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October 25th, 2006 Byron Beck | Queer Window
 

Mama Trauma

Love means never having to grow up...doesn't it?

     
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Tuesday, Oct. 10, was a rough day.

At 8 am, my mom, Sparkie, had surgery. She'd been run over at a supermarket, by a forklift. Her already bum knee needed a lot more work if she ever planned to walk on it again. At 11 am, our vet called to say our mama cat, Peg, had cancer. If we wanted her to live, we needed to remove her tail. After lunch I got one more call. My grandma, Grace, had days—if not hours—to live. Why is it that all the really bad news always comes in threes?

Now, like most gay men, I am a mama's boy. But the truth is, on that day I realized I was three mamas' boy: my mom's, my grandma's and my pussycat's. Each one of these "ladies" is a huge part of my heart. Having all three of them in crisis—at exactly the same time—was too much for this queer boy's soul to bear. I wanted to run away, get away from all the misery. How I wish I could click my Converse slip-ons three times and escape all this.

No such luck.

Instead, 24 hours before my grandma passed, I made a quick trip to her Bend nursing home to see her one more time before she died. Even though I'd seen my share of friends in hospice, this time was different. Grandma, nearly 92, was still breathing. She seemed at peace. And when I knelt down by her bed, I mustered the courage to do the one thing I never thought I'd have enough guts to do: I told her goodbye.

Having to say farewell to the first person who encouraged me to follow my writing dreams, who was my best critic, who was the closest thing I ever had to a muse, was made even more difficult when I realized how little I'd shared with her over the past few years. I don't blame it on the fact that I'm gay, but there were big parts of my life—my gay life—I wouldn't talk to her about. Even though I knew she knew, we never talked about such stuff; she being of a generation where "stuff" was better left unsaid. That said, she never judged me. And she made sure to include my partner, Juan, in all of our little talks. That's why I told her, there by her bed, for the first—and last—time, that I'd make sure to take care of Juan, as well as myself and all my other family members, from this point on.

Which brings me to this point. I can no longer be called anyone's grandson. I am my own man, my own gay man. And my mom's hurting. And my cat's going to die. In the past, such traumas would lead me to drink until I passed out (which I did last weekend). Or I would've called Grandma. Now who am I going to call?

It's weird. When I accepted that I was gay, way back in the Stone Age of the early 1980s, I never thought I would have to worry about women again. Now they're the only thing that's on my mind.

 
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