Sunday, November 14, 2010

So Much More!

As you may, or may not have noticed, I have decided to make my page a little different than most like it. I do not want it to be ONLY about being Trans-gender. Our lives are about so much more than that. One aspect of someones life should not define them 100%.
Anyway, I have decided to try and say a bit more about my life! Now when you are trying to do this with a blog that uses photos to illustrate, you have some tough choices to make. I want to show my family, my wife, my children - these are the things I am most proud of and would very much like to share. The bad news is that if the wrong person stumbles on to the page, and figures out who we are, my children could be in a tough spot. For this reason, I have decided to only use old photos of my family, photos that few people are likely to recognize them from. I sort of figure that if you have gone through the effort to find my page, and know the folks in these photos, then I don't mind your knowing who we are - let's hope I am not proven wrong. So! Enough about the why of it, lets get on to the story!
My Great Grandmother Welch
I know nothing of her history, only that she was 100% Irish! :-)
I spent a lot of time with her when I was very young. I recall that even though she was in her 80's, she and I used to walk the mile or so to the grocery store about once a week. She lived into her mid 90's - can you imagine all of the things she saw in her lifetime? Electricity, phones, automobiles, in door plumbing - all became common place in her lifetime. She started off with horse drawn carts and saw men walk on the moon - how cool is that?! I wish I had been older before she died - think of all the neat things she could have talked about.
Grandma Welch was a good and kind woman and I miss her.
Grandma Welch's Children
From left to right is my Grandmother Marie, Aunt Catherine, and Uncle Bill. My Grandmother I will speak a little more about below. My Aunt Catherine I didn't know real well - she didn't excite me a lot. What I do know of her? 1- She was a retired school teacher. 2- If you asked her how she was doing, she would tell you everything that was wrong with her in detail! :-)
Now my Uncle Bill - he was cool, but I'm told he didn't start that way. They were brought up on a farm in Grand Rapids Michigan and life was NOT exactly easy. Apparently my Uncle and his father were both headstrong and stubborn - perhaps a bad combination when talking about a father and son. According to my grandmother, my uncle was beaten by his father on a regular basis. Eventually he left home, I'm sure in no small part to get away from this, and he spent many years traveling the country working odd jobs. This is what some people may have referred to as a "Hobo", but I must make sure you understand this does not mean "bum". My uncle worked hard everywhere he went and earned every dollar he got. The bad news? He became a raging alcoholic and a "not nice" person. This person I never met and have only heard of from other people. By the time I came along, he had been in AA for decades and was happily married to woman that most of us didn't care for, but he obviously loved. I guess as a result of his early years traveling, my uncle knew everything about everything. He would never brag about this, or throw it in your face, but it didn't matter what you were doing - if you asked for his help he knew how to do it and would jump in and give you a hand. He continued to travel a lot when he retired and so we saw him fairly often even though he didn't live close. Every time he came to visit he brought all of us children a silver dollar.
Obviously I liked him - I named my son after him!
My Grandmother Huddle
As mentioned above, my Grandmother was raised on a farm in Grand Rapids Michigan and she was one tough woman! With my father absent the vast majority of the time, my Grandmother was the authoritarian in our lives. I recall a number of those walking / running spankings - "I told you" . . . whap . . ."not to" . . whap . . . "do that" . . .whap . . . "again!" whap!
I remember being stunned when I found the above picture of my Grandma and found out it was her. I found this pic and was mesmerized by the beautiful eyed girl in it and so I took it to my mother and asked who it was. When she told me it was my Grandmother I was rocked to my core! All I had ever known was an old and angry woman. I never looked at her, or any other older person, the same way again. What a thought - inside of every old person is a young person that used to run, skip, jump, and play in the grass.
Well, somewhere along the line, Grandma moved to southern California (LA) , got married, and had children. (I don't know if they were married before or after she moved to California)
I never met my grandfather and know nothing of him other than that he was full blooded German and my mother adored him. My grandparents owned a restaurant/bar called Luckys Little Italy and all of the accounts I've heard describe it as a happy place. Unfortunately, he died leaving my grandmother a widow. It was only now that she discovered that they were DEEP into debt and she ultimately gave up or lost the restaurant. She spent the rest of her working years as a waitress at the Green Tree Inn in Victorville where I believe she was well thought of.
This is one of very few pictures or memories I have of my Grandmother with a smile on her face.
My Mother
My mother had a number of cards stacked against her, the most significant being that she was born with a spine disorder that had her in and out of hospitals, in leg braces, wheel chairs, and on crutches most of her childhood. One of the pivotal moments in her life she described was when a Dr told her that she would never walk with out crutches for the rest of her life. She threw them in his trash can, walked out, and kept walking for the next 40 years or more.
