When I was 38 I had to come out to my Dad. He was 72. I had been married to a man for 18 years, I had four of his six grandchildren. I can't imagine the bombshell that was for him.
My Dad was born in New England and he spent his entire childhood there, son of an accountant and the local Masonic lodge leader. After high school, he joined the Coast Guard. After that he was an ironworker, building almost every bridge on the seacoast.
There's an infamous story, happened way before I was born. He and his crew were working in the 70s on a skyscraper in Hartford, CT. On their lunch break, they unwittingly wandered into a gay bar. You can imagine how that went down. The cops were eventually called to break up the fight and Dad was thrown in jail. My mom left him there for the night. (I LOVE THIS STORY, my dad was in JAIL, you guys.)
In an effort to save their marriage which was on the rocks from the beginning, my parents left their community and moved to Arizona. It's amazing the extent we will go to "preserve" our families. They tried to start a new life, my Dad even quit drinking and started attending AA. Once he was sober, it was clear the marriage was hurting everyone involved.
Then my Dad started his own Life 2.0. He started to open his mind and heart up to new experiences and new cultures. He started absorbing lots of information, he never got a college degree but he is a true renaissance man, knowing a lot about a lot. Dad and his wife Jane traveled the world, and my Dad collected stories, learning from everything.
He taught me to never stay stagnant. To always grow, always be willing to change your mind. You never know it all, someone else will always have a perspective that you need.
When I told him, tearfully and anxiously, that I was in love with a woman, the first thing he saw was my mental health and the state it was in. Then he saw my heart which was both broken and on fire at once. Then maybe later, he processed the news of my sexuality with Jane.
He had met Kristen, knew her as my "friend". He quickly let me know that he thought she was great and he didn't care who I loved, he just wanted me safe and happy. He knew the darkness of depression and so he was able to connect so authentically. Mental wellness is the priority above all.
He taught me a lot that day, as usual. He taught me the priorities for loving your kid, even when she's middle-aged. He taught me that if your life ends as the same person who was born, you've wasted your life.
My Dad's Life 2.0 blazed a path for me that I had no idea I would need.
He's beginning his last chapter. Yet again, he's blazing a trail for me. How to let your daughter take care of you, when you've spent your life trying to be as independent as humanly possible. It's not easy for him. But life shouldn't be easy. Easy is for wusses, he would say.