Being a nurse comes in very handy when you are a mama of a child with cancer. I have my Uncle Jim to thank for that. He was a medic in the Vietnam War, and continued his career as an RN. I remember visiting him for lunch at the hospital, and as soon as we walked through the door, I was mesmerized. I loved the energy, and I knew that someday I wanted to work in a there. Not only was it the hospital environment, but also the way people would approach my Uncle around town, thanking him for the care that he gave them, and his fellow employees gushing about his talent. I wanted to take care of people, and I thought that helping others was my calling. Matthew almost died once, and I believe with all my heart, that my uncle played active role of my being in a place to help prevent that..
My uncle spoiled me, like uncles and aunts can get away with..he never had children, and he was able to take me places that my parents could not afford, like the symphony and fancy restaurants. He made me feel special, along with his spouse, whom I also love deeply. I shared every holiday, most weekends, and they have been such a large part of who I am today…Unfortunately, I lost my uncle to cancer a few years ago. I miss him, and the loss has left a hole in our family, like deaths do. I wish my children could know him…
“Your uncle is a fag” I heard as a child of no more than 5 years old. It was the 70’s, and my uncle’s partner happened to be a man. I didn’t know sex existed, let alone what a fag was, so I protested this vehemently. I asked my parents, who told me to tell them they were roommates. I loved my uncles, they were like a second set of parents to me, and the teasing left me with an anger I didn’t understand. The teasing continued through high school, off and on. I was confused as I began to understand sex and sexual orientation. Were they a couple? As I grew older, I accepted that they were, but we were not allowed to talk about it. They certainly argued like spouses, had a large group of friends who were gay men, they lived together as a couple. But it was an unspoken rule that we could not call it like it was…Until my uncle was on his literal death bed did I acknowledge his love for his other half. Publicly, it was not “out there” until his obituary, when my Uncle Bill was called his partner. There, in the front row, sat my uncle in black, at his husband of 40 years funeral, finally free to acknowledge their life together, the other half in an urn.
As a Christian woman who loves Jesus with all my heart, do I call what they had a sin? The answer, NO. They were simply who they were, hurt no one, and I would not have them change a thing. I find it appalling that my uncles had to live “undercover” until one of them died. That we could be teased about two men who loved each other for 40 years. Both of them enriched their community, fellow man, and certainly played a part in who I am today. I am PROUD of them, and can not nor will I ever attempt to judge or play a role in telling them, or anyone else, how to live. So for those out there defining what a family is, I say go back to your own family and live your life, please. Stay out of other people’s lives. I am blessed that I had those two men in my life, blessed beyond measure….