Celebrate Life

chris

“Perhaps the best part of soaring is the always changing, always beautiful skyscape. Though I live in an unremarkable region of coastal plains and piedmont, the sky offers daily wonders.

Keen observers of the air, glider pilots often see things others miss. The annual migration of raptors south. The gossamers of migrating spiders glinting on our wings. A monarch butterfly 4,000 feet above the ground, fluttering its way to Central America. A tumultuous roll cloud, marking the turbulence beneath the glassy smooth but powerful lift of mountain wave, and the lens shaped clouds stacked above it. The grey tendrils that sometimes form below a cumulus cloud, marking especially strong eddies of lift. The concave bottoms of cumulus clouds that mark the very strongest of thermals. The extraordinary sensation of flying into a column of smoke rising from a field fire—opaque from the outside, but transparent once inside.

-Christopher C. O’Callaghan

The above was written by my brother for an article in a soaring magazine a few years ago.  What it shows me is his ability to see more than what is right in front of you.  His fascination with the world beyond his and his hunger to know more than the fact that the butterflies are up there, he wanted to know why and where they were going.

The message to me is that he really lived.  He didn’t just dream, he explored.  If he wanted to do something, he did it.

Three years ago today, he died doing one of the many things he had explored for the last 30 years.  He died in a collision during a soaring competition.

We were all devastated.  We still miss him desperately.  But…we also know that life is unpredictable and if there is anything positive we can extract from this tragedy, it’s that we know he lived.  And, we know he died doing something that he loved.

Equal Love

I am going to a wedding on Friday.  A wedding that is many years overdue.   DOMA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_of_Marriage_Act) stopped them from being able to live a normal and secure life in the USA.  Every couple of years there was worry about getting work Visas and where they would have to live just so they could stay together. 

Aside from DOMA, acceptance of same sex marriage in America is still a major issue.  Laws that are based in religious and moral beliefs should not stop any human being from living their lives in happiness.

My primary motivation for my passion about marriage equality starts with my father.  Yes, my father was gay.  I found out when I was about 14.  When I was 13, right after my parents separated, my brother asked my mother if Dad was gay.  I was disgusted and replied that he couldn’t be gay because he had 3 children!  How a 10 year old was able to see so clearly and I at 13 had no clue, is beyond me but my brother saw something that I didn’t.  Initially, my mother did not tell us the truth.  I can imagine that this would be very hard for any parent to talk to children about.  Then,  while I was a freshman at boarding school,  I got a call from my mother.  My brother had brought it up again and she told him the truth.  And, now I knew the truth too.

Apparently, my father was denied a government job in the 1960’s because of a relationship he had with a man while in the Army.  He told my mother and they chose to stay together.  They had 3 children by then and they had love, maybe a different love but I don’t remember my mother and father not being able to stand each other.  They liked each other and, of course, they had 3 beeeeeeeautiful children between them!   Eventually, normal life had to take over and when I was 13, they decided to separate and eventually divorced. 

My father drank.  He was not a mean drunk.  He got a little sloppy sometimes but generally, he was a quiet drunk.  In retrospect, it just seems like he was self medicating.  My mother has said that she didn’t think he was a drunk by disease but more by misery.  He obviously did not feel he could live his life as he really was.  What a sad thought.

My father never talked to us about it.  And, regretfully, I never told him that I knew and that it was okay.  He died when I was 20.  He stopped drinking about 2 years before his death but by then he was already very ill. 

It was confusing for me and for years I wondered if I may be a lesbian.  At a time where your sexuality is really awakening, it’s hard to know something like that.  And, what if?  In 1977, it was a scary thought to try to deal with something that taboo in America.   It took awhile for me to get that it was okay.  I always knew that my family would accept it and after meeting and befriending gays and lesbians during college and beyond, it was all good.

I never had to deal with the question.  I am not a lesbian but I have friends and family who are gay.  Some are open about it but others are still very secretive.  I think that’s very sad.  

So, my passion about marriage equality comes from the hope that no one ever has to live like my father did again.  If only he had been able to accept his homosexuality and live a happy, free life.  Sure, I may not be here to do this but that itself could be a great thing…that I didn’t have to be here to help the fight for 2 human beings to love freely…

Oh, and I guess big thanks should go to the US Supreme Court…I have a hard time calming my not so pleasant attitude about the US Government but sometimes they get it right! 🙂

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