Thursday, June 01, 2006

"I don't know how I feel about men having sex with men..."

The first (and only) time I ever went waterskiing was in Indiana about four years ago, with AJ's parents. It was a gorgeous day. The water was warm, and the sun was out, the lake sparkled as if it were made of a million diamonds and through some miracle I was able to actually get up on the skiis once for a magical 5 minute run - until my wrists started to hurt so much that I actually had to signal to AJ's family (who were driving the boat) that I was voluntarily letting go....

After the afternoon on the lake, all of us were going over to AJ's brother's house for a big family reunion. It wasn't very often that AJ visited during the summer, and several other family members were in town as well that normally weren't. It was going to be the first time I met some of the extended family including his grandfather and his stepgrandmother (who married his grandfather when AJ was 8, so for all intents and purposes was his grandmother). I was a little apprehensive about meeting everyone but the day at the lake was so great, I was finally relaxing a little bit more around his family. They seemed to be accepting me as AJ's partner.

Once we got back to his brother's place, AJ and I ran into a bedroom to wrap a few presents we had brought back from SF. I had asked AJ how he was going to introduce me to his grandparents, and he said "As my boyfriend! How else should I? Wait, are you uncomfortable with that?" I assured him I wasn't. Whatever he was comfortable with, I was comfortable with.

But as we left the bedroom, AJ's mom pulled AJ aside and told AJ to please introduce me as his friend, and not boyfriend to his grandparents. "They're old, you know, they might not understand."

I've never seen AJ so furious. He was positively livid at his mom, and turned away without talking to her. We went out to the backyard where everyone was, and didn't talk to her at all the rest of the day. When we went up to talk to his grandparents, AJ was so upset, that he just turned to them and said "Hi! This is Irvin."

His grandfather said hello, and Mildred, the grandmother, turned to me, looked me up and down smiled and said. "Hello" and then she turned to AJ and said. "It's so great to meet your b. b... buddy."

We weren't fooling Mildred. The woman has been around the block. She knew I was AJ's boyfriend (how could you not? Why else would AJ bring this strange asian boy to his otherwise all white family reunion?). She even wanted to say "boyfriend" but didn't because AJ didn't introduce me to her as such. That only upset AJ worse. His mom had obviously pulled AJ aside because of her own personal fears.

Last weekend AJ and I went to Chicago for a wedding. It was beautiful and gorgeous and I had a wonderful time with both old friends and new. I'm sure I'll post more about it later, but at the end of the trip, both of our planes were delayed. AJ was heading off to his parents house in Indiana (he long ago had forgiven his mom for that particular incident - though he certainly has not forgotten about it) for a couple of days and I was heading back to SF to go back to work.

At the airport, as we waited for our delayed planes, AJ called his mom to tell her he was going to be arriving late. She had bad news for him. Mildred had passed away the day before.

Mildred's health had been declining in the past couple of years. But her passing so suddenly was unexpected. In truth, AJ had thought his grandfather would pass on first, as he had just had a stroke a couple of months ago.

AJ spent the next couple of days dealing with funeral stuff in Indiana. In the end, the funeral and the wake for Mildred was more a celebration of her life, than a mourning of her passing. She was 89 and had lived a good happy life. And though I had only met her a handful of times, usually during the crazy hectic holiday season, I was sad too. She was the woman who called me AJ's buddy. And for that I give her my props and dues.

AJ's mom pulled him aside during the wake. She told him that Mildred had once pulled her aside and told her "I don't know how I feel about men having sex with men. But I like that Irvin. It's nice that AJ and Irvin are together."

God Bless Mildred. May she rest in peace.


At 11:20 PM, Anonymous Karen said...

Sometimes it just takes getting to know at least one person or situation to get past one's fear or ignorance of the unknown. I'm glad that Mildred liked you despite her uncertainty about homosexuality. (Then again, who wouldn't after getting to know the charming person that is you?)

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Billy Farquhar said...

Sorry to be posting all of these comments all at once, but I'm catching up on your fabulous blog this week. I'm really happy to hear stories like this. It's nice to hear that by being good people, we can be "ambassadors" of the gay "community" and maybe change the way people think about gay people. Even to people who are quite old or set in their ways of thinking.


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