14 thoughts on “Weekend Question Thread

  1. I have great parents. Mom has been volunteering for months for the county Democrats, doing data entry, marching in parades, canvassing. For several years in the early 90s, when I was still living at home while going to college, she and I were pollworkers together for our precinct. We sing together in a chorus, we’re singing in a quartet again, and I just love being around her.
    My dad is a retired theater professor. He is acting regularly in dinner theater productions, and also works as a standardized patient for CU’s medical school (he helps train future doctors in how to get information from patients, how to get a good bedside manner, etc.). He gave me my love of Shakespeare.
    They’re both great role models. They taught me to respect other people and they instilled in me a love of reading, music, and education. They’ve been married for 43 years now, in spite of the occasional rough patch.
    Everything I do, I do to try to make them proud.

  2. divorced when i was around 4. which was a-ok, cause the paternal unit is a dittohead racist publikkkan. i had uncles and grandfathers. haven’t seen him since his father’s funeral in 2003. oh, did i mention the step-monster he married when i was around 12? soap loving idiot. i wish them ill.
    at least no step siblings. thank GOD she didn’t breed.

  3. Things were very bad early on. Young virgin Catholics get married at 21 & 23 – he’s the baby of his family, thinks the world is an easy place because he was Mommy’s favorite. She is a polio survivor with few external signs of its damage – all her wounds are from abandonment becauseher dad left for months at a time (merchant marine) during her illness.
    Dad knocks Mom up four times in four years (one miscarriage), going blithely off to work every day, first at a bank and then, after night law school, to the firm, staying away for 14-16 hours a day, while she falls further and further behind the energy and psychological balance curve. Dad’s own mom handled 3 kids fine, why can’t she?
    Basically I grew up with lots of screaming and being told many times that I was one of the three kids she never should have had. So imagine the joy of the three siblings, at 8, 10 and 11, when Dad announces that Mom is “with child.” She’s told us in no uncertain terms that she shouldn’t have had three kids and now there’s going to be a fourth.
    Mom basically turned over the raising of our younger sister to my older sister and me. I used to think E. was probably better off for it, though you can’t really miss that your Mom has abandoned you when you’re living under the same roof. Then Mom left home to go to sleep-away law school when E. was in 9th grade. But again, is it better to be raised by a Mom who resents you, with borderline narcissistic personality disorder, or to be abandoned by her?
    Anyway, fast-forward fifteen years, and M&D are very happy and healthy in their empty nest, and with two lawyer’s salaries they’re enjoying themselves quite a bit, and they are very generous with us. The three older sibs have to come to terms and have the kind of relationship with our folks you might have with a close uncle & aunt.
    But poor E. is still struggling in the wilderness to find what she never had; she’s been married and divorced and is nominally adult but can’t cut the love/hate cord that binds her to the Mom she never really had in the way she needed her. E. sends me mother’s day cards every year as I was the nurturing one in her life, but I think that’s more a slap to our mom than anything else. I hope she can find a way to get past it.
    The irony is the three older sibs went through what seemed like the worst of it: the screaming, being verbally disowned on a regular basis, being told that we were the reason for our mother’s misery, and never living up to her impossible standards. But it’s the one who didn’t face that daily gauntlet who was the most damaged.

  4. Mom is a retired school teacher from New Iberia, Louisiana–her family is Cajun French & Spanish (lots of people forget the early Spanish presence down here); Dad was of mostly Irish background and originally from Columbus, Indiana–unfortunately he died not quite four years ago. He met my mom while stationed at a military base in New Iberia, and was a career military officer (U.S. Navy aviator, and a VERY good one.)
    Both mom and dad were/are conservative Catholics, mom getting even more so over the years. Long story as to how my views turned 180 degrees on both religion and politics. Despite the political differences, I love both my folks and the family misses dad quite a bit. I can’t think of a single day that I haven’t thought about him since he passed on.

