Tag Archives: parent

Rainbows

You might not know this about me, but I’m a rainbow mom. You know, someone whose kids have alphabet soup letters attached to them, specifically LGBTQ?

It’s partly why I made these wings on the front of my gallery. I mean, I started them with the idea that I was going to participate in a fundraiser/publicity event. The local hospital started an endowment to help local cancer patients. To help raise awareness, Ludington decided to go for a Guiness World Record for the most sand angels. A lot of businesses made angel wings for people (or their pets) to pose in front of and to encourage people to donate to the fund. That’s what I was doing, too, when I created these wings.

I put them on my picture window in front of the gallery with the intent of filling them in with blue and aqua and green, like a macaw’s wings. But when I got to the coloring stage, I reached for the little bottle of red instead, and before I knew it I had made rainbow wings.

I have rainbow-ized before. Our first house in Ludington had wrought iron pillars on the front porch and one day I decided to paint them in rainbow colors. At that time I was already a rainbow mom, but I didn’t know it yet. When eventually my daughter told me she liked girls, I hoped like hell it was a phase she was going through. I remember that I advised her to wait and see if things changed. I really wanted it to be something temporary, because I didn’t know what I was going to do if it wasn’t.

I not only wasn’t ready to accept her as gay, I didn’t know how to.

Growing up, I experienced only negative attitudes about homosexuality. A couple of my older brothers used to brag about “beating up queers” in Saugatuck and my parents didn’t censure them for it. I had a vague idea that this was not right, but I never did anything about it. It didn’t touch me, personally. I’m sure there were gay kids around me in high school, but I didn’t know anyone who was gay because I never asked. I pushed it off to one side and tried not to think about it.

So I had no training on how to be a parent to gay kids. What was I supposed to do? When my children came out to me, my first thought was, “What will my family think?” Because that really worried me. I was afraid my family would disapprove and that they would blame me for the way my kids turned out.

Fortunately, I married a man whose family had always been accepting of LGBTQ people. Steve was so matter of fact about it all, that it helped me be that way, too. And I did a lot of reading. I talked to people. I wrote about it.

Bottom line is, I love my kids, all of them, no matter their gender or sexuality. They’re my kids. They’re the people I’m the most passionate about, the ones I’d defend with my life. I want them to be happy, more than I want my parents’ or siblings’ approvals.

I’m still figuring it out, of course. And these wings are part of my process. They’re for all the rainbow children and rainbow parents here in Ludington and everywhere else, too. Of course, the wings are part of the fundraiser, but mostly they’re for my tribe, my rainbow people. Fly, you guys! And be free!

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pastel study of a man and his mother

Giving comfort

pastel study of a man and his mother

Steve and Diana, 5×7″ pastel study by Marie Marfia

This study is done from a photo that I took last Christmas of Steve and his mom, Diana, on the couch at my daughter’s place. She was just resting on his chest while watching some movie on TV. I wonder if she was pretending he was someone else.

Diana has dementia. She’s living in an assisted living facility. She has her own apartment, a two bedroom with a kitchenette, although she doesn’t cook anymore. She walks down to the dining room for her meals. When she’s walking back to her apartment she always says she lives in outer Mongolia because it’s such a long way away.

Diana doesn’t always remember who we are when we come to visit, so we always tell her as we’re coming through her door. “I’m your favorite daughter-in-law, Marie.” “I’m your oldest son, Steve.” That way, she doesn’t have to scramble to come up with names right off the bat. She’s pretty good at covering up her memory lapses right now, but that skill is slipping away, too, like everything else.

This is a hard thing to watch. She’s always prided herself on her intelligence. She got all As in school growing up and got a Masters of Library Science. She still speaks French sometimes and likes to play Duolingo on my iPad.

The place where she lives just called this week to tell Steve that she needs more care now, help with dressing herself, taking showers, doing laundry. It’s fine. Steve’s Dad made good investments and saved all his life before he died. She’s got plenty to cover the extra costs. It’s just that it’s another step down the road that you hate to have to take. We all gotta die. I get that. I wish it didn’t have to be like this, that’s all.

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