The Return

My week off has been full- Seattle, Spokane, Sand Point, best friends, family (marriage in NY!) Ken’s marathon, Seattle Pride, friends, more friends, walking, cats, dogs, Canadians, Sisters, sun, reunions, lots of good food and an amazing amount of time in the car.

I have lots to share, and I’ll get to it. Promise.

I just need some time to do the laundry- I’m out of underwear.

You Were Born

Yup. It’s my birthday.

I’m 46 today and it’s been a year of dramatic change, to be sure. Birthdays are the greatest. I’ve always loved them, even when they weren’t my own. I would always love a cake with candles on it more than Christmas. My Gramma used to say, “Nobody enjoys a birthday more than Greg”.

It’s true.

Upon reflection, I think I love birthdays because they’re a celebration for one simple reason- you were born. Birthdays simply commemorate your arrival on this planet. They don’t celebrate the things you did, the people you know, the money you make, the influence you have. They just celebrate your being. I think we need that reminder. At least once a year. To celebrate the grace of just existing- and the fact that everyone else here is doing the exact same thing.

So, today, I’ll give in to that grace again. And for all the beauty in my life- family, friends, dogs, doctors, my breath and my heartbeat, I am truly grateful. Thank you.

Here’s a little poem I wrote once:

Born

Today, in a year past,
You were born.
Didn’t do anything to deserve it-
Or did you?
And parents who look upon a newborn
Face etched with the promises and
Dreams of fettered hearts
Sigh, knowing they will let go
Sooner than most of them want to
And later than any child would like.

You were born.
Celebrate.
Call your mother-
She did all the hard work.
Then breathe.
Listen to your heart beat.
Eat the cake.
Smile at your life
And go to bed.

The day, much like any other-
except that you noticed it.

~D Gregory Smith

Mother’s Day, 2011

After considering this for a while, I have decided that I am going to partake of some shameless self-indulgent sentimentality.

I miss my Mom.

We all went to Lydia’s in Butte last night for dinner in her honor- it was one of her favorite places. Dad, my brother and sister, their spouses and their parents, me and Ken and his mom. We celebrated all the mothers in our families- including the absent ones. And I noticed something last night that I haven’t been able to shake.

I love being around this family.

I loved watching my Dad enjoy his children. I loved watching Ken gently pull the chair out for his mom before she sat. I loved how we all told stories and laughed and listened and ate delicious food- sharing tastes across the table. I loved the subtle teasing, the secret shared smiles, the knowing nods and the conversation that was all over the table. I loved how we drank wine and water and Manhattans and Diet Coke and shamelessly ordered dessert. I loved how we all treated each other like, well, like we loved each other.

Which we do.

And I wanted my Mom there- because she was always such an uncompromisingly real presence at all of our family gatherings. You never had to wonder what she thought, or who she was talking to- or about. She loved nothing more than to sit next to my Dad and tell stories and laugh, remind us of details- or have us remind her, and generally just be with her kids and have a good time. I’m not sure how, but she taught us how to enjoy each other.

I remember watching them watch us last Christmas. They were sitting together on a couch, and we (me, brother, sister and all our respective spouses) were all talking to each other, telling stories and teasing each other a little, laughing and just having a great time. I happened to look up at my parents and I saw my Mom look at my Dad, smile, and put her head on his shoulder. That moment is one of the most precious memories I have. In my mind, I hear that smile and that gesture say “We done good, Dave.”

They sure did.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. We miss you lots.

We’re Homo wners!

NOT our furniture

With all of the emotional upheaval of the last 10 days, I neglected to mention that Ken and I signed the papers on a beautiful house on the West Side of Bozeman. We’ll be moving in slowly- over the next 3 weeks, but it’s the first house I’ve ever (half) owned and we’re exhausted and excited and nervous.

I had a little moment with my Dad yesterday as we were moving in the dining room table- my Mom never got to see the house- and I missed being able to share that moment with them both.

But I’m sure we’ll feel her around….

My Mother’s Son

First, I want to thank everyone for the marvelous messages of support during the last week. Losing my mom was/is pretty rough. If you knew her at all, you knew she was a survivor, a character who didn’t like to be bored, wouldn’t take any shit- but dished it out beautifully- and loved to eat, to laugh and tell stories with the best of them. She and my Dad loved it when we were all home, or all together somewhere. We all like being around each other- and that says a lot.  You probably know that the apples didn’t fall far from the tree- her children are all like that in one way or another….

Dad and Mom

I loved my mother in ways that are complicated and extremely simple at the same time.

She was my best friend- and the biggest gadfly I endured. She cheered me on when I needed it, cheered me up when I felt like shit and told me exactly what she thought if she felt I was making a mistake- well, she told me what she thought no matter what I did, said or thought myself. And as she got older, she did it so much more gracefully. She didn’t intrude as much as she simply reminded- and after 45 years of knowing her style, I really came to depend on her perspective in ways I wouldn’t have thought possible 20 years ago.

She was a gentle woman with babies and old people. She simply loved them, and they loved her. I’m not sure why. But there were a few times I was at my wits’ end with my mother and then I saw her interact with Sars or a baby- and it reminded me that deep inside, she had an immense capacity for love that her manner sometimes became a smokescreen to protect. She endured pain in a way that I was amazed by. That smokescreen also helped shield us from the hurt and the painful physical issues she navigated daily.

I never doubted her love for me. I don’t think any of us did-even when it was not so easy. We mostly saw through the smokescreen- as did all those close to her. She loved fiercely- she was often deeply offended at injustice in the world- and she did what she could to help out. If you were a friend, or family, or a stranger in need, she always did what she could- it was her at her best.

I like to think I got some of that.

As I bless her presence in my life- now changed a bit- I am so grateful for the many things I have been given by my family. My brother, sister, father and mother have all left indelible marks on my heart and in my life- good ones, fantastic ones. And I will always be grateful. As I grow older, those marks become lines that intertwine with my own loves and ways of seeing the world- being there for others and letting them be there for me. That’s just the way it works. For you, too, I imagine.

But for me, it mostly started with Mom. The love I felt as a child didn’t diminish over time- it just changed a bit. She always did the best she could in my best interest. And it was important to her that I knew she was interested in my life. And accepting- even of the things she didn’t quite understand. She loved Ken like she loved the people my siblings married- they were family and that was that. She trusted me because she raised me to be a conscientious person- someone who acted out of compassion, not spite. We fought sometimes, because she taught me not to give up, ever- even with her, especially if I felt I needed to make my case. She gave me more gifts that I’m sure I’ll notice as life goes on. Thet’s what I’m looking forward to.

This firstborn son had a unique relationship with his mother. It’s like that with almost every mother and child, but no two are ever alike. That woman, my mother, will be forever intertwined in every relationship I have- just as she always has been.

I’ll just notice it more now.

Osage County At The Myrna

Tonight, Ken and I are off to attend the closing night of  August: Osage County at The Myrna Loy Center in Helena. I’m really looking forward to seeing some theater and also getting to see my friend John Rausch in action.

When I lived in Helena, The Myrna was an important oasis for me- it served off-brand movies, lectures, plays and entertainment that were an important way to connect with the larger world- and I’m delighted to be going back.

For those of you who don’t know, Hollywood legend Myrna Loy was from Radersburg, just outside Helena, and along with Gary Cooper, always claimed Montana as home. In addition to her acting career, she was an early champion of human rights and crusader against McCarthyism. I find it delightful that this woman is still inspiring excellent local entertainment and global awareness through the building and organization that bears her name. Support them!

Squared Away

Friends,
Insurance. Check.
New doctor. Check.
Medications. Check.
Happy. Double check.

It’s all going great, and it looks like things will be done well and (almost) as easily as of old. ADAP came through, and EIP came through which give me insurance and covers my doctor and meds. I had labs drawn today, but unless something changes, I’ll be getting labs drawn once every 6 months and have complete and total access to medical care.
And I’m healthy- all things considered. Thanks for the thoughts, prayers, energy, love, whatever you want to call it. I’m deeply appreciative.

Let me know when I can return the favor.

Seattle Busy

Hey all!
Personal update: I’ll be working on getting my medical insurance/HIV meds/new doctor this week and visiting family and friends. Short word- less posts.

Keep the faith, and send me anything worth sharing!
~G

Hey!

…against HB 516? Hearing starts Monday at 3pm in Room 405 of the Montana State Capitol Building.

I suggest printing two copies of your statement and bring it with you in case the monkey business of last time is repeated.

Here’s mine:

Regarding HB 516, I speak in opposition for several reasons.

  • Every community should have the right to decide its own ordinances of inclusion. Ordinances of exclusion, which is what this is, are historically used by dictatorships, theocratic states and societies of intolerance- which I fervently hope is not your intention.
  • Creating a law that disallows protection is counterintuitive to the purpose of government as set forth in both the Federal and State Constitutions, in which are stated explicitly the government’s purpose and responsibility to protect its citizenry from discrimination, violence and other harms.
  • This is an attempt to write prejudice and bigotry into the law. It is an attempt to tie local ordinances to State law in a way which keeps government from evolving as our understanding does- both scientific and social, creating a top-down model, instead of a cooperative, inter-dynamic process. State laws and statutes are informed by the experience of the people- don’t disregard the deliberate and intentional process engaged in by sizable numbers of Montanans- processes which inform the future of our government.
  • I am a gay man, a native Montanan. My partner is a native Montanan. All we want is to live our lives happily and free from fear in the state we both grew up in. This bill tells me we shouldn’t have the right to be happy here.

  • I am also a therapist, I work primarily with LGBT persons. The stories of fear and prejudice that I hear almost daily are heart-breaking. The stories of bullying and violence are also all too common and very real right here in the State of Montana. This bill simply ignores the needs of a suffering segment of the population who deserve to feel safe.
  • This bill is discrimination. It is rejection of the right of communities to protect their citizens as they believe necessary. It removes the power to govern from local citizens, enshrining bigotry, ignorance and personal belief in defiance of science, human experience and the freedom of local governance.

Respectfully submitted,
D Gregory Smith, MA, stl

Life

So, we’re buying a house. I’ve never owned a house before. I haven’t slept much.
I’m also at the Montana Community Planning Group for HIV Prevention (today through Saturday) in Helena.
And I’m trying to edit an interview for Same Sex Sunday.
So, my time is pretty much spoken for, and posts will be a little less frequent this week. But I’m still watching things, so you might see some late-night posts popping up from time to time….

Lots going on, but thanks for reading!
If you have a tip, send it to me through the comments….