While I don't know the exact number, my Mother had somewhere around 20 major operations for the spine disorder, and later to replace her hip that was destroyed by arthritis. These are not your out patient operations, these are in the hospital for a week or more followed by a month recovering operations. My mother has one of the kindest and gentlest souls I know - I wonder if it takes so much pain to make a soul like that?
I'm sure that most children think their mothers are pretty, but I was always sure MY mother was the prettiest in the world.
For those of you that are familiar with LA, you may be interested to know my mother was brought up there in her young years. She tells a story (sounds like a fable to me) about LA as being a beautiful and friendly place. A place where you knew each other, a place with beautiful streets you were safe to walk down and play in. I used to love the song "Maria" from West Side Story and I remember my mother with tears in her eyes asking me to stop playing it. It seems it made her think too much about how LA slide down hill and became gang infested.
My mother was married once before she married my father and she had two children from that marriage. These two are my older brother and sister that I grew up with. While my Father also had other children, I do not consider them my brothers because we didn't grow up together. When my mother and father split up, my fathers other sons went with him, and I went with her.
My mother does know about me and is cool with hit. Her first question was "Why didn't you ever tell me?!"
My Father.
I know VERY little of my fathers history. I know he spent many years in the Air Force, which is probably what brought him to Southern California (Edwards AFB).
I know he was married once before he met my mother and had two sons from that marriage.
I know he turned to alcohol when he couldn't bear the waiting to see if my mother was going to survive the next operation. (This is what he told me many years later)
I know that he received the only compliment I ever heard my Grandmother give to a man "He was a damn hard worker and wasn't lazy". This was high praise indeed from my grandmother.
He was French and American Indian (Seminole). If your keeping track, this makes me Irish, German, French, and American Indian - a mutt! lol
He used to drive a cement truck but most of the years I knew of, he was a bartender. Can you imagine a worse career for an alcoholic? Eventually the alcohol caught up to him and his liver quite. He begged me to bring my son to meet him before he died and I almost refused, but ultimately did so. My son does not remember him and I'm sure that is just as well. The first thing he did when I walked in was to offer me a beer! I looked at him stunned that a man dying from alcohol abuse would still be drinking! He laughed and said it was a bit late to worry about it. Still the thought made me sick so I passed. The last I saw of my Father was him in the rear view mirror with tears streaming down his face.
I'm very glad I DID go to see him - at least this is one bit of guilt I wont have to carry.
My Sister.
This picture is how I still see my sister in my mind when I think of her. My sister was a very beautiful (still is), independent, and strong willed girl. She is four years older than I am and is from my mothers previous marriage. She was one of the "tough" and "cool" kids in school that no one messed with - you just didn't mess with her and every one knew it. I remember when three or four boys ambushed my brother and knocked him senseless. When he came in the house and told the story, my sister was gone like a flash. I later found out she had whipped every one of them.
When our house was robbed, and our bicycles stolen, it was my sister who tracked them down, and when she did, the bikes were promptly returned.
When one of my step fathers (there were a few and I chose not to include them in this) found cigarette butts behind the shrubs where my brother and I had been smoking, my sister took the blame and the punishment and did not tell on us. Unfortunately, I was too young to understand or accept the concept of taking responsibility for my actions, or I was just plain a coward, and to this day I feel ashamed that my 8 or 9 year old self allowed my sister to do this.
In all my years in the Army, when in the deepest of depressions, it was always my sister I called. Probably every other weekend I was on the phone crying in her ears like a wimp, and every time she would listen with out judging or being harsh. When I spent all of my money on drinking and couldn't come home for Christmas, it was my sister that bought my plane tickets.
My sister does not know about my being transgender. She is now married to a good ol' Boy that has made his opinion on such matters very clear, and it is unreasonable to expect a wife to keep secrets from her husband. I often think of telling her but am afraid I have burdened her enough in this life.
Wow how I admire her - I always wanted to be just like my big sister. :-)
My Brother.
Much like my sister, my big brother was one of the tough and cool kids at school. He is two years older than I am and is also from my mothers previous marriage.
Like most older brothers, mine spent a good deal of time and effort trying to ditch his little brother - me. And like most little brothers, I wanted to hang with my big brother. Maybe I thought the "cool" would rub off on me, but it never did. He was the good looking kid, the one the pretty girls fell all over, and man did I envy him for that! He was often in trouble, and much like our big sister before us, he was sort of known at the school - by the other kids and the teachers!
Like most big brothers I suppose, mine wanted me to be tough and I can remember once or twice where he was kind enough to pick fights for me on my behalf! :-)
He also liked to "rough house" a lot and was constantly pushing me around, pinning me to the ground, etc. I'm pretty sure this is all normal big brother type stuff but man how I hated it. One day when I was probably around 14 or 15 he started tangling with me and I snapped. It was all sort of a blur, but I remember coming to my senses pounding his head into the sand stone ground in front of our cabin with my mother pulling me off of him.
