“Even when we walk a mile in someone else’s boots, we have no idea how those boots affect the corns, calluses, bone spurs, blisters and fallen arches of their original owners.”
I spent a lot of time in churches this past weekend. I went to Sioux Falls, SD with my mother and partner, Paul, primarily to attend the celebration of the finished life of a good friend’s mother.
This friend, let’s call her Cammy, has always brought feelings of “it’s a small world” and “six degrees of separation” into my mind. I met her about 15 years ago at the very liberal church I attend in St. Paul, MN. She is PhD musician, stunning blond and stands straight and tall at 6’1″. She was married to an even taller black man and has three friendly, statuesque children with him. The reason I think it is a small world is because her father was a pastor (he has passed away) and just happened to be the pastor at my Mom’s home church in Renner, SD. Cammy spent many years at that church and was married there by her father. At the time, this didn’t go over very well, especially with some of my relatives, for reasons I’ll let you imagine. Cammy’s father also buried my grandfather (my mother’s father) and Mom never forgot the wonderful service he performed for her dad.
Cammy’s mother’s service was at St. Mark’s Lutheran in Sioux Falls, where her parents attended for the last 10 or 12 years. It was so clear how much her mother brought to these people and how she and Cammy’s father embodied the very meaning of Matthew 25:31-46.
Mom, Paul and I also visited the home church, West Nidaros Lutheran Church in Renner, SD. This was originally a successful farming based church that has made the transition of farming and suburban community church. It was probably appropriate that there was a baptism, or celebration of new life, during that service. There were lots of friendly faces, many of which were related to Mom and I. We visited the replica church built in honor of the original Nidaros in Norway, the log cabin of relatives, moved and rebuilt to emphasize the roots of the church and, of course, the grave markers for my grandparents, uncle and aunt on Mom’s side of the family.
Lastly, we drove by Mom’s home place, which is still in the family, but rented out. The owner makes sure the place is well maintained and beautiful.
When I go back to my grandparents place, the church they attended or the family reunions organized by those left around Renner, SD, I am reminded how far and wide is a family. I talked to 2nd, 3rd and 4th cousins after church and thought about how we are all connected through blood, gospel, friendship, race, sexual orientation, etc.
So many family members, so little time. Now that I’m 53, I think even more often about not wasting my precious time avoiding, criticizing or hating people that are family in so many senses of the word. The world has plenty of haters, what it needs is more lovers.
I attended a production of “Standing on Ceremony, The Gay Marriage Plays” on Saturday, June 9, 2012 with my partner, Paul, and two good friends of ours, Jim and Diane. The play is a series of eleven one act shorts, by eleven different, talented writers. The set was very simple, but effectively used. Because of the simple set, the play relied heavily on the actor’s ability to create character, emotion, time and place with the written words. All of them did this well, and several did it extremely well. The director, Wendy Knox of Frank Theatre, did a marvelous job with this collection, creating an evening of various forms of discussion between actors, bringing important points around gay marriage arguments home with humor, wit and poignancy.
There were three male actors and three female actors playing various roles in the eleven scenes. There was only one scene, called “On Facebook” by Doug Wright–he won a Tony for Best Play for his 2004, “I Am My Own Wife”, find the link to my review for this show here–that used all five actors at once. This scene was one of my favorites because I am such a social media addict! Who hasn’t seen that uncomfortable conversation thread that makes you want to jump in and state your hard developed philosophy in short snippets and emoji faces?
“The Marriage is Saved” by Joe Keenan, was another favorite with an especially strong performance by Aimee K. Bryant. “The Gay Agenda” by Paul Rudnick was full of spunk, rhetoric and emotion. “London Mosquitoes” by Moises Kaufman brought tears to the eyes of many, and the final scene, “Pablo & Andrew at the Altar of Words” by Jose Rivera had some of the most beautifully written, vision producing, poetry of love I have heard in quite a while.
If you are a supporter of Gay Marriage, or maybe if you are on the fence and would like a lively evening of fun with thought thrown in, please try to catch one of the final performances of this play on June 14, 15 and 16.
Paul and I have been together for more than 26 years now. Our families have been, and continue to be, very important to us. Luckily for both of us, they are also all physically close. Our parents and siblings spent the past 15 or so years all within 45 minutes of each other. As our siblings have grown up, their kids are now the ones that are going out into the world to conquer and improve.
Amazingly, to me anyway, in those 26 years I have never participated in the Memorial Day weekend drive to the cemeteries to maintain plots, clean headstone, lay flowers and pay respects. It was simply never part of my families tradition because my parents lived 500 some miles away from their family. It was impossible to do, therefore was never done.
