My father’s mother was in her nineties at the time she came to Washington State from Arkansas with two of my father’s sisters. I flew up for a few days and we all met at Darlene’s in Yakima. I had not really known my father’s family much at all in my life. I don’t remember Darlene, Roger or I ever receiving visits, phone calls, birthday cards or Christmas cards. Maybe it was because my mom had divorced our dad.
I remember talking to my mom about this when I was about 13, living in Escondido. I wondered why Darlene, Roger and I didn’t have more of a relationship with my father’s family and even wondered if it was our fault. At the time, I think I felt guilty for not reaching out to them more. She reminded me that we were the children and it was really up to these adults to take the initiative to make a relationship with us. I AM glad that my dad’s family did have relationships with Donna, David and Hebert. I think Donna took the initiative to stay in touch with our grandparents and my dad’s family and made several trips to Arkansas through her life.
This was a great “reunion” in 1995 and much fun, although I was banned from saying anything to my fundamentalist Baptist grandmother about being gay or having a black partner, lol. I understood, as she was in her 90’s. My grandmother and aunts were very sweet and I loved visiting with them. Of course, my aunts and everybody else knew that I was gay and had a relationship with an African-American. Nobody else had any problem with that as far as I knew at the time.
As an adult, my uncle Pete and his wife, Hazel, visited me in San Francisco and years later, after Hazel had passed away, Pete and his son, Edward, joined Donna and her family and David and his family and Milton and I on a Mexican Riviera cruise. It was so delightful to spend the week with Pete. He reminded me so much of my dad and I could see where all of us get much of our humor. I am only sorry that I didn’t know my dad’s family better through the years. Other than Pete, I don’t even know the names of many of my dad’s siblings. I couldn’t even tell you how many siblings he had. I have very few photos and have only had contact with Pete and Edward through the years.