Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Coming Out, Part 3. The Family

I have an odd fractured family and we hardly ever talk to each other. Not, I think, because of any animosity, but mostly due to ennui and out-of-sight, out-of -mindedness. The exception to that for much of my life has been my mother. She's sort of a willful, bitchy know-it-all, as mothers (including me, I'm sure) tend to be. She's also got some mental health issues that cause her to drop into my lap periodically with no notice and stay for a few years and require at least some casual supervision.

For a long time she lived 100 feet away in a trailer we'd put on our property. After a few years we moved a couple of miles down the road and she stayed in the trailer, but she would come over every day and watch the kids after school until I got home. Then I'd cook supper for all of us and she'd go home again. It was a nice arrangement...it saved me a fortune in childcare and we had just enough interaction to be enjoyable but not so much that we'd have to kill each other.

My mother had taken up religion in a BIG way in middle-age. She was Jesusing a couple of evenings a week because she couldn't get enough Jesus on Sunday* alone, and she was also getting an extra Jesus fix on Christian television all week long. Sometimes when she was watching the kids I'd hear one or the other say, "Oh, Gammy! Do we have to watch the Jesus show?  I hate the Jesus show!"

I'm not sure what she thought was happening when Carol moved in, but we were observing a strict "don't ask, don't tell" policy. I was nervous about how she would react in light of her religious zeal, but at the same time, Carol was obviously living with me and we weren't trying to hide the relationship.  My solution was just to set another place at the table and not mention it. It worked great for a couple of months.

Carol and I planned a long weekend in Panama City, Florida during the semester break after we'd been living together for a few months, and my mom agreed to watch the kids. I stocked the fridge for her, and we had cable tv, which gave her access to even more Jesus channels and she was a happy little Holy Roller.

We went to Florida and had a great mini-holiday. We got home early Sunday evening and I hugged the kids and asked my mom how it went. "Fine.," she said tersely, then picked up her stuff and quickly hurried out the door.

"What's up with her?", I asked the kids. They told me they didn't know, she'd been that way all day. It seemed weird, but I thought maybe she had something of her own going on and I just sort of blew it off.

Later that evening when we were getting ready for bed, I realized that she had gone through a wooden box on my nightstand and read a pile of fairly steamy love letters from Carol, and she had left them sitting out on the bed.  I said, "Uh-oh. Now she'll be in therapy for the rest of her life! That'll teach her to stay out of my stuff."

Since I was between semesters, mom didn't come watch the kids for the next few days and I didn't see her. But I had agreed to take her to the oral surgeon at the end of the week for a procedure that would leave her doped up enough that she wouldn't be able to drive herself home afterwards.

I picked her up first thing in the morning, and she was quiet in the car. We got to the dentist's and she went in for her procedure while I waited outside in the waiting room with a book. Finally a hygenist brought my boneless mother back to the waiting room and explained that she'd required some extra anesthetic, so she was pretty loopy. I took her and her post-op instructions and prescriptions out to the car and poured her into the passenger seat, where she promptly fell asleep. She was sleeping so soundly that I thought I was safe stopping at the drugstore to fill her prescriptions.

When I got back in the car, she surprised me by being awake...sort of. She rolled her head sideways towards me and spoke in a slurred mumble, "You know...iss alrigh' wi' me if you're a....ho...ho...ho-mo-sek-shul." Then her head rolled back  and she was sleep again.

Huh. Well.

I took her back to my house and put her to bed in Katie's bed, and she slept all day. When she woke up, she was popping pain pills and drinking her tea lukewarm, but she was pretty much back to normal. She stayed and drank tea at the kitchen table while we ate supper, and afterwards, when the kids went to watch tv, she said, "You know, this is the best relationship you've ever had. I'm glad you found each other."

This is exactly the reason I never shot her for all the other misery she caused me later.

We never have really talked much about Teh Gay...I can't see much of a reason to. I yam what I yam, in the words of the philosopher Popeye. I realized while writing this that I rarely made the announcement of gayness, except to my friends who didn't live close by. Otherwise it never even occurs to me that I might need to seek approval or permission or whatever else people seek. And it's not like it's a secret to the people I meet now. Look at me. I'm such a dyke. Duh.

It also occurred to me now that it might have been bad manners to not make a formal announcement. This is the first time I've had that thought, so it might require another minute or two of thinking.

*She changed churches soon after that. I asked her why, since she loved her church. She told me that when her church elders heard I was gay, they told her she would have to shun me. She quit her church on the spot.


Jazz said...

Quite the journey. And kudos to your mom for dumping her church. Shun you indeed. Asshats.

Ev said...

Thanks. In contrast, I try to come out to my day every time I talk to him, which admittedly isn't often. He never quite hears me, though.

"No, Dad. She's not my "friend", she's my partner. No, she won't be spending Christmas with her family. I AM her family."

Anonymous said...

Great story Mom. Sorry about throwing you under the bus. :)


Ev said...

Don't be. Thanks for doing my dirty work.

Erika said...

I'm totally loving this series! The whole 'big announcement' thing always felt so bizarre to me. Some relationships required it, some didn't. I've found that the lesser a deal I make out of my gayness, the lesser a deal it is to whoever's finding out I'm gay.