Rejected By Family At Christmas…40 Years Later, It Still Hurts
My Mom, in her beautiful English broad a accent, had asked me earlier in the week if I was a “puff, gay a homosexual?”
My answer was thoughtful, humble and reflecting, for this was the moment I feared for many years.
Slowly I answered. “I think so.”
Mom’s answer was quick and to the point. “Just because you’re English, you don’t have to be queer!”
She asked me to leave and I asked her not to tell Dad, “Let me do it, please.”
I drove to my apartment in a daze. Teary eyed, heart pounding and flesh clammy.
Christmas had always been a special time in our home. Dad decorating the tree; music flowing through out the house; Mom cooking and baking, and gifts, so many gifts under the tree.
Only when I had been in the military had I ever missed a Christmas with my parents.
I got back to my apartment, poured my self a glass of Sherry and sat watching the night fall on the scene outside the window.
The phone rang. It was Mom. “I told your Father…pause…how could you destroy our goals and hopes?”
Without thinking I answered, “Isn’t it a shame that living my life should destroy the hopes and goals for you?”
The next words from my Mom went straight to the heart. “Don’t bother coming home for Christmas.”
Conversation ended without even a good bye.
For many years after that, I spent the holiday alone, but I always celebrated.
Put up a tree, cooked a meal and called all the relations wishing them a “Merry Christmas.”
Dad died a couple of weeks after the Christmas of 1975. My Mom had called me, I was in the Northwest then, to come home, “he was going quickly.”
I did talk to Dad on that call and the only thing he said was “I love you son.”
It had been many years without ever hearing those words, even before the gay issue, for Dad was not emotional or verbal when expressing his feelings. I didn’t get home in time. He was gone.
Mom was cold towards me. She went abroad to teach and I came back home.
Over the years, we still were a part during the holidays but in the early 90’s, after Bob and I had met and bought a house, did something in her change.
I contribute the change to her missing the wonderful times and the memories of what use to be. I also think having my Aunt, her sister, come from England for a Summer visit helped, for she was very supportive to Bob and myself.
On one of those renewed holiday visits my Mom found out that Bob didn’t go home and that his family was separated. The next year my Mom asked me to bring Bob.
The several years that followed became a tradition on Christmas. Mother would invite us both “home for the holiday.”
Mom still was never comfortable with my “gayness” and we never talked about the subject, yet it was obvious she liked Bob.
The Christmas of 1993 was the last one for the three of us.
She wanted it to be “special.”
That year Mom went as far as to cook a goose with all the traditional trimmings. She passed several weeks later, just after her 69th birthday and days before the anniversary of my Dad’s death.
I had visited the night before. As she hugged me, walked me to the door, her last words were, “Son, I love you and tell Bob, I love him too.”
Now each Christmas, Bob and I celebrate what I consider the most wonderful time of the year.
One filled with much hurt, but also filled with many loving memories.
I’ll never regain those years a part from my Mom and Dad, but I have their last statements to mentally unwrap each Christmas.
It became a tradition during those years a part that I would write a poem on Christmas Eve.
That first Christmas Eve alone, I spent it at midnight mass and wrote the poem on the back of the program before the recessional.
I bow my head in prayer and ask the Father of us all for guidance.
It is the Eve of the most hallowed day in all of Christendom, and I am alone.
He was born among us, then died among us,
Yet He too was alone when forsaken.
The choir sings its anthem as flames of candles dance,
Casting light upon the humble congregation.
Where is the future?
Where is my new birth?
Whisper softly, “Merry Christmas.”
Finally, if you know anyone who has been rejected by their family for any reason, especially because of being gay, hug them, show them that they are indeed loved, for isn’t that what Christmas is all about?