Monday, October 15, 2012

To our son on his wedding day.

To our son on his wedding day:

     Deb and I, of all people, know how important this day is for you. You have been blessed to find a wonderful woman to spend the rest of your life with. We are extremely honored that you asked us both to stand with you, as you take her hand. We love her almost as much as you, (wink) but you’ll always be our baby boy. We will always remember the little curly-haired blonde with a wooden sword in your hand, a wooden dagger in the belt around your bent waist, while you knelt at the base of the steps to let the ladies pass. You even added a “M’lady” to your bow. You were precious then and even more so now. Our Prince has found his Lady, now for the happily ever after.
     We are very proud of the man you have become. We hope you know that. You are kind and loving, sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, judge people by their character and not some prescribed social agenda, and most important, you realize that this does not make you less of a man. If anything, in our eyes, it makes you a much stronger male role model. You are more loyal than a dog, and tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, as some of your friends will attest. You openly express your feeling for your loved ones, and I’m sure you are loved by many in return. Really, you turned out much better than we could have hoped, because it was touch and go there for a while, but wow, what a great kid you turned out to be.
     You are lucky to have found a woman that appreciates those things in you, but we think she’s pretty lucky too. We couldn’t be happier with your choice. She is definitely a keeper. We’ve watched you two for ten years, so we know it’s a solid match. Our wish for you both is lots of love and laughter. We think we set a pretty good example for you, despite what the Family Research Council, NOM, or the rest of the far right thinks. We hope the things you learned about relationships from watching us are that trust should never be an issue, honesty is always the best policy, and that no matter how bad things can get, the down times don’t last long when you remember how blessed you are.
     You are blessed, both of you. Many people search their whole lives for the kind of love you share. There is nothing you two cannot do, as long as you stick together. Love is stronger than anything else life can throw at you. Lean on each other, when you have to. Hold the other one up, when they need it. (Trust us, knowing someone is there to catch you when you falter is worth its weight in gold.) Lead the way, when the other is afraid. Be willing to walk behind, when the other is sure of the way. Walk hand in hand when neither is sure, together you can find the path. Our best advice to you both is to remember the three Ls, listen, laugh, and love.
     On the day that you were born, I wrote this song in your baby book. It was my wish for you. Sadly, the book was destroyed in a flood, but the sentiment remains the same. Deb and I will always think of you as our little Prince and are so happy you’ve found your Lady. We love you beyond measure and wish you a life filled with happiness. I think Bob Dylan said it best, so I leave you with these words.

"Forever Young"
Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young

May you stay forever young.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Matthew's Mother

October the twelfth is my son’s birthday. He will be twenty-eight this year and he’s getting married on the twentieth. He asked my wife (she raised him since he was almost three) and I to stand with him when he gets married. It’s a big month for him and us. I couldn’t help but think about another mother on this day, Matthew Shepard’s. October the twelfth means something totally different to her. On October 12, 1998 her beautiful son left this world, the victim of hate and violence. My heart breaks for her.
There will be no more birthdays for her son. She won’t ever go to his wedding, hold his child, see him grow into the wonderful man she hoped would find love and happiness in his life. Hate took all that away from Matthew’s mother.
I read things today that make me sick to my stomach. Religious leaders calling for our heads, literally saying we should die. Politicians using our rights as bartering tools, or playing to ignorance to drive people to the polls, all in the name of protecting “family values.” Here’s a thought, I believe murder was at the top of the list of “thou shall not” in that bible you so freely quote. Hate is certainly not a family value in my home. You go ahead and preach your hate, encourage violence, and when you meet your maker, may he have mercy on your bigoted, hate-filled heart. I’d like to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.
“Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I’d love to be able to forgive these hate mongering people and let them meet their own fate, but then I think about Matthew and his mother. I think about the kids being bullied by others who were taught to hate by adults. I’ve worked with kids for many years. Trust me. They have to be taught to hate. It is not an inherent genetic predisposition. That little gay slur you said in the car follows that child to school and comes out of their mouths. They don’t know why they hate gay people. They just know their parents do, so they should to. Congratulations haters, you’ve created another bigot. I just hope you’re there to stop them when that hate grows to murderous intent. Parents create these monsters and then seem shocked that it went that far. Of course, Little Johnny was brought up in a “Christian” home, they just forgot that part about thou shalt not kill.
I could forgive the haters, if I could stop thinking about that lonely kid in the back of the class. There isn’t anything wrong with that kid that a little love couldn’t fix. That child is beautiful and deserves a chance to have birthdays, get married, have a family, pursue happiness in whatever form it be. Bless their hearts. They have to listen to preachers condemning them for loving someone. They have to endure slurs and violence. They have to take on things that would bring most adults to their knees. No, I don’t forgive the haters.
So, while I’m celebrating the beautiful gift I was given twenty-eight years ago, I will think of Matthew’s mother. I will hug my son a little harder. That one will be for Matthew. I will shed tears, and they will be for his mother. I can’t think of anything worse than having to bury a child. Matthew’s mother’s grief was compounded by the senselessness of his death. Do you still think words can’t hurt? Do you still think hate speech is just hot air? Do you think that hating someone because they were created different from you is just fine, as long as you can back it up with some ancient text? I don’t think Matthew’s mother thinks hate speech is harmless and neither do I.