I’ve already written about gratitude being a great attitude. Well, chief among the blessings for which I am immensely grateful is the incongruous fact that this old gay man is a progenitor. I’m now something of a patriarch—please, eldest member—of a direct family line.
How that odd situation came about is another story which I’m putting into a memoir, but I now have two lovely daughters, and despite an amicable divorce now 45 years ago, the family is still hanging together, my former wife included.
Maybe I’d better say me included, because the extended family is all hers, and all these years I’ve simply been part of it as first husband and father of two of her children. Her son by second (and also temporary) husband I’ve always considered to be my stepson, albeit ex post facto. To my girls I’m Daddy, and to the in- and out-laws, nieces, nephews, etc. (Uncle) Richie.
Though we’ve mostly lived in separate cities, I frequently visited the girls where they grew up in Gainesville FL and very much enjoyed watching them do it. Over the years the whole family sometimes visited me as well, and the teenaged girls and I once did a two-week camping trip across southern Ohio in search of Indian mounds that eventually led to a book.
In yet another layer of blessing, my first and only wife and I are now for all intents and purposes the proud grandparents of four grandsons and two granddaughters. My, how we do propagate. Not to mention a new generation of cousins. Generation—we’re now the third generation! If the girls hadn’t waited so long to procreate, we could easily be the fourth right now. Gadzooks!
I regret not having photos of the granddaughters or the Atlanta grandsons, but here’s a more or less recent shot of my Santa Fe grandson Jammes, now 12.
My younger daughter moved out here to Santa Fe around 1990, arriving with her boyfriend, whom I liked from the start. Understandably they’ve been central in my life ever since. Though they didn’t marry till several years later, he always found it amusing to have a gay father-in-law. I always tried to be present and available for them without getting in the way.
Also from the start (since we have the same name), my son-in-law started calling me Pappou [pop-poo] having no idea that it was like the Greek for ‘grandfather’ (παππούς). It surprises ethnic Greeks to hear the grandkids call me that. Thus my lurid past in the Gin Mill manifests itself anew in this distant present. Σ ‘αγαπώ, αγάπη μου!
My Santa Fe family expanded twelve years ago with the arrival of our youngest grandson, only a few weeks younger than the twins in Atlanta. After he was born, I became basically a daily visitor and have since shared in the vicissitudes of his babyhood, toddler-hood, kid-hood, and now pre-adolescent-hood. It’s been, as we used to say back in the sixties, a trip. It’s regrettable that living so far away, I’ve not been able to share like this in the lives of my other grandsons. On the other hand, maybe that has saved what’s left of my sanity.