Sunday, June 1, 2014

Seeing Dad

On Tuesday, May 27, 2014, I drove down to my parent's house in Delaware.  This would be my dad's first time meeting me as Sophie.  He has known about it for a while, but hasn't seen me.  My mum met her daughter back in February.

With me on this trip was Linda Lewis.  She'd never seen the Atlantic Ocean, so I thought it would be fun to take her to Rehoboth Beach and push her in, I mean show her the surf.

First thing in the morning, I went to my therapy appointment and we discussed ideas and possibilities for the day.  I didn't tell her about the trip at the previous appointment as I hadn't planned it at that point.  She wished me well.

Yes, I was really nervous about this.

And so at 10:30 that morning Linda and I headed south towards lower Delaware.  My parents live in a small town on the Indian River Bay, and the journey took about two and a half hours.

Coast of Lower Delaware (Google maps)

We arrived when expected, at 1 PM.  By this point, I was very scared.  My dad, in case you haven't followed this blog, wasn't the nicest of people when I was growing up.  That's an understatement.  He was quite the disciplinarian to say the least.  Growing up, I was absolutely terrified of him.  Add to the fact that he was trying to "make a man outta me" which was the last thing I wanted...

How would he react to seeing me with breasts?  As his daughter?  I really had no clue.  He'd been accepting when I came out, but words are one thing and seeing your son dressed as a woman is an entire different kind of flying altogether.

Linda wanted to get inside, so up the stairs, open the door (which sticks) and there both my parents were.  Mum was right inside the door, and hugged me.  Dad was off to the side in the kitchen.  He stood when we entered.

View from back porch

Now comes the quandary.  As this is something to do with family, it should be private.  But this blog has been all about my life and I know that inquiring minds want to know.

So I'll say what happened, but leave out some bits.  Fair enough?

In any case, Mum hugged me.  Then dad came over... and hugged me.  That was only the second time ever in my life.  He smiled... another rarity.  I introduced Linda.  I don't know how she felt about meeting my parents but I was sure glad she was there.  She's a wonderful conversationalist and filled in the "gaps" of the conversation as if we rehearsed it.

We talked a little, and mum made us tuna sandwiches... but she never puts onions in them, and dad does.  These had onions.  Dad had made them.  Linda and I both had two, and then headed for the beach.  We would return for dinner.

Through the traffic to Rehoboth Beach.  We found parking, bought Linda some sandals, and headed for the beach.  Linda had previously seen the Pacific, but never the Atlantic.  I introduced them.  No I didn't push her in.

Linda meets the Atlantic

I also waded into the water.  It was cold and perfect for a 92 degree day.


We bopped around the beach for a little, then headed back to the boardwalk and to the Greene Turtle.  I wanted to go there as I had unfinished business there.  You see, the last time I was at Rehoboth as Sophie was Beauty at the Beach in 2011.  I planned on going to the Greene Turtle as me, but was too scared.  So this time I went straight up the steps and into the bar.  No hesitation, no issues.  Linda and I both had a cold beverage, as we were both sweating like crazy from marching across the sand in the heat.

See?  We were there!  Really!

After we cooled down, we walked on the boardwalk for a bit.  I asked Linda to take a couple of pictures that would be in the exact spot of my favorite pics from BatB those years ago.  And she did.

Not exact, but close enough

We were in front of the Atlantic Hotel, where BatB is held,  for those pictures, and if I had the money I would've treated to a shot at the bar there to my late friend JoAnn Roberts.

We then went south to another place:  Bethany Beach.  This is where for many years I came with Wife and her family.  It's a quiet beach town.  I'd never been there as a woman.  This was the first time.

Bethany was a ghost town.  They heard we were coming?

It was windy by then.  Storms were coming.

As I walked around, a thought occurred to me that should have beforehand.  My days of coming to Bethany for vacation were over.  I'd never do a beach vacation like those again.  For one, I'd never be invited again, as her family is no longer speaking to the "freak."  And if they did invite, I'd politely decline.  Maybe I'd go there with Wife and daughter someday, but I doubt even that.

From Bethany, I drove back to my parents' house for dinner.  As it simmered, my mum showed Linda and I a bunch of earrings she didn't want and told us to take what we wanted.  Some were quite old.

We then walked out on the pier for pictures.  The wind was quite strong now as the storm approached.


Even windblown, she's still hot

Dinner was quite good.  Linda told stories from her California and airport days, where she serviced planes.  My dad is mechanically inclined, so he took to her immediately.  Directly after dinner, my mum hurried us out, as the dark clouds were coming in at a high speed.

We were on the road maybe half an hour when the storm hit, and it was nasty.  It stayed with us most of the trip and slowed us considerably.  As I drove, Linda and I discussed the day and what it meant.

So what DID it mean?

I didn't know what to expect.  But Dad was polite and even hugged me goodbye.  He managed to get my name right every time, but had some pronoun trouble, which is to be expected.  In the end, it was a very affirming experience.  I've come to the conclusion that what Was in my family relationship is Past.  We are on new ground entirely.  Where there was once animosity and distance, there is now a new closeness.

I do NOT take this for granted.  At all.

In many ways, I am very lucky with my transition so far.  I lost my home and will probably lose my marriage, true.  I've lost friends.  But I regained my family, and have so many wonderful people in my life supporting me.  People I owe so much.

My parents and I still have a long way to go.  This is still just the beginning, and things could still sour.  but I am now hopeful.  The hardest parts- disclosure and meeting them- are behind me.

I still have rough times ahead, but this helps me gain strength for this Journey.

I wish you the same strength in your Journeys.

Our Day:  1) parent's house  2) Rehoboth  3) Bethany

1 comment:

  1. I've been following your blog for a while and apologize for not posting sooner... This meeting with your folks seems to be a big positive turn of events... I pray that it will blossom for you and help you regain them 100%!