  5. My folks were aces (except for one thing to be covered later). Progressive, Culturally aware, Spiritually aware (Mom) and huge supporters of Civil Rights back in that time. Dad became a Labor leader and mom was just the Earth Mother.
    I owe my worldview to those two people. They taught me well. They prepared my to live in a diverse Culture.
    Mom died in ’71, and I couldn’t save her. CPR didn’t work, Dad was in shock (he never recovered from his beloved Annie dying) & the ambulance took 45 minutes to show up. I became Mom the moment they took her body away.
    Later dad married the redneck bitch from Hell. She hated us kids for being inter-racial (hence the divorce from my Creole family) & me for being an independent since I worked F/T & was the top student in my High School. Dad was not his old self, but he did lay down the law- I was to be left alone. I paid room & board, paid some of their bills, bought my own clothes & stuff & owned my own car. My sibs & steps still looked to me for advice & comfort. I was a defacto Mom in my Mother’s ways.
    Only one thing mars this history- neither of them told me the truth about my Being. I was 13 when she died, so I probably wasn’t ready for the truth that I was born Intersexed & was “assigned” as Male. My father tortured me verbally in my teen years about my feminine body & mannerisms. I didn’t see or talk to him for 12 years (until I told him that next time he had to call me). He died in ’95.
    I followed my heart in 2001 with my Transition to being female, & over the years, (& learning the truth about my birth) I have increased my respect for my Mother who protected & taught me many things, especially those that apply to my current life. I’m also beginning to understand my Father’s situation- the eldest child must be male, & he was proud of the things I did, but the thought of me being female horrified him. I have forgiven him for not knowing how to tell me the truth when I was barely keeping things together with my battle over Gender issues. He died calling out for me.
    Overall, my folks did the best they could. If they had been of lesser quality I’d probably be a mess or dead. I have the greatest respect for them, & I really wish they were around to see the product of their efforts.
    Here’s to Annie & Dave- I do love you.

  6. My father literally flew airplanes with John McCain.
    Literally. They were in different squadrons, but flying the same plane (before McCain flew jets – circa 1960-61?). Back when the Cuban missile crisis happened my dad had the distinction of sitting on the deck of an aircraft carrier, hooked up to the catapult for two or three hours at a time. Oh, and by the way, he had a tactical nuke on board. If he was launched off the boat – then that was it. He spent the Vietnam War training the SVAF to fly a bunch of planes we were about to give them. He retired from the Navy reserves as a Commander after 32 years (16 active). He was also an airline pilot (727 to 757/767).
    My dad is involved in the community and (remarkably like John McCain) is just the kind of guy you want deeply involved with – but not leading – any given project, for the sake of the feelings of all parties involved. The kind of decisiveness that keeps you alive in a carrier based bomber or a commercial airliner is indispensable, but it is not the same kind that’s helpful in building consensus.
    Early in their marriage my mom was in the secretarial pool for the Joint Chiefs in the Pentagon. There’s a funny joke that my dad flew nuclear weapons around the world, but my mom had a higher security clearance. She was a Navy wife after that, then a stay at home mom for my 2 older siblings and I. She did a great job, as my dad was very often on deployment when my siblings were younger, and on 3-4 day trips when I was growing up.
    Currently my mom is battling ovarian cancer, diagnosed over the summer. She is taking it head on, and fortunately my fathers career of service has provided literally the best health insurance I have ever heard of.

  7. Mom had me when she was going on twenty. At the time, she was married to my father, and it went bad due to his abuse. I don’t know the extent of it – all I know is from a cigar box I found hidden away in a forgotten drawer in my grandparents’ house. Don’t even know what has happened to the box itself as, after my grandmother died, Granddaddy remarried shortly after and moved in with my stepgrandma E, who as far as I’m concerned, has woken him up and is keeping him delightfully alive and kicking. I spent early childhood being raised by my grandmother while Mom finished college and worked in another town nearby, until she found another job further south when I was four and moved me down there with her.
    It was there, in a laboratory, she met the man who raised me, the man I consider to be my dad. They were of different religions, and Mom converted to Judaism shortly before she married Dad. It was a Southern Presbyterian marrying a New York Jew, and my grandfathers on both sides were fine with it, but the grandmothers were in some hysterics. I’m not sure if Grandmother ever, deep down, accepted Dad fully, but she was raised to be a polite Georgia woman and, by God, she was at least going to be polite and mannered to her youngest daughter’s second husband – until the day she went crazy and spouted all kinds of horrible names at him when Mom, Dad, my younger brother and I were visiting over Thanksgiving when I was still in college. The woman I began calling Grandma (my Dad’s mother) when I was five has her flaws as well, but she always loved us all, and loves us still. Ironically, when she first heard about Dad wanting to marry a divorcee shiksa with a kid, she was told by her aunt, a very Orthodox Jew, to put those feelings aside about intermarriage wreaking havoc on a family. “Do they love each other?” “Yes.” “Is she converting?” “Yes” “Then, nu, what’s the problem?”
    Dad is a PhD of biochemistry and is currently the head of Cell Biology at a major university, and Mom is a research technician who shoulda gone for her doctorate and must still harbor some regret at not having been able to do that when she was younger. Dad adopted me, so I had his name when I got married. They just had their thirtieth anniversary. It’s been a long, winding, wild and woolly road that keeps going on with them. Mom still worries like a champ about all sorts of things, but she is also one of the proudest people alive of my achievements and of my brother’s. Dad is a mush, deep down, but he has thrown himself into so much with gusto – gardening, wine collecting, personal computing almost from its beginning, synagogue presidency, confronting legislators about teaching creationism on a par with science in the public schools (Dad thinks it’s asinine, and he’s also been keeping tabs on what’s been going on with it here in Louisiana) – and he loves his grandson so, so much.
    Damn, I’m gonna run off and cry for a bit now…

