Flash forward a several years to the present and that “thought provoking” comment about wanting to be a lesbian, and it’s obvious to anyone my mom has, as I said, come a long way.
Recently she wrote me an e-mail about how discontented she was becoming with her current life. She and my Dad retired and moved to Arizona, leaving beautiful, but rather soggy, Oregon behind. The problem, at least where my mom is concerned, is that when they moved to their retirement community they were joined by old friends they’d known for years and, having made a change, my mom decided to bring out sides of herself she'd never risked indulging before.
“Why do things have to be like they were in Oregon?" my mom wrote me once. "I have a new life, all these new lady friends and we love to go to lunch together, golf, see a movie and laugh, and no one criticizes me or makes me feel bad the way they sometimes did before, in our old community.” She went on to say that she feels she’s “done her duty.” She’s been the good wife, the good mother, the good friend. She’s put her needs aside for others, sacrificed her ambitions for those of the people around her, and did it willingly and without regret. Enough is enough!
I’ve found that once you start respecting who you are inside, it’s difficult to turn back.
“You know what it sounds like to me?” I wrote to mom. “It sounds like you’ve decided your need to be true to yourself is more important than getting approval from others. It’s like what I had to go through. You’re doing your own kind of ‘coming out.’ I think everyone needs to ‘come out’ in this way at some point.”
I got a long e-mail from my mom after that. She wrote me in great detail how she had used my “coming out” comparison on her circle of friends and in her writing class, and how they have encouraged her to continue in the direction she is going.