Archives for posts with tag: daddies

A little over ten years ago, we were living different lives in different cities.  If you had told me that I would meet the man that would become my boyfriend, then my partner, and that we would begin creating our life & our family together, I’d have told you to take another hit off of whatever drug you were obviously doing.  But, ten years later, I have a very different perspective & can see that Life or God or The Universe, or whatever you choose to believe in, has a way of offering us opportunities when we least see them coming.  And, these opportunities combined with commitment, loyalty & a good dose of understanding, can lead you down some beautiful paths.

Young Martin & Randy

Young Martin & Randy

The beginning can be summarized as: we met,  we fell in love,  Randy relocated, we maintained separate households.  I began to learn what it is to become part of someone else’s family.  I’d never experienced something quite like this before.  Randy had been married and has a set of fraternal twins (a boy & a girl), now thirty years old.  So, this process, while a little scary, was something with which he was familiar.  However, for me, it was uncharted waters.  We had talked, very loosely, about what we both wanted for the future.  At the end of my bachelor days, I didn’t envision having babies or anything that would interrupt the me-time I loved so much (after all, it takes a lot of effort to look this fabulous).  Frankly, it was more fun to hang out with Randy’s kids, since they were technically adults.  It seemed like more fun to have a drink with them than to stay home & change diapers and deal with crying babies (although, some may say that they’ve seen their share of crying babies in the forms of drunk & obnoxious adults in bars).  So, for the first few years, it was relatively easy.  We began establishing what our life together would be: some of my friends became his friends too, made new friends together, attended events together, rented a new place together, bought a house that I could obsess over, all the while the kids were maneuvering through their twenties.  These kids became adults & my bond with them, my love for them, grew more than I could have realized.  I would swell with pride when they earned promotions at their jobs, bought homes, and especially, when they started having babies of their own.

One of my favorite pictures; such a sweet moment...

One of my favorite pictures; such a sweet moment…

Me & my step-son, attending his first Atlanta Pride with us c. 2005

Me & my step-son, attending his first Atlanta Pride with us c. 2005

Having babies around turned out to be fun.  We can have fun playing, showering them with candies & gifts, playing dress-up.  They’re cute & cuddly & can be so sweet.  They can also be little terrors that do things like scream in the car for a solid hour while you’re driving on vacation (and people used to say was difficult on vacations; they have NO idea).  Six years later, I am still learning how to say no & stick to it without inadvertently triggering a nuclear meltdown.

Hays perched on a rock in Cloudland Canyon in North Georgia

Hays perched on a rock in Cloudland Canyon in North Georgia

Hays, our granddaughter, can be credited with teaching me many, many lessons about the reality of dealing with babies.  She’s adorable, curious, funny & almost too smart for her own good.  In the beginning, people would stop & comment on her bright red, curly hair & ask how old she was.  I’d stumble over that question every time, stopping to count on my fingers or straining to do math in my head (which was never my strong suit) before realizing the intense glare of judgment that I was getting.  “Oh, no!  She’s not MY baby…she’s my…uh…my partner’s granddaughter.”  I never saw this dilemma coming: how to explain to complete strangers the complexity of the modern, gay, integrated family.  I had a lot of the same thoughts that many of us have: what if they’re ultra-conservative, what if they judge, what if they’re cruel, or even worse, what if say something that sets Randy off (he’s an impassioned-stream-of-consciousness arguer with confrontational bigots).  After much thought, I figured out the easiest way is the most direct, “oh, she’s my granddaughter.  My partner & I have a May-September thing going on…”.  Let them deal with it if they don’t like it.  This beautiful granddaughter & I will continue being just as fabulous as ever.

Being fabulous is exhausting.  Obviously.

Being fabulous is exhausting. Obviously.

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In The South, we spend a lot of time talking about our Mamas. They are very important, after all. They love us, guide us, nudge us, nag us & drive us crazy from time to time, but are always there to reinforce the strength of the maternal bond. Today though, it’s appropriate to focus on the often unsung heroes in our lives: our fathers.

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My great-grandfather, S.O. Hill, my grandfather, Herman (aka Papa Hill), Uncle Ed & last, but never least, my Daddy, JM Hill.

Fathers, or Daddies (pronounced deh-deez) as we call them in the South, are equally as important but are very comfortable letting Mamas shine. They do all of the things that Mamas do, in more subtle ways. My Daddy has always been there for me, even when I was difficult to be there for. He has shown unconditional love & acceptance, even when I’m sure I tried his last nerve. He is a man of few, but important, words & through his actions taught me how to be a man in this world. He taught me how to be strong, how to show love, what is truly important & what is just noise. Although I can’t recall the conversation word-for-word, when I came out I remember him saying, “you’re my son & I love you”. As anyone that has ever been terrified to reveal their true self to another can tell you, those are simple & extremely powerful words. In that moment, he talked about acceptance of a son that he didn’t understand, but that he loved & would spend the rest of his life protecting if necessary, with six little words. And while I may not need him to protect me anymore, I still remember how incredible that felt.

So, here’s to all of the fathers that love, accept, laugh, teach & protect. You’re great men, but you’ll never be as great as my Daddy.

I believe that what we become depends on

what our fathers teach us at odd moments,

when they aren’t trying to teach us.

We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.

-Umberto Eco

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My Daddy, Mama & Me. 1974.