Now that Dad has passed away and his ashes are at Fort Snelling, I decided to go with them this year. Of course the weather was awful this morning and we only got to two of the four locations, but what a wonderful experience. Five of us out in the rain with brushes, knives, grass trimmers, water buckets, flowers, etc. There was laughing and telling of stories. From past years everyone knew their particular job…mine was to stand by under an umbrella and look wet, but I still really enjoyed the time. We will go and visit the last two sites tomorrow and I’ll add the pictures when we do.
It surprises me how long I wait to accept a new tradition, but I’m glad to have done it at last. May all the people visiting be granted peace and all the people being visited rest in peace.
Our first stop:
Our second stop:
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Paul and I got up early and visited Dad’s ashes at the Columbarium at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. I was reminded of what a lovely, peaceful place this is.
The full inscription below the dates reads “Husband Dad Grandpa”.
I originally wrote the following very short poem (at the bottom of this post) in 1986. It was written with a particular person in mind, but was supposed to be about relationship, and specifically, being in relationship with another person.
I didn’t write it with a defined sex for each of the individuals, not thinking that sex was the focus or the issue.
I have since known many strong couples…male / female, male / male, female / female. Some are old, some are young, some are the same age, some are not, some are in the same house, some are not, some haven’t even figured out whether they feel better being call “gurl” or “boi”.
When I see two people love and support each other to an extent that you can see it in their face, it makes me happy for them, no matter what they look like.
Why can’t it be like that for all of us? Twenty six years later, we are still talking about the issues…at least they are being talked about at a much higher level.
Cold mornings waking next to you,
Quiet evenings in each other’s arms,
Family times and holidays,
Party times and greetings,
Both with our individuality and character,
Yet with the added strength of a couple.
Through all of this we are proud to be
The two of them paid their pesos for the floating relaxation and pushed off from the shore. It seemed that the tall young man was in charge, even though he looked with smiles and deep brown eyes at his mate with every question they were asked. They had waited nearly five years for this. Alone on the raft, the lake was quiet and free of people.
The day was clear and still. It was early, because of schedules neither one of them could control, but seeing this spot of beauty, which stuck in both their minds for so long, had been their agreed upon first stop. The white hot sun was at 11 o’clock in a flaming blue sky and heat waves were starting to shimmer off the slightly green colored water.
The first thing the older man did was drop the curtain that directly faced back to the shore. He knew it would make his lover more comfortable, plus he was so very warm in this unknown climate and he needed to take off his traveling shirtf. He knew the smooth brown prince would laugh at his pale skin, but this too would make him happy.
“My dear, should we eat the picnic I packed?” The prince beamed at his beloved and gestured to the bags he had been carrying during their trip to the recreation area.
“No darling, I plan to devour you with my eyes for some time first and have you squirm under my adoring stare.” The snarky smirk crept back onto his face, just like it had a dozen times since his prince picked him up.
This brought the smile he had intended and they both settled in to visit in a position they had never tried before, touching bodies, so that they could feel each other’s heat, smell the slightly musky odor of man and feel the perspiration sliding down the other’s neck and back.
“You know I’m exhausted, puss puss…I will lay and listen to your banter with my eyes closed.” With this, the older, silver haired king turned to lay his head in the lap of his long time virtual lover.
The smooth brown prince, who had a generous and very comfortable–for the most part–lap, leaned back and started to tell his king the story of the last five years…in person.
This morning I was drinking my protein shake for breakfast, minding my own business and reading Zite…or Twitter…or Facebook…something like that. My BF, Paul, comes up behind me and starts bugging at my neck and playing with my hair. I kept rolling my head around, but finally I had to say, somewhat irritably, “What do you want?”
This got him to stop, just long enough to hand me a card, smile, roll his eyes, say “Happy Anniversary” and walk away. How do you think I felt? Well, a little chagrined that I had forgotten our 26th anniversary, needless to say.
Now don’t everybody jump down my throat at once! We take turns with forgetting things. Like, I remembered, way in advance, to order beautiful flowers for Valentine’s Day to be delivered to his office. I did happen to get one of the extra boxes of chocolates that he picked up for his sisters, brother in law, and nephew -__-. I blew off Easter (baskets), but he had a stuffed lamby, caramels, a card and two solid chocolate bunnies (I noticed one was dark chocolate, I don’t like dark chocolate, guess who does).
Maybe it should have been my turn to remember, so shoot me, I’ll remember something in the future. That’s the way it goes.
And, by the way, he was smiling when he walked away after handing me the card. Did I mention that, sometimes, its nice to know that you remembered something that someone else didn’t? To know that you just made their day? It’s not all about you, sometimes its all about the other person.
Soul mates do not simply come and go.
*If* they *ever* come, they do it with stealth. Their feet quieted in sneakers or wrapped in the softest deer hide moccasins. Their breath stilled to a whisper and their heartbeat at one with yours.
If they leave, they are accompanied by blood and gore. Red arteries, white nerves and raw muscle tissue pulled from bone.
There will be noise as well. The beating of your heart as it readies for explosion and the wailing of your mind as it thinks it is about to die.