Quote of the week:

“They'd have to shoot me to get me back to Illnois."

~Abraham Lincoln upon going to WDC to become president

Monday, May 26, 2008

Moments of Grace

Two unexpected things happened this weekend, that were really nice surprises. I call them moments of grace, removing any religious connotation to the term. Perhaps moments of Will and Grace.

First moment: Last week, I checked my voice mail on my land line (something I don’t do with any regularity). There was a message from a week before from Mike. Mike and I had been friends. I met him the first year I moved to Chicago, when we both joined the gay chorus. We even have the same birthday. We became fast friends. Just friends, nothing romantic. Eight years ago, something happened the ended the friendship. The details aren’t important for the purposes of this post. And, writing of them would break confidences that need not be broken. At the time it happened, I was deeply saddened. As the metaphor goes, the ball was in his court. I kept somewhat updated on him through a mutual friend. His voice mail indicated he’d just had dinner with said mutual friend, which was his impetus to call. I returned the call. We made plans to meet for coffee on Saturday at 9:00. We met. He opened by referencing said incident. I told him of my perception, the feelings it left me with, and why it upset and hurt me so deeply. He apologized. It’s amazing how the two simple words, “I’m sorry”, when spoken sincerely have the ability to melt away an iceberg 8 years in the making. We sat and talked for over 3 hours, with plans to get together and do Chicago “summer activities”. I truly thought we’d never speak again.

Second moment: Upon returning home, I par chance checked my land line voice mail. There was a message from my “MUPM”—My Upper Peninsula Mom. She and “MUPD” –My Upper Peninsula Dad, were visiting their daughter MB, who lives on the south side. I was a ‘bridesman’ in her first wedding. When I was in grad school, I became good friends with both of their daughters. They lived not too far away. MUPD is a retired United Methodist Minister. But, he does not fit the mold of “stodgy, prudish minister”, which often comes to the front of your brain, when you hear “minister or preacher”. MB is best friends with one of my grad school housemates, DJ. DJ, and I by extension got invited annually to what came to be known as “Birthday Fest” for MB’s (and her sister KT’s) respective birthdays. They ‘adopted’ me, and I became “Their Gay Son”, at a time when my relationship with my family of origin was not in a good place, post-coming out. Through various moves they have been MIM/MID (My Iowa Mom/Dad); MIOM/D My Other Illinois Mom/Dad); and now MUPM/D My Upper Peninsula Mom/Dad. I did not get to see them before the last move from Illinois to Michigan last year.
Here was MUPM on my voice mail, saying they were in town at MB’s, and DJ was there too. They would drive (since I no longer have Gary) from the far South side to the far North side and take me to dinner if I was free. I’m So glad I checked the VM. I called back, and the plans were set. The homo gods were looking down upon me, as I had made an extra chocolate pound cake and had it in the freezer from the last time I bake for book group a few weeks ago. So, we could go out for Asian food, and return to my place for dessert. MUPM is a retired Home Ec teacher, so I couldn’t (well I could, but I WOULDN’T) serve something store bought. One of the things I love about this family, is that they are all very quick witted, and zingers and one liners fly from all of us. It’s always a great sparing match of words and wit, and we laugh. Oh how we laugh. They make me feel like I matter--Even now that I’m a godless heathen. MUPD told me once that I was mentioned in one of his sermons when he was guest preaching somewhere.
Aside from the love and affection I hold for this, my ‘other’ family, my “family of choice”. I have the utmost regard and respect. This family’s health travails rival, and surpass my own. MUPD & MUPM are both cancer survivors. MB is a cancer survivor, having just had surgery in December for kidney cancer. KT’s son, is a cancer survivor, having had a rare liver cancer when he was only 2. He’s 11 now, if memory serves. He was truly a miracle child. MUPD just lost a sister to cancer. His Dad had cancer. Through all of these, they maintained their faith, spirit, and belief in a benevolent god, that I relinquished or so long ago. The only thing missing was KT and her family, who are in the UP. In fact, MUPD has written a book, "Now That I Have Cancer, I am Whole" ISBN 978-0-7407-6372-4.
MUPD is the only person who knows me personally that reads my blog. I have intentionally not let other family and friends knowledge of its existence.

After some pretty major losses in the last few months, these were great 'finds'.

3 comments:

GDad said...

Good deal on renewing an old friendship.

Make new friends,
But keep the old.
One is silver,
And the other is gold.

Hey, did you ever attend a GALA conference when you were in the Chicago chorus? You might have seen me in 1996 (Tampa), 2000 (San Jose), 2002 (Cincinnati), or 2004 (Montreal).

gay CME guy said...

gdad:

Thanks. I have no illusions of the friendship being 'just like before'. But, whatever it is, if it's good, I'll accept it.

I was in Tampa in 96. It was my only GALA. I sang with Windy City Gay Chorus. My primary memory was that we did a haunting, kicked ass version of Barber's Adagio, acapella, in 8 part harmony. And, I think it was Delaware's chorus who did a commissioned piece of "Prayers for Bobby". There was not a dry eye in the house. I took a leave of absence when I had my first shoulder surgery in Spring of 2000. That ended up being the beginning of my protracted health nightmare, and never returned. I think GALA 96 was the pinacle for WCGC. The numbers have dwindled. My biggest regret (of which I had no control) is that I was FINALLY starting to feel like a contributing singer. I was starting to get confindence in my voice. It was incredibly intimidating to be surrounded by 100+ men, many of whom were professionally trained musicians. I always felt like an imposter. When I left, my sight singing was better (up from non-exisitent); and my voice and vocal range was pretty good. I sang lower baritone. Are you still singing?

GDad said...

Sorry - took a while to get back to you. GPop and I stopped singing back in December, 2005. We have been devoting our time to family matters, so we're less inclined to do that.

Someday, perhaps.