  8. Well, let’s see. Dad was an Episcopalian priest who happened to be a cross-dressing substance abuser. Mom left him when I was three, took us kids with her. Eight years later, she dropped us off with Catholic Charities for six months while she had a baby fathered by a substance-abusing degenerate. Somehow my siblings and I turned out relatively okay: a physician, a lawyer (me), a P.E. teacher, and a registered nurse. We have some mental-health issues, but we’re successfully dealing with them.

  9. My dad’s a retired commercial pilot, ex-RCAF, and a bit of a bastard. We don’t get along very well — he’s very conservative about a lot of things and a military hawk, and not much of a critical thinker. He’s prone to believing anybody he thinks is an authority figure (which can be any male loudmouth in the media), which translates to his having a lot of opinions he’s picked up from anybody from Rush Limbaugh (my folks used to watch his tv show when he was on up here and rave about how “funny” he was, jesus tits) to Art Frickin’ Bell, fer squid’s sakes. He’s also a bit of an unreconstructed “male chauvinist pig,” in my mom’s words, but at the same time, he’d be seriously pissed if sexism got in my or my sister’s way, and he does yoga, drinks mint tea, and writes poetry. (He even won a poetry contest in a prestigious Canadian poetry journal!)
    My mom is a bit of an enigma wrapped in a mystery. She’s superficially pretty socially liberal — quite a feminist for a woman of her generation who wasn’t ever involved with the feminist movement; her opinion on same-sex marriage is “So what? What does it matter to me?”, and so on, but she’s an admitted white supremacist (although she’d never treat a nonwhite person she knew worse than a white person), and generally thinks that most nonwhite people are…well, like every stereotype of welfare-abusing, fast-breeding, et cetera et cetera you ever heard. (Somehow she managed to pass this on to my sister, who I heard repeating something that originated as KKK propaganda. I thought, “Where did you getthat?!)
    I don’t have a tremendously cordial relationship with the folks, being as I’m an anti-authoritarian, perpetual skeptic who leans way left and we often get into arguments about things…

  10. Not enough pixels to describe my parents, but they were honorable, they were grand, and I am humbled to be their daughter.
    Oh, and I miss them like fire to my feet.