My brother was always "THE" macho guy. No matter what you were doing, or who was doing it, he was going to prove he was tougher, braver, or stronger than anyone else. If we were digging trenches in the sandstone ground for laying pipes, my brother was swinging the pick twice as fast as anyone else. If carrying lumber, my brother carried twice as much as anyone. When framing houses, if someone was balancing on the roof carrying a load, my brother would take the same load and RUN across the 2 X 4s'. About ten years ago, he had his foot crushed by fork lift type vehicle being driven by an idiot on drugs with had phones on! He couldn't hear my brother screaming that he was on his foot and leg. I don't know the legal details, but the fight is still on going to get some sort of compensation. The legal stuff I don not concern myself with. What does horrify me is what it has done to my brother. He now needs a walker to stand and has in some ways I think given up. This ultra macho, never going to let anyone out do him guy, has given up and resigned himself to being crippled. It makes me so sad to see him this way and I long for the days where he would laugh as I refused his dares to climb the sheer rocks, or jump accross 20 foot drops in the rocks, or hang from a rope dangling down the rocks.
My brother DOES know about me, though I hadn't really wanted him to. It seems during one of my few visits home, my finger nails were a bot too long, or maybe I acted a bit to effeminate, but he asked my mother if I was gay, and she let me know this. I preferred my brother to have the truth and so made it a point to tell him on my next visit home. My brother, the ultimate tough guy, is cool with it. Phew . . .!
Well, if you are reading this you have probably already read some of my story in my blog, so I will not bore you with it all again. The thing is, it didn't seem fair or appropriate to put everyone elses picture out there while not risking my own, so here are the basics!
Born in Apple Valley California in 1965. I still think of Apple Valley as home.
Spent some time living with my father in Hesperia but not much. Just long enough I guess to have me transfer schools a few times to make sure I didn't have a chance to make friends. lol
Moved to Yucca Valley when in early teens.
Mom got married and we moved back to Apple Valley.
Guy was a loser, divorce followed, and we moved back to Yucca Valley again! All of these moves once again were cleverly designed schemes to make sure I had no chance to make friends. lol
Joined the Army at 17 and left for Ft Sill OK, the day after I turned 18. Spent three years there working on the Pershing 1 and Pershing II missiles (MOS 21G).
Got out of the Army for a few months and returned to California. Life turned to garbage and I woke up one day to realize that I had gone from being an electronics tech in the US Army, working on and responsible for a multi million dollar nuclear missile, to putting up chain link fences, living in a house with about 15 other people, sleeping on a bare mattress in a alcohol induced haze. In a rare moment of stunning clarity I realized how far I had sunk and rejoined the Army. Despite my objections that they were making a mistake, they sent me to Ft Lewis WA where there was no place for me to do my job. They were going to ship me off somewhere else until I reminded them that it was in my contract that I had one year there! (hey, I had my problems but I was never DUMB!)
Met my wife there and she was stupid enough to marry me. :-) Right then and there the drinking came to a virtual halt. I still drink sometimes, but no longer feel the need to drink to oblivion - I guess it was a lonely thing.
We went together to Germany for three years were we had my son! :-)
Went from Germany to Lowry AFB in Colorado somewhere around 1989 or 1990 where they retrained me into calibration and repair of measurement and test equipment (MOS 35H).
Graduated Distinguished honor graduate and this got me a post with a research and development group at Kirtland AFB in New Mexico where I spent the next two years.
Luck ran out, and they shipped my on an unaccompanied tour to Korea for a year with out my family. Moved my wife and son to Texas to be around her family while I was gone.
It was at this time government decided the Military was too large and they introduced the "Draw Down". This is where the offered career soldiers thousands of dollars to leave the service. WOW - what poor timing because it was right after this that they decided to make the US the worlds police force in the middle east. Given that my wife and I had HATED the year I was in Korea, we chose to take the money and run. I came home and promptly got a terrific job with a great company in the semiconductor industry. When I was hired, my service lab had a 286 PC and a DOT matrix printer on the floor - this was my service department. Six months later I had an ISO 9000 certified repair center up and running.
Around 5 years after that I moved to Field Service and haven't looked back.
The only thing I DON'T like about field service is that shortly after I took the position, my wife and I had a baby! I do wish I did not have to be gone so much while she is growing up, but I do my best to shower her with love while I am home.
I LOVE the way my life has turned out!

1 comment:

  1. There are bits of your story that are so similar to mine. In many ways we are poles apart, in others have the same outlook. I wish you joy and peace and I will continue to follow and enjoy your story and life.