Today, June 28, 2009 is the 30th Anniversary of the Stonewall riots, often cited as the first instance where homosexuals fought back against oppression. For 25 of those years, I have been a gay activist, although age and decreased energy have diminished my passion. For several years now, my church, Trinity Episcopal Church in St. Louis, under the leadership of Rev. Anne Kelsey, has held a “mass on the grass” under a large tree in the corner of Tower Grove Park, the current site of St. Louis Pride activities during the last weekend in June. I have been to every one of these masses, and wasn’t about to miss this one. I even proudly wore my original tee shirt from the first full pride celebration April 12-20, 1980, although it has shrunk, and I have not.
A week and a half ago I wrote my first blogsay (= blog essay) on caregiving. I talked about my several month commitment to maintaining this household while my partner recovers from surgery and complications, and some of my own limitations that I have had to overcome or deal with.
I’ve noticed that in the 10 days since that last post, I haven’t felt that I had a thing more to say to (my miniscule corner of) the blogosphere. It’s like whatever little bit of creativity or expression I have is all used up just in the day-to-day operation of the house. And it’s not like there haven’t been things worthy of commentary: the election, protests and repression in Iran, more seamy dirty laundry from the politicians, continued economic crisis. It’s just that it’s possible to be so totally absorbed by supporting another’s healing, that there is just not enough left to share elsewhere.
For the last few months, I have more and more been drawn into a situation of caregiving for my life partner. First his hip deteriorated, then there was the hip-replacement surgery, and then an additional recovery from a severe drug reaction. For a long time, I thought I couldn’t write about this on a blog, because it’s just too personal and private for Stephen, and also at times the experience has been an emotional roller coaster for me. Now here I am writing about it. I think it is okay to do so for several reasons. For one thing, my experience is not all that different in challenging character from that of millions nationwide and perhaps even billions worldwide. For another, I have found my way to composure and dignity in doing this service, and perhaps that may be helpful and comforting to others. And finally, this has been an incredible journey of self- AND other-discovery, and I want to talk about it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my maternal grandmother for the last few days. I think maybe I will write a eulogy for her. I’ve already written a lot of what my mom told me about Clara Ida Noe Sullivan in my genealogy website. I’ve tried to be objective about things there. But I want this to be a eulogy from a loving grandson to the only grandparent he ever knew—and incidentally, a grandmother whose eulogy from her daughter (my mom) you wouldn’t want to read.
I ran away to my grandmother, Clara’s house when I was five years old. I didn’t like the way things were going up on Quarry Street, so I packed my suitcase, announced my departure and designated destination, and marched the two blocks down the steep hill and the three more down Greene Street to the rooming house she was minding for my dad, which was across the street from my elementary school. I don’t really remember the details—this is one of mom’s stories—but it must be clear that I felt really comfortable with and trusted Clara.
TigerCity got me to thinking last night. I started out by thinking I disagreed with him, but now I’m not sure how much to disagree. So a good way to clear my thoughts is to write about it. He tells us that he isn’t really impressed by most of the life goals that turn other people’s cranks. Money? No. Influence? No. Ambition? Nope. Doing what you love doing? He doesn’t think so. He thinks the only logical measure of success in life is augmenting the gene pool; making babies. To be sure, and to fair, he does mention “prolonging the life of the species.” But right now, he says, he’s a failure, because he hasn’t yet “managed one sprog.”