I found out Uncle Jimmy was HIV positive in 1989.
I was 20 years-old and had known he was gay for 2.5 years. It wasn’t ever a secret or something that was hidden from my sisters and I.
We visited him at his place in San Francisco many times but for some reason it never occurred to me that the guy who shared his bed was his boyfriend.
I just didn’t think about it and since no one made a big deal of them it never occurred to me that there was anything going on.
The funny thing is that my Uncle Mike was also gay and it never occurred to me that the guy he brought to every party was his boyfriend.
Uncle Mike and Peter lived in the same town as us, so we saw them a lot.
So the common theme here is that your old friend Jack was oblivious to some things, not that it matters because I never cared one way or another about their sexuality.
No one in the family did, they were part of our lives.
I loved my uncles and was happy to see them.
It’s More Than Just Another Father’s Day
The kids told me Father’s Day is this Sunday and wanted to know if I wanted to do anything special.
I asked them what they wanted to do and they told me that since both of their grandfathers are out of town I get to make the decision.
If I really was given what I want I’d bring Uncle Jimmy and Mike over to the house to hang with my dad and grandfathers but that is not possible.
Uncle Jimmy died in 1994.
It was an ugly death, AIDS or should I say complications from it made the last chunk pretty nasty. He handled it pretty well, but it wasn’t the way anyone should go.
Uncle Mike died six or seven years ago at the ripe old age of 91, definitely a far cry better than Uncle Jimmy’s 49 years.
And since both of my grandfathers have been gone for five and 10 years respectively there is no way to bring them by either.
That shrinks the guest list down dramatically and the few family members that I would definitely invite are out of town so it is a different sort of Father’s Day this year.
Kind of reminds me of 2013 when I spent Father’s Day by myself in Texas, but it will be better because the kids will be with me this time around.
And given the fact that we are going to be moving soon well, this will definitely be a different day and could mark the last of one way and the first of another.
If I were a sailor and the blog was my ship I’d climb up my mast and get as close to the stars as I could get and commune with whatever powers that be.
Wouldn’t matter to me if the sea was calm or stormy, I’d be up there fighting my natural urge to lower my horns and trample or gore whatever crosses my path.
I’d learn how to move with the rocking of the sea and not come down again until I found my sense of balance.
And somewhere in the midst of it all I’d find those that have moved on to wherever it is we go after we slip the bonds that tie us to this place.
That is not news to anyone who reads these words with any regularity because you already know I miss them all and would like to have the conversations we never did get to.
Some of those didn’t happen because I wasn’t smart/aware enough to ask and some because I hadn’t had enough life experience to know I should.
I’d tell them about some of the changes that have happend and those that haven’t yet. We talk about the moves I know I have to make and I’d explain why and what I hope to have happen.
But since those aren’t going to be a part of the festivities I’ll have to close my eyes, center my thoughts and have the sort of silent communion in which I wonder what they might say and think about what I expect it would be.
I figure midway through I’ll hear my maternal grandfather laugh and say that I always do what I want so there is no reason to ask for advice.
My paternal will nod his head and smile and tell me I know what to do and then I’ll go do it.
And I’ll do it knowing I have their complete support and a wistful smile will break across my face because my biggest cheerleaders only live in memory.
The End Game/Goal
The end game/goal is to live the kind of life that makes my children and whomever comes after miss me the way I miss these other men.
It is to die at an old age feeling like I did my best to leave no stone unturned and to have made the kind of impact I know I am capable of making.
To have been the kind of father the kids celebrate for more reasons than I just happen to be their dad.
This shouldn’t be taken as a morbid or sad post because I am not sad.
I might miss these people and wish they were here but I have a library of outstanding memories to draw upon and part of the purpose of this blog is to catalog some of them.
It is to let my kids know that I drop dead tomorrow I’ll be disappointed because I have a million things I still want to do but I’ll also know that I lived hard and that makes a difference.
And they’ll see notes and stories here that help them understand that while they may not have always liked, agreed or appreciated every decision I made they were always a part of them.
The goal has always been to do things that help me provide a better life for them filled with richer and deeper experiences and though I have some regrets, overall I am pretty good with what I have done.
I am a good dad, but there is always room for better, always a reason to follow Coach Lombardi’s advice to chase perfection so that we can achieve excellence.
The adventure continues.