respects and to be a buffer between me and my sisters family.
It was a frustratingly sad day. Not only was I saying good bye to my mother, but I knew that I was saying good bye to the possibility of any relationship with my sister.
This is the first Thanksgiving that I won’t get to call my mom and hear her voice. I won’t get to listen to her brag about my former classmates that “made good”, hear her gossip about those that have fallen on hard times. Most of all I won’t have a chance to tell her that she is someone I am thankful for.
She was not an easy woman to live with. She was demanding and abrasive. She was judgmental and outspoken. She was distant and almost cold. But she was my mom. She was someone I could always trust to catch me when I fell. She was going to tell me the truth when I was fucking up. She was always loving, in her own way. She didn’t give out hugs or words of praise. But the undying loyalty she had towards us showed us that we were loved.
The fact that my sister was never allowed to treat me the way she does now, proved that even after almost 4 decades, I was still her child and she would protect me.
This year I am spending thanksgiving with my chosen family and my children. Jenny, Shemp (my wasband), my two daughters, and one of Louie’s friends from school. No one will ever be turned away or treated as an outcast at our home on any holiday.
This is the first year that I get to spend with Jenny. I’m looking forward to many, many more. She has made the loss of my biological family bearable because I lost a mother and sister, but gained a wife and 4 more kids.
I have friends that would literally travel to great lengths to support me, even if for just a few hours.
I have a comfortable home, food, clothes, money in the bank and a job that provides us with a comfortable life.
I have my health, strength and the type of determination that reminds me, “Depression is a lying bastard. Things will get better” (stolen from The Bloggess)
So this is not the first Thanksgiving that I’m spending “without”. It’s the first Thanksgiving that I’m spending “WITH”. With so much more than even I believed I was worthy of.