  11. I have two families – the one that produced me and the one who raised me. My birthmother was 12 when she got pregnant and 13 when she had me. Her small hometown on the Mississippi gulf coast has covered over most of the folks who might be willing to talk almost thirty years later, but I’ve found some information through digging and outright dishonesty.
    She could’ve been abused by her father, a middle school band director, or she could’ve enjoyed the company of any one of a handful of men who’ve said they might be my father. I don’t know, and right now I don’t need to. Her story is that she was abused by her father, got pregnant, and her mother, who was a charge nurse at a nearby hospital, administered a saline abortion at 7 months. I was born, weighing 2.5lbs, with severe sepsis, and a punctured lung full of “contaminated fluid”. Was airlifted to Ochsner and in a NICU there for three months. Some time before I left the NICU, she named me and signed me away in a 48-hour span. The Catholic Diocese of Biloxi couldn’t afford to pay for me; neither could her parents. After a lot of wheeling and dealing, Ochsner got paid off. I received Medicaid benefits as Julie Christine McDaniel and was placed soon after with an Air Force family and named Christina Maria Novak.
    My parents had “applied” for children through the Diocese, their closest option, and the horribly named Sellers Agency in Slidell, almost a decade before. Diagnosed with Hodgkins just before he got married, my dad had successfully come through three rounds of chemo, and at least two rounds each of cobalt and some other sort of radiation treatment. Adoption was their only option; he was rendered sterile by the treatments. His health history made them high-risk applicants, and they ended up waiting eight years before a social worker with the Diocese placed the call in August. The young musician and his schoolteacher wife were more than willing to take in a five-month-old little girl who barely weighed 8 pounds. They weren’t told much, just that I’d been sick and that the angry scar the size of a fifty-cent-piece on my right chest was pretty routine for a preemie.
    I grew up knowing I was adopted and said and did things to Mom and Dad that I regret to this day. My parents are wonderful people and they are my Parents (I’ve never thought of the birthfamily as Mom and Dad) – but when I was younger I held my unknown parentage against them. I always thought they were comparing me to their phantom “real daughter” – the child they might’ve had. They adopted a second child when I was seven, my sister was placed through Sellers, and is short with dark red hair and alabaster skin. We look nothing alike. My parents are both dark, with mid-tone complexions and dark hair. I have blue eyes like my dad, but otherwise – I am the lanky, blonde, blue-eyed oddity in my family. Not looking like anyone I knew troubled me, and I taxed my parents by asking to drive through Ocean Springs and Pascagoula – in hopes that some strange blonde woman could be caught staring too long or looking too closely.
    My father the musician taught me theory and composition at the dinner table; I started violin at three and piano at five. We played games at the keyboard – the Goldberg Variations in retrograde? Sure. Transpose a Brahms Intermezzo and play it in the style of Mozart? Got it. We were our own “early-morning-on-Sunday-NPR-Music-Show”. I did sight singing in solfege and learned Guido’s hand. I spoke the language of music long before I read with ease. My mother the teacher meanwhile taught me to read, and I did so voraciously. We did crosswords together – first there were kids puzzles that she would bring home from school, then the grown up versions.
    As the child of teachers, I grew up, in a way, in school. Professional Development days for Mom meant a day at the college with Dad. I’d play Paganini or Lully for his first Music Appreciation class and then he’d give me the option of staying for theory or music history or whatever he had the rest of the day. If I didn’t want to, I could go sit in on just about any class I wanted – chemistry or microbiology, history, literature, or art. All the faculty knew me and knew I’d be quiet and attentive.
    I found Pam the week before I turned 19. She is short: small hands, small feet, 5’2″, with long blonde hair and blue eyes. She’s heavy and loud and had fought various addictions in the intervening decades. She is an astoundingly talented cook. She can’t tell the truth, and I can’t blame her. She asked me to call her Mom.
    Pam was in our wedding about a month after giving birth to my half-sister. Michelle has her father’s Colombian coloring but my and Pam’s wavy hair. Since the wedding, Pam has tried to get me to New York to visit, offering the only bribe she has: information. We don’t talk. I’ve gotten phone calls from four men who think they’re my father; none are willing to to go for a DNA test. I’ve talked to the man who is either my grandfather or my father and the woman who might’ve administered the unsuccessful late-term abortion. They think I want money.
    Dad died in April, and I miss him more than I thought possible. His cause of death was listed as the Hodgkins that almost killed him four decades before. Mom is making it. She’s tough, but I know she misses him. We talk once or twice a week and don’t talk about him. My sister is closer to home than I am and thinks she has to take care of Mom. It’s been five years since I’ve talked to Pam and I don’t need to, which makes all the fighting I did years ago with Mom and Dad seem petty, somehow. The “father-of-the-week” routine I’ve fallen into is odd, to say the least, especially now that Dad’s gone. I’d love to ask him what he thinks of all this, just like I’d love to share the new Hillary Hahn CD or the newly remastered Goldberg Bach partitas.

  12. My parents are both dead. My mother was great: beautiful, intelligent, handy and a great cook. She taught me that women could do anything so I’ve always liked strong and clever women.
    My father and I didn’t get along but I probably got my sense of humor from him. He was an uber-Republican so we fought about politics from 1972 until he died in 2002.
    They both lived into their mid 80’s so I expect to be a cranky old man some day. Get off my lawn, Athenae…

  13. Heh. My volk were dirty fucking hippies. After Vietnam era service as a naval medic, D met M through M’s brother (they were serving at the same medical center. Within four months of his discharge, they were married, D was in undergrad school, and the war protests began.
    It didn’t end there, though. I was marching on Washington before I was out of a stroller, complete with embrodered peace signs on my nappies. We marched against the war, for civil rights, and for the ERA.
    Of course, trying to go to school full time, raise a child and maintain your position on the FBI’s watch list put a strain on their marriage, so they split up for a while. M decided to go to school to become a nurse. D decided to work the land at a commune that included some ladies with…’UGE tracts of land. My grandma kept me during the day. M got her degree, the allure of cleaning the chicken coop wore off for D and they remarried each other. D promptly began grad school, we relocated, and I began the task of trying to work through all the strangeness of school, divorce and remarriage, and the constant encouragement to be a political activist in kindergarten.
    I’ve always had some issues with D, mainly because we are so much alike. But I’ve always been extraordinarily proud of him. Teaching never worked out for him, as its hard to get tenure when you’re opinionated and not inclined to keep your mouth shut. M worked in nursing for thirty years, gathering up a degree in busienss and hospital administration while she was at it. Now that they are looking forward to retirement, they’re goal is to spend teir time riding Harleys through the country, thirlling all of their grandaughters whenever they roar up to the door. They are megafun grandparents.
    What can I say-if I do half as well with my own family, raising children who are empathetic, connected and vested in the well being of their world, generous and strong…well, I’ll be doing pretty damn good.

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