Posts Tagged ‘family’

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Storyteller

May 26, 2009

You know these guys.  You somehow get dragged into a tent at a festival, or the school sends home a notice asking you to bring your child to school for an evening of storytelling.  You prepare yourself for an hour of some old guy in bib overalls, telling endless stories that end abruptly and make no sense.  Perhaps it’s a woman in a long calico dress who lived on a commune in the 1960’s, and she breaks out an autoharp to sing a song about spinning wool, but either way, you feel like you’re in for a real snoozefest. 

In this case, I needed to pick up some credits for Pennsylvania’s Act 48 continuing education requirement for teachers, and this storyteller was hosted by a local elementary school.  All I had to do was show up, listen to a few stories, and collect my 1 hour credit. 

Unfortunately, I was drawn in.  This guy was good, perhaps too good.  I had to give him credit, he was in corduroy pants and suspenders instead of bib overalls.  His first story was not only enough to hold my attention, I found myself imagining what this 8 foot tall hairy woman would look like.  I wondered how this “regular man” could leave the child he had with the hairy woman, and I certainly couldn’t imagine how he could leave his son, no matter how ugly the kid was.  

So when the storyteller asked us to close our eyes and go on a journey, I did so quite willingly.  Why not?  I’ve been practicing some meditation lately, and I figured this story could be like a guided meditation.  We were directed to walk into the woods.  As we made our way through the forest, we were told to follow the path to the big tree up ahead, our family tree.  Our next instruction was to take a close look at it, feel the bark, look down at the roots, gaze up through the branches into the sunlight. 

Our storyteller asked us to do what seemed to be impossible, but it was afterall, just in our minds.  We entered the tree.  We were doing this collectively, a group, in the school cafeteria, but at this point, the story, and the experience became very personal.  I’d even describe it as sensual and intimate without being sexual.  A tree is an awesome living thing, and to be in the tree, our own family tree, is a deeply personal experience.  

“Go down to the roots, and if you see an animal there, greet them; listen to what they have to say.”   I saw a skunk, which made me laugh a little, but I heard him say what a great honor it is to live in this tree, and that I was a special part of the life of the tree.  I travelled to the highest branches and met a robin there.  The robin told me that the branches of this tree have given me the ability to soar.  I thanked both the skunk and the robin and returned to the trunk. 

Our guide asked us to leave the tree and start back on the pathway to our real world.  We rubbed our hands together, perhaps to awaken our minds to our present reality.  Then we wiped our faces to open our eyes and leave behind that great family tree we discovered in our imaginations. 

Storyteller, where did you take me this evening?  I’ve been playing with myth and magick, story and dreams.  Meditation has taken me to places much like you showed me tonight.  Once again, I am reminded that we are all connected. Family connections, whether we like it or not, can be very strong. They can be help us or hurt us.  Ultimately, the family tree determines not only who we are, but provides those heaven-lifted branches from which we take flight to become the person we are meant to be.

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Part 3: The Toast

September 16, 2008

WE are proud of our daughter/stepdaughter.  We asked Stormie to perform the duties of toastmaster at our wedding because she knows us better than anyone else does, and she is the eldest child.  Age does bring privilege as well as responsibility; our request of her demonstrates both. 

Noted:  Stormie took her own sweet time setting up for the toast.  She walked across the dance floor to get the music stand to hold her notes.  She fumbled with her glasses.  She looked around the room and took a deep breath.  This is what we heard:

 

Are you ready?
 
First of all, I want to say what a huge honor this is. Daddy sent me a text Wednesday morning to check my e-mail for a “special request.” I was working at the library, thinking it was a link to a gift or something like that. When I checked, it was actually a link to “How to Write a Great Wedding Toast.” I cried immediately, partially overwhelmed and partially thrilled. So… I hope I was the best choice.
 
