There is much light in so many people I know. I’ve known professional mentors who guided me in their footsteps to do fulfilling, purposeful work; courageous people who have faced personal demons that have assaulted their well-being; the steadfast folx who make the Transformative journey of affirming their truth; and my wife, Lisa, who gets my utmost respect as she encourages me to be my best me, while she has maintained focus on challenges of her own.
Lately, I keep returning, however, to the main axle of the circles in which I’ve travelled, my Mom and my Dad. Lee and Art. We didn’t always see eye to eye, especially throughout my 20s; I was so apprehensive then of how they would respond to having a lesbian daughter. [Turned out okay, BTW.] As I changed with time, my perceptions of my parents changed to admiration, learning more about who they were by what they did in life.
We were one of four Jewish families in the small Alabama community in which I grew up. My parents practiced their Jewish values when standing up for civil rights in that community in the late 1960s and 70s when it was an unpopular concept. My dad’s office once got a Sunday message in the form of a smoke bomb through the front window, when he was the first pediatrician in town to integrate his waiting room. When patients had no insurance, Dad would barter services, sometimes receiving as payment a basket of freshly picked beans or a mess of perch caught that morning. My mom used her education degree to teach many adults how to read and write at the public library. She was THE best Girl Scