Monday, June 17, 2013

Father's Day

Note:  I wrote this yesterday, on Father's Day, but I didn't know if I should post it.  Tonight, I read Liz's post, and told her:  Wow - it's like we wrote the same thing!  So, I'm going ahead and publishing this entry, and although Liz's writing is more descriptive, I think you'll see that we were on the same page.  

Oh, and mine is even MORE late. 

It's Father's Day and facebook is filled with posts about dads.  I just lost my dad on May 14, and it leaves me without anyone to parent me.  This past Mother's Day, I heard Garrison Keilor say, because he lost his mom last summer, "nobody feels much sympathy for a 70 year old orphan.".  I suppose that's true, but missing your Dad on Father's Day is universal once he's gone.  I sure miss mine.  

Looking at photos of my kids' dad on facebook,  I miss Ray. But I miss him in a different way because we don't have him around to share this Dad-honoring day with his grown-up kids.  

Ray is and always was a good dad.  Besides so many good qualities, Ray brought fun to our home, and took notice if I was too uptight or stern in keeping things in order.  (With four kids, who knew order?)  Ray always planned time for the kids, making tours around their school calendars way in advance.  We took trips keeping in mind what the kids would enjoy.  

One of Ray's specialities was helping Karen finish her science projects (which always ended up being done at the last minute), or achieve the "Super Reader Badge" from the Victory Drill Book.

When Phil was little, Ray said he'd rather be home every Friday night, watching "Dukes of Hazard" with 4-year-old Philip, than traipsing off to sing or be on the road.  He liked just being with his kids.

Ray called "Elizabeth" his little dandelion, because her super-curly hair practically floated away from her head.  He loved to brush and fix her hair - if she would let him.  

Sara, our 4th, came along, and Ray never let it show that financially things would be tighter than ever.  He just worked harder to make our family work.  Since we didn't have a separate nursery, and she shared our room for about a year or more, she sometimes would wake up if he came in from a concert late.  No matter, he just got her up - to PLAY!   

It's been a long time since Ray and I were bringing up those little kids.  Now there are six GRANDKIDS to watch, and it's up to our kids to be the parents.  YAY for that!  The little ones all know their Pappaw Ray lives in Florida.  They LOVE it when he visits them, taking them to McDonalds, or the zoo, or wherever the "fun place" is for the day.  They adore him and their faces light up when they see him.  

Now, not to be a downer, but not all divorced gay granddads are as fortunate.  Yes, some have abandoned their responsibilities, abandoned their families, leaving them in terrible straits.  And just as bad, some families ostracize the dad/grandpa/brother, etc., by shunning him for coming out after having had a family.  How awful. 

When Ray and I saw our first counselor after his disclosure, she asked me three questions:
1) How do you feel about being here?
2) Do you think if Ray prayed hard enough, that he could change to straight?
3) What do you see as the best possible outcome?

I was crying plenty as I tried to answer each question...
1) Awful
2) No
3) I wanted Ray close enough to still enjoy our kids.  I didn't want to make him stay around so long that we became bitter, and I couldn't bear that we'd end up fighting and hating one another.  Mostly, I hoped that we'd still be family.  

I would say that we've done a pretty good job to accomplish #3.    

 It could have been different, but  even though he had to miss some events, when he was home he played video games,


Jim said...

Carol - Thank you. As the one who is gay and married it is good to know that there is hope on the other side.

jacqui lenhardt said...

I'm here because a friend gave me a copied tape of Rays back in the mid 90's. I lost the tape; but this year in VBS we were teaching the kids about Paul. I said does anyone remember that song about Paul and Silas...No one could help me. Tonight I resolved to find it and I did on youtube. I was looking at the comments and saw that Ray is gay. I was surprised; but it didn't change the fact at all that his music is wonderful. So insomniac that I am, I found this page. When I was younger I lived in Utah and was LDS. I found out that the bishop that baptised me and my family was gay. He had 8 children. It was quite a shock to the community and I remembered a conversation I had had with the bishops wife when I was 14. She asked me about my parents divorce, I told her my feelings, at that time she already knew about her husband and was deciding what to do. She was worried about her family. How painful it must have been for her. I admire you. I don't know why these things happen any more than I know why my brother had a TBI when he was 15 and was in a coma for 3 months. It changed my family forever. Things happen and I believe someday we will know. I'm going to buy a legal copy of your Rays CD tomorrow. Thank you

Lee Elder said...

Sorry about your Dad. I'm thankful mine is still around.