Monday, May 28, 2012

Under One Roof

Well, it happened.  After much talk, and an ample amount of planning, Abel and I have combined our lives, and are now under one roof.

It's a big step, yet it feels like the right move.  My life couldn't be any more different than it was just two years ago.  I feel like a different person, having endured so much, and having gained so much.  For those in the know, I lost my late husband to a brain tumor in September 2009.  After many months of grieving in our home in San Francisco I decided what I needed, what my family needed, was a change of environment.  I sold the house, took an early retirement, and landed in sunny San Diego. 

Because my husband knew he was dying, he had plenty of time to reflect on our life together, and what he wanted for me in the future.  What he wanted, and what he truly believed would happen, was that I would find a new love, and that I live happily ever after.  As for me, it was difficult to imagine myself with someone else.  Yet that is what happened.  Almost two years to the day, I met Abel.

I love Abel with all my heart.  I can safely say, he loves me as well.  Our hearts, and our spirits, are quite in sync.  We seem to have a simple, uncomplicated love for each other.  There are challenges, yet those challenges are not between us.  The challenges we face as a couple have more to do with those we love the most.  His family, and my children.  At first glance Abel and I appear very similar.  We are both Mexican American men that come from big loving families, yet we come from very different religious traditions.  While my family has come to terms with my life as a gay man, his has strong convictions that are in conflict with who we are.  While Abel has grown to care very much about my children, being a part of a family of teens, a young adult, and a grandchild is a tall order for a new relationship.

How do we face these challenges?  We talk. 

How do we get through the tough times?  We support each other.

What is our plan?  It's simple. To love each other one day at a time.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Wedding Vows

On May 5, 1956 a young couple stood before each other in the presence of their family and friends to exchange the following vows:

I, Emilio, take you, Flavia, to be my lawful wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

I, Flavia, take you, Emilio, to be my lawful wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

There is nothing remarkable about these vows.  They have been spoken millions of times throughout the years by other couples in love.  Yet in the moment, at this point in every ceremony, there is a hush in the room.  It is at this moment that the two standing before each other become one in marriage.  It's a magical moment, one in which many of us dreamed of having.

I try to imagine my parents, young, feeling immortal in many ways.  Did they have the maturity, or foresight, to really look ahead and try to imagine how they were going to live out those vows?  Did they know that they would raise four young men, and be emotionally tested on a daily basis as they struggled to provide a united front when faced with the challenges of raising children?  Could they have known that for better or worse they would hang in there even at times when the sight of, or a word from, each other would make them want to scream or go running for the hills?

I often look back at the early photos of my parents, especially those they took during their courtship.  What I see is a young, beautiful and pure girl standing alongside of a leather jacketed, greasy slicked back haired, rough and tumbled sort of a guy.  It always confirms what I have often heard, that the right woman can tame the wildest of beasts.

My mother came from a very traditional Mexican Catholic family.  Her parents were very old fashioned, and protective, of their seven beautiful daughters.  They had two sons whose role was to always have a careful eye for whatever guy came sniffing around them.  My mother lost her mother early in life, so about the time my father showed up, there was only her father there to stand guard at the front door.  I can tell you this much, he had no interest in promoting the romance that was unfolding between his daughter and this hooligan of a guy. It wasn't until one day this young man showed up at his door, alongside his two parents, to ask for his daughter's hand in marriage that he saw beyond the rough exterior.

Oh how time changes everything, as by the time my brothers and I arrived, this young couple were living out their vows as they worked hard to provide a loving and spiritually guided home for their children.  As each of us sons grew to maturity we each had a clear vision, and understanding, of what type of relationship we wanted in our life as well.  We had lived day in, and day out, learning exactly what commitment meant.

My mother was a little ahead of her times.  She sort of broke the mold of what was expected from a traditional Mexican woman.  She sought an education, and in time found her vocation as an educator for high school and young adults.  She always balanced this with an impeccably kept home and delicious food placed daily on the table for our family dinners.  When we were sick, she cared for us.  When we excelled, she cheered us on.  When we faltered, she set us back on the right track.  And when she was tested, she always responded with unconditional love.

For many years my mother had been sick.  She endured ongoing hospitalizations, medical treatments and daily pain.  My mother suffered, yet she continued to make every effort to provide for all of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  In spite of her suffering, my mother always had a sense of pride and dignity.  My mother had these because of my father.

Sometime in the early hours of May 5, 2012, 56 years to the day,  a not so young woman lay beside a not so young man, in the presence of God.  They each had the wisdom to know that any day could be their last.  Neither took the other for granted.  Each laid there expecting to wake.  One did.  The other did not.

My father is a hero to everyone in my family.  My father has been there for my mother every step of the way.  For many years he met all of my mother's needs.  For many years he put my mother needs before any of his own.  For many years my father put his pride aside for the sake of hers.  As the children of this loving couple, we have many reasons to be thankful.  They have provided us with a strong foundation of love.  They have taught us what the word 'love' truly means. 

Committed love is not a fairy tale. It's not always easy or pretty. Committed love means you are there for it all.  Committed love means that you are willing to present yourself to your spouse with all your gifts and imperfections.  Committed love means you are willing to be there in sickness and in health, knowing that you may be the one standing alone when death does then part you.

I know that my mother is now at peace.  I know that my mother is now in the presence of God, and surrounded by the many that have passed before her.  I personally know of one angel who was there to greet her with a wide beaming smile and a round bald head.

Now we need to each step up and  be a constant presence for my father.  The days ahead of him will be very challenging.  My mother once told me that there could be nothing more difficult for her than losing my father.  After my husband died she felt it odd that one of her sons was already a widower, and was walking the grief journey before them.  Yet I believe it now gives her comfort knowing that someone will be there to provide guidance.

