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Archive for June, 2013

Look, I know this is weird and there are probably many good reasons why we haven’t talked in the past thirty years, but I’ve got five–that’s right, five–dead ex-boyfriends.  I’m surprised by how much it bothers me.  It’s made me sad.  Genuinely sad.  I wished I’d had the chance to talk with them just once more, for many reasons.  I can’t do that now.  But you’re still here, so even though we went our separate ways, and even though there were probably some excellent reasons for that, I’ll talk to you once more instead.

Take good care of yourself.

Please. (more…)

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Daddy

 

My mom’s Uncle Hans, the one who was in the SS, was the ranch foreman for a wealthy family in Bavaria after World War II.  It’s thanks to him that his wife’s family members had a place to live and work after the war had ended.  By all accounts, Uncle Hans was a short-tempered bigot.  I met him when I was ten.  He had a round, red face, and he allowed me to use the typewriter in his study to entertain myself.  He looked, I thought, like a Nazi.

Despite the fact that no one much liked him, it’s also true that no one ever crossed him, or asked about his involvement in the war.  No one asked him how much he knew.  I can only speculate about the reasons why.  Was it out of respect to him for offering his  wife’s five nieces and nephews a home?  Was it because there were former Nazi soldiers everywhere and it wasn’t fair to single him out?  Was it because he was the head of the household?  Had my mother’s relatives agreed one day to put the war behind them and not discuss it?  Could it have been because once he understood just what the Fuhrer was up to, he felt a deep sense of shame and had begged everyone to avoid the topic?  I don’t know.  I know of only one person who challenged him to explain the extermination of the Jews.

That person was my dad. (more…)

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Twenty Nine Years

When my husband and I travel to Palm Desert, we do something that reminds me of those early days when we were first dating.  And it’s not what you think.

We buy groceries.  Our first stop after landing is the Costco at Monterey and Dinah Shore.  We eat most of our meals in the condo nowadays.  If we eat out, we do it at lunchtime, to save money.

This means we’ve got to buy groceries. (more…)

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The girls wanted to know what to look for in a boyfriend.  The boys wanted to know when the time is right to ask a girl out.  But one dad at my lunch table told us that the gender-specific classes weren’t reaching every attendee.  Because they weren’t reaching the gay kids.

I spent the Memorial Day weekend at Washington Family Ranch, a Young Life camp in central Oregon.  As an “adult guest,” I had no duties and treated the opportunity as a private getaway.  I attended a few of the scheduled sessions.  I listened to my daughter speak about repentance.  I attended worship.  I wish I’d gone to more.  Specifically, I wish I’d gone to the sessions for “girls” and “boys.”

Instead, I sat in the sunshine writing and reading.  I heard about the sessions later, at lunch with the other adult guests, and regretted missing it.  I could tell those girls a few things.  They had questions about topics other than dating and boys—you know they spent some time asking where a girl can find a prom dress that doesn’t reveal half an acre of breast flesh—but dating was definitely the main subject.

The words of that dad got my attention.

He knew something was different about his daughter.  But he didn’t know anything about homosexuality, and had no idea how to give her guidance.  Now that she’s out and in a long-term relationship, he knows that she got most of her advice and support during her teen years from a high school teacher who may or may not have also initiated his daughter’s first sexual relationship.

Half of the people at our lunch table fell silent and stared at their plates, suddenly fascinated with the appearance of their lunch.  Two of us engaged with him to ask about his daughter and her journey.  I knew I wouldn’t like it if one of my children got advice about dating and his or her innermost feelings from a teacher at school.

We asked him how he felt the camp could reach out to gay teens.  He didn’t have an answer for that.  We didn’t either.  But I can understand that a Christian parent would appreciate it if kids like his daughter had the opportunity to be able to ask their questions, too.  He’d like it if kids like his daughter were told they are God’s masterpiece, and that they deserve respect, affection, and care regardless of their sexuality.

This is a topic I explored when I wrote Steadfast.  What was it like for a young Catholic man to come out to his family?  How would they respond to the news?  What about the young man’s friends?  Would they stick around or abandon him?  And what if he was also dying of the AIDS virus?

At no time did this dad talk about whether he approved or didn’t approve of his daughter’s sexuality.  That wasn’t his point.  He just wanted kids like his daughter to have a place to ask those embarrassing questions, preferably in a setting that honored their faith in God.

It’s hard to argue with that.

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