I have never been very close to my family other than my wife and my son. This was likely a subconscious decision but for obviously conscious reasons.
I do not want to go into a long diatribe about all my siblings, my in-laws, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, grandparents and whatever other distant relatives I'm sure I have but have likely never met.
I do, however, want to focus on two very special people in my life.
When I was younger ... which I do not understand why people insist on explaining that as part of a story ... I mean like, DUH! Of course I was younger. I am not writing a play by play of my life ... and even if I was, by the time it is posted I would be older than when I wrote it.
And it's not that I don't think Sherry is special ... although I still have a tongue in cheek grudge against her for kicking the pecan pie from Mrs, Dyer one year ... but that is a different story.
Johnnie was simply special. He treated everyone with incredible respect, yet he took no crap from anyone ... except Sherry. He could tell a story about anything and keep you captivated and laughing the entire time but still had the ability to listen. He was generous with everything ... and as I would find out later, often times beyond his means. And he so enjoyed cooking ... and was very, very good at it.
When I met him I know I was relatively young because he wanted to play chess. He beats all his friends up in the Bay Area so he was going to take it easy on me. ten minutes later we were starting a new game and he decided to take me seriously. Six games later he decided it was time to start dinner and rethink his strategies.
His strategy was to teach me a new game ... Stratego.
I loved that man.
The three saddest moments in my life regarding him were (and not in order).
|Random silly pic|
- When Johnnie had a stroke. I never saw him after he stopped visiting, and I am a bit thankful because my memories are all of healthy and happy Johnnie, but knowing that he deteriorated and suffered was very painful.
- When Johnnie died. I cried. Every year he visited and cooked and made himself the target in the squirt gun fight and ... and ... ... I always said thank you. I was always was sincerely appreciative for all he did.
Ummm ... The truck I'm riding in.
I wonder if he ever knew how much he really meant to me.
I would love to see the look on his face if I told him about my transition. I have no doubt that he would be supportive accept me, but oh would the comments fly. There would a lot of joking around and laughter, but he would be there for me ... just like always.
When I met Pam, we married before most of the family even knew we were dating. Johnnie treated her so wonderfully. We went fishing on a local lake ... a relaxation thing, not a "let's catch dinner" thing ... but we did catch some fish. In fact I reeled in one of the first fish of the day.
"Great job. Bring it into the boat," Johnnie barked. "Bring it into the boat."
I swung the pole with the fish wiggling away toward the back of the boat ... where the fish smacked Pam in the face.
|Butch and his father. On the hearth a|
picture of our first baby Rusty
Shortly after I met Pam I met her oldest brother Butch.
Butch immediately treated me like a member of the family ... of course that means he played practical jokes, made prank calls told dirty jokes and was an all around lovable lunatic.
Butch could talk the ears off a corn field ... he could sell sand to a man stranded in the desert ... but you could not find a person with a bigger heart if you were lucky enough to meet him. Too many times to count he made time to help me and Pam, whether it was getting tires for our cars or moving a trailer down to Los Angeles. He never asked for anything in return.
Butch had three daughters - Lisa, Julie and Janel. I regret that I was not a bigger part of their life as they were growing up ... but as I said earlier, I have never been very close to my family.
|Julie and Janel a tad bit younger|
I did visit him ... reluctantly. He didn't remember me. I will never forget him, but I try to focus on the healthy Butch.
I wish he were still alive I know exactly how the conversation would go with him. I would be sitting next to Pam on the couch and he'd be in a chair holding a cigarette. I'd nervously work my way toward the subject and say, "I'm transitioning to female."
"No shit?" Butch would laugh a bit and likely make an off color comment. "Don't be wearing none of them short skirts around me. I don't need to see that shit." He would keep us laughing until the evening ended.
Recently I have contacted Julie and Janel to inform them of my transition.
Janel also did not hesitate to accept me. I am blessed to have such loving nieces.
Lisa has distanced herself from many family members over the past few years ... she has her own issues she is dealing with. I do pray someday she will work things out.
Thank you to all my spectacular friends and family who read this blog.