My gift, our gift, of thanks to our mother will be to see that we take on the commitment she made to our father that someone will be there for him in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Grandpa Dan

It's funny.  Even though I knew that at some point one, or all of my kids, would become parents themselves, I didn't really consider the fact that I would some day be known as Grandpa.  I don't know if it was a blow to my ego, with my continual effort to look and stay young, but the idea of being called "Grandpa" kind of scared me.  After all, just months before taking on this role I started a new relationship with someone several years younger than me.  Well, okay, maybe more than several years younger than me. 

Can you be sexy and be a Grandpa? 

My only image of being a grandpa is well, my my own father.  I look at him and realize, well, he's old! Or older.  Not a nice thing to say, but it's true.  For months I have worked hard at keeping up with Abel.  I want to look my best.  I don't want people walking by us down the street and think that I'm some kind of sugar daddy.  I die my hair, and most people say it takes 10 years off my age.  Well, that's what my hairdresser says, and I give him a rather sizable tip.  I put moisturizer on my lightly botox touched up face.  And I look youthful.  I went out and bought all new form fitting boxer briefs, because you have to look sexy getting in and out of your clothes!  Hey, why is there not an equivalent for men of women's granny panties?  If there is then I certainly don't want to be caught in those.  And as I strut about the bedroom without my shirt on, you can bet that I am using all my strength to suck in my ever growing gut.  Just don't ask me to talk, as I can't seem to talk and look fit at the same time.

All this to say that I had my trepidations about being a new grandpa.  How do I combine these two new roles; boyfriend and grandpa?  How do I balance these two new relationships, with my boyfriend Abel and my new grandson Kenyon? I think I needed some kind of sign that it would all work itself out, and that I would be able to strike that balance with the two new guys in my life.  Well, the gods spoke, the heaven's intervened, the cosmos and stars came into alignment, because my grand baby was born on Abel's birthday.  I ended up celebrating the birth day of baby Kenyon and the first of hopefully many birthday celebrations with Abel.


So, what's it like being a grandpa?  Wonderful.  It is the most loving and easy relationship I could have imagined.  I love him so much.  Everything he does is precious.  Every little look, sound and noise makes me smile. I love holding him, feeding him, changing him, and handing him off to his parents when he gets a bit too cranky.  It's such a great role that I get to play.  Being that the new little family reside in my home, I get to walk into the house everyday after work and lift that beautiful baby close to my heart. 

I breathe him in. 

He smells like new life!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I knew I couldn’t stay away from writing for long. I am one of millions of bloggers out here sharing more than others might need to know, yet needing to express myself somewhere. My focus this time around is different.  It’s still me, only this time I hope to be focusing on love, joy and most of all...hope.

I think that most who know me would agree with this blog title.  Most would say yes, Dan is quite able-minded.  I have a quick wit.  I like to consider myself somewhat intelligent. And, I make a daily attempt at keeping myself aware of the busy world around me.

At other times I think of myself as somewhat feeble-minded.  I don’t always know which way is up.  I’m not always focused on the task at hand. And, I have a tendency to easily get lost in my thoughts. 

What I do know is this…I know what I want out of life.  I have been through a lot over the years.  Some of what I have been through has been wonderful and rewarding.  Some of what I have been through has been tough to say the least.  I have loved.  And, I have lost love.  I have also loved, and had my love taken away too soon. 

What is important in the end is that I have loved.

What is important in the end is that I have been loved.

I now know that I am capable of so much.  I now know that there is an endless cycle of love in life for each of us.  I was brought into this world by two loving parents.  I was raised alongside three loving brothers.  I was raised in a community of loving friends and family.  I have developed rich and loving relationships throughout my life that continue to touch my heart every day. 

I am able-minded because today I can truly say that I understand that which I have set out to find.  For so long I was lost in my grief, and wondered if the joy and simplicity that I see in others was truly meant for me.  I now know that in spite of the challenges that I have had to face, life keeps giving back to me.  I now know that in spite of the challenges that I have had to face, I keep giving back to life.

I am also feeble-mind because like a fool, I have chosen to risk it all once again.  Some might have expected me to crawl under a rock, and hide from the sunshine.  Perhaps I did my share of hiding, as it was part of my process.  Some might have expected me to come out looking different than I do today.  To those that don’t always recognize the ‘me’ today as the ‘me’ that was before it all began, well, this is me now.  I view life differently now.  My understanding of the cosmos is different now.  My spirituality is expressed differently now. 

On September 13, 2009 my life changed.  On that day my husband’s battle with brain cancer ended.  My world fell apart.  I experienced a darkness that I never knew existed.  With each day that passed I attempted to climb out from the deep despair that I found myself sinking into.  I can’t say that it is no longer a struggle, because it still is.  What I can say is that I have made it to a new place of wonder.  I have found myself in a place that my late husband envisioned for me.  He used to talk of my next love in a very matter of fact way.  This is what he wanted for me.  I must admit that I never truly believe it would happen, or that I was capable of loving again, but here I am.

Today I am not only able-minded, but Abel-minded.  I have been with my new love for 7 months now.  He fills my heart with a warm gentle glow of love, and he encompasses a peacefulness that is so congruent with who I am today.  I see myself reflected in his eyes, and I like what I see.  This blog is about this next phase in my life.  Very soon Abel and I will be combining our lives.  We are making clear decisions about what kind of life we want together.  We are laying down plans for a future together.

Whether I am able-minded today or feeble-minded tomorrow, I have so much hope to carry me through.