SCOTT, right before I first met you, I was so excited. I think Daddy could tell, and he said, “He’s not used to teenage girls, and he may be shy.” You were, but I was ready to get to know you. I knew I liked you as soon as you thought I was funny. It didn’t take long for us to bond over our orneriness and ability to irritate Daddy. Now, we take turns teasing each other, telling dirty jokes, and talking about how much trouble you’ll be in once I’m not around. Scott, I’m happy to say welcome to the family. It’s been easy to let you in our life, and it only gets better with the Clarks. I love you, and I hope my hugs will always make you feel better.
 
DADDY, when anyone asks about you and me, I use my favorite response: “I am my Father’s daughter.” So, to see you happy makes me happy. We had a conversation last Spring about leaving your comfort zone and giving out what you want in return. You’re proof that it works. I’d like to think you know exactly how I feel about you two, but just in case you don’t, there’s never been a question in my mind that you’re made for each other. Thank you for everything you’ve done for us. You’ve made my life more interesting by being a part of yours. I love you.
 
Daddy 1 and Daddy 2, congratulations, and I wish you nothing but the best. I love you both.
 
Life is a journey, not a destination. Here’s to making the journey together.
 
SLAINTÉ

Stormie giving the toast

Stormie giving the toast

 

As mentioned elsewhere in this blog, there were very few that could listen to that, knowing even part of our story, and not shed a tear.  I heard reports of full-blown crying.  I know I had tears just gushing from my eyes. 

Everything she said is true.  Stormie was nervous about meeting Scott, they hit it off well, and now, they are partners in teasing me, almost relentlessly.  Stormie and I both have had our share of problems, none that we’d be in a hurry to repeat.  We’ve both done our homework and find ourselves in a healthy place, each of us cheering the other on.  She is her father’s daughter, and sometimes it hurts to see ourselves in the other, though most of the time, it’s great to see a loving reflection.  Stormie gets that Scott and I are not only good for each other, but that there’s a deep connection that might not show on the surface.  Anam Cara: I am his, and he is mine. 

There’s no question that our children’s lives became more interesting when we came out to them.  Surprisingly, they’ve suffered very few incidents of bullying or taunting because of us.  I’m sure this is an indication that the younger generation is less concerned about who’s gay and who’s straight.  They have met people, gone places, and seen things that they might never have encountered had Scott and I remained closeted.  Their lives are richer because of it.  I can hear it in their conversations, and I can see it in the smiles on their faces.  Our confidence in ourselves overflows to the kids.  Daddy 1 and Daddy 2 (thank you, Sawyer, for the new names) are on a journey together that includes getting our children moving on their own journeys.  It’s exciting to see where we all might go next.

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Perfect Wedding Part 2

September 13, 2008

I left you hanging at the end of the ceremony, as if that was all there was to the wedding.  There is much more.  It just seemed like too much to put into one post.  I’ll warn you now.  It’s very likely that there will be two more posts about the wedding.  So, it’s time to party!

The celebration continued with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.  We greeted our guests, got our drinks and posed for some pictures.  Before long, it was time for the meal, which started with a blessing from our minister, followed by the most incredible toast offered by my daughter, Stormie.  I know I blew her mind when I asked her to give the toast, but I explained that she is the one who knows our relationship better than anyone else, and as the eldest child of the seven in the blended family, it simply made sense that she receive that honor. 

Stormie’s toast is worthy of a separate blog entry.  What stands out for me is the way in which she affirmed the welcome of Scott into our family, then spoke of the lessons of love she has learned from us.  For instance, I believe that one can not receive emotionally what one is not willing to give:  you want love?  you’ve got to give it.  A particularly moving part of her toast was when she identified with me saying “I am my father’s daughter.”  How well I know this.  It has given us an incredible emotional intimacy, while also creating some tension as we confront in each other, the things we don’t like about ourselves.  If you think this would make for a teary-eyed moment at the wedding, you’re right.  I couldn’t see most of the people around me, but word has it that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. 

Fabulous dinner was served, and Scott and I made the rounds to each table to chat with our guests.  We were honored to hear such glowing compliments about our ceremony, our selection of music, our table settings, and even the choice of the venue.  The wedding cake was so elegant with blue-green ombre ribbon around each square layer and the hydrangea to separate them.  Our pictures topped the cake.  It looks like Scott smeared the cake as we fed each other, and yeah, he did a little, but not enough that I would be wearing cake all evening.

I was feeling a bit self-conscious about the first dance as a married couple.  I had so wanted to get dance lessons, but time and money prevented us from getting into a dance class.  We took to the floor and danced to “Someone Like You” from Jekyll and Hyde.  The lights were dimmed and once again Scott and I were in our own world, chatting, laughing, and moving effortlessly around the floor.  I don’t remember fighting each other to lead, or for which direction to go next.  I don’t even remember what I said that had Scott laughing, but it produced one of my favorite pictures of the evening. 

When our dance was done, we invited our guests to join us on the dance floor.  We chose “At Last” by Etta James.  It certainly sums up our feelings about find each other.

At last, my love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song
Oh, yeah, at last
The skies above are blue
My heart was wrapped up in clovers
The night I looked at you
I found a dream that I could speak to
A dream that I can call my own
I found a thrill to rest my cheek to
A thrill that I have never known
Oh, yeah when you smile, you smile
Oh, and then the spell was cast
And here we are in heaven
For you are mine
At last

Then it was time to party!  Shirley Bassey does a great cover of “Get the Party Started” and as the first mysterious strains began it evoked a masculine James Bond image.  The grooms, in their tuxes, coaxed the rest of the guests to the dance floor.  When the beat kicked in, the party took off and never stopped until it was time to pack up and go home.

Now, what do 2 grooms do about the traditions associated with a wedding?  We change them!  We make them our own.  No one carried a bouquet and no one wore a garter.  We had nothing to toss.  That didn’t stop us though.  We bought 2 pair of boxers, rolled them tight and tied them with a ribbon.  We then had the DJ invite all the women to the dance floor, not just the single women, but all the women.  The single women are usually embarassed to go out for the bouquet, and the married women resent not being eligible.  We took care of that by not discriminating.  Scott tossed the first pair of boxers.  We did the same for all the men, and I tossed the second pair to them.  We rewarded the winners with a bottle of homemade wine and a cd of music that included songs played at the wedding as well as some of our favorite club remixes. 

 

We danced the night away with our friends and family.  We filled that room with love.  And now, weeks later, we still hear how much fun our guests had, and Scott and I feel the effects of having those closest to us affirm our marriage with their presence.

note:  there’s more to come:  a unique twist to the honeymoon!

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The Perfect Wedding

September 3, 2008

The ceremony finished with one of our ministers introducing us as a couple…partners for life.  That one phrase marked the beginning of our life together as husband, and well, husband.  Three weeks later, we find that we are still learning to say “husband” instead of boyfriend, or partner.  We even use our new term for our relationship and giggle, just like most newlyweds. 

Our wedding day started with a list of jobs to be accomplished.  Our music room was stacked with boxes full of decorations that would grace the tables, the favors, the candles, and the placecards.  We would be hauling all of this and my digital piano, the music stand and more to the restaurant.  We kept breakfast light, and went about the business of the day.  I cut the flowers from our gardens and arranged them in the vases purchased just for our wedding.  By 10:00am, we were loading the van and heading to the venue. 

At the restaurant, the tables were set and ready for us to place the centerpieces.  There were many helpers, so the job went quickly.  Everything was completed, including the set up of the sound system, the communion table, the guest book and place-cards within 90 minutes.  We couldn’t believe that it had gone so smoothly and so quickly.  There was nothing left for us to do but return home for a light lunch, then prepare for the ceremony that began at 6:00pm. 

This is where our day begins to blossom.  I make a light lunch for Scott, our guest Daniel, and myself.  We chat a little, then decide to relax outside in the warm sun.  We find that we have time to soak up the sun’s rays, and even nap a little.  The time just seems to slow down for us.  All of the jobs are accomplished and it’s still not time to prepare ourselves for the wedding.  I thought the wedding day was to be a mad rush, a whirlwind of activity, and here we are napping and sunbathing! 

Eventually, as in 2:30pm, our children start arriving.  We’ve chosen to dress 5 of the 7 kids at our house, keeping their new wedding clothes with us until this day, for reasons that other divorced folks might understand.  The older 2 kids are able to take care of themselves for this task.  It seems that by 3:30, we’ve got 5 boys, 10-18, showered and dressed.  Let’s take some photographs.  We’ve got more than enough cameras, digital, disposable, and even an old Nikon SLR.  We take pictures in the music room in front of the fireplace and in every conceivable combination of dads with kids, dads with stepkids, and of course, the grooms.  There’s still plenty of time remaining, so we head out the front door for a family portrait that includes both grooms, all seven of their children, and a girlfriend of a son. We head out back to use the backdrop of sunflowers and cellphone cameras are used to share these early wedding pictures. 

The New, Blended, & Gay Family

The New, Blended, & Gay Family

And we still have time to sit down and have a glass of wine at the dining room table. 

By 5:00pm, we start thinking about heading to the wedding.  This is about the point where time decides to speed up.  We arrive before 5:30 to discover that many of our guests are either anxious, or unable to read.  The 15-20 minutes we thought we had to organize, and perhaps take a few more pictures was lost to attending to those last minute details and playing hosts to our guests.  Before we realized it, it was time to begin the prelude music and start the festivities. 

I could write an entire article on the music for our ceremony.  The musicians were incredible.  I asked Jim, our pianist to play something to get the music started, then Daniel took the floor to sing “Red is the Rose”.  I moved to the piano to accompany Stormie on her French Horn for the Beethoven Adagio Cantabile that I had transcribed a few weeks earlier.  Daniel sang again with a show tune, “Will You” and Sterling followed with “Dream a Little Dream of Me” singing and playing his guitar.  Finally, Daniel finished up with “Not a Day Goes By” which was perfect for describing how we feel about each other:

….As the days go by, I keep thinking when does it end,

that it can’t get much better much longer,

but it only gets better and stronger

and deeper and nearer and simpler and freer

and richer and clearer, and no,

not a day goes by…….

the vows

the vows

At that point, Pastors Tracy& Janet, Scott and I moved to our places near the communion table and we began our ceremony.  We kept things simple, a brief invocation, two scriptures, our vows, the exchange of rings.  There were some unique features to our rites, like the Loving Cup, and a Druidic vow of unity.  We asked that communion be one of the first things we do as a couple, and in a very moving part of our service, Scott and I served our guests communion.  It was all I could do to keep from crying. 

Loving Cup

Loving Cup

More than the parts of the service, was the way in which Scott and I seemed to be in a world all our own.  After the invocation, we joined hands and locked in on each other with a gaze that none could distract.  In the weeks leading to the wedding, I could barely watch our video, or read through our vows without breaking into tears.  At the rehearsal, I could hardly say the words without my voice breaking with emotion.  Yet something mystical, perhaps magical, and very assuring took over.  I was able to speak out my vows loud and clear, and give that strength to Scott as his voice wavered with the emotion brought on by the love we felt at that moment.  We held each others’ hands and slipped the rings on each finger.  We picked up our Loving Cup and spoke the ancient words that would bind us as each other’s anam cara.  We briefly allowed our friends and family to enter our world as we served communion.  Then we turned to each other once more to make one more vow of unity in the Druidic tradition.

 

Mark, O Spirit, and hear us now

Mark, O Spirit, and hear us now

 

We swear by peace and love to stand

Heart to heart and hand in hand

Mark, O Spirit, and hear us now,

Confirming this our sacred vow.

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In the Meantime….

August 24, 2008

OK, I’ve been home a week and haven’t gotten a word written about the honeymoon or even the wedding.  I think that the biggest reason is that I have so much to say about it, I need to break it down into small pieces, organize, then write about it. 

So, in the meantime, here’s a picture:

 

and here’s a link to my pastor’s musings on the wedding:  No Difference. Really.

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Less Than Three Weeks Before the Big Gay Wedding

July 24, 2008

With the wedding day approaching so quickly, what does the happy couple decide to do?  Start a remodelling project, of course! 

One of the bedrooms belonged to a little girl before we bought the house.  That room featured three walls of bunnies by the thousands. Evidently it started with just 2 bunnies on the wallpaper, and they simply did what bunnies do.  There’s a cathedral ceiling, and the tallest wall was painted pink. 

One of our guests, Daniel, will be staying with us and we wanted an appropriate guest room.  We figured we’d paint over the wallpaper, but when we cleared the room, I noticed some of the paper was already releasing from the wall.  Much of it came off easily.  We spent a few hours scoring what was left, spraying with a wallpaper remover, and scraping off the remainder.  It really wasn’t difficult.  I also discovered that a vinegar/water solution works nearly as well as the $6 bottle of spray paper remover. 

Yes, it’s true.  The gay guys have gotten rid of the pink wall and pink & blue bunnies in their home. 

 

For now, the pink wall is becoming a creamy white.  The rest of the walls will be lighter.  And Daniel will get to sleep in an adult room. 

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McDonald’s is All About “teh gays” So Don’t Eat There!

July 9, 2008

That’s right folks, the American Family Association is highly insulted that McDonalds would make a donation to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.  So miffed that they are asking all good christians, and anyone else they can strong-arm, into boycotting the fast food restaurant chain.  They’ve even mounted a website for this very purpose. 

McDonalds’ exact sin, according to the AFA’s inflammatory website, is that they donated an amount of money to the NGLCC which may have qualified them to be listed as a corporate partner.  Recently, an executive from McDonald’s corporation was elected to the NGLCC’s board of directors.  The amount of the donation, from some reports, appears to be $20,000, which considering the billions of dollars generated by McD’s, is chump change. 

McD’s has been clear about their support for diversity, and for their commitment to fighting discrimination.  The following is an excerpt of the letter sent to Donald Wildmon and the AFA, by Pat Harris, the Global Chief Diversity Officer for McDonalds.

“We treat our employees and our customers with respect and dignity, regardless of their ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or other factors.  We support our employees’ personal involvement in organizations of their choice.” 

“McDonald’s is associated with countless local and national affinity groups here in the United States.  We have a well-established and proud heritage of associating with individuals and organizations that share the belief that every person has the right to live and work in a community free of discrimination.”

It appears that Donald Wildmon and his christian friends don’t appreciate that McD’s would be nice to “teh gays.”   He doesn’t like the corporation throwing its coins to an organization that is committed to helping businesses owned by the members of the lgbt community.  Wildmon, by past boycotts, appears to want to tell businesses to whom they should market their products, and it is always the gay and lesbian community that Wildmon believes should be ignored. 

The McDonald’s Boycott website has a page for comments.  Jeremy of G-A-Y was trying to make some neutral statements, but evidently, the site is being moderated and only the anti-gay, anti-McD’s comments get published.  I decided to give it a shot.  I made a vaguely anti-McD’s comment, but tried to insert a cryptic message.  It got in.  Here’s the screen shot:

 

 

I know you can’t see that picture very well.  My message included sentences that started with letters in G,A,Y and made sort of an anagram.  I wasn’t too clever with my statements, which come across as anti-McD’s, but I did manage to sneak in the word “GAY” by separating the first letter from the rest of the word as I began each sentence. 

“G ood thing I saw this. I took my kids there often when they were younger. A ny thinking person would know to eat elsewhere. Y esterday I vowed not to return.”

So, Game On!  Can you slip in a cryptic message to the AFA’s comment section at Boycott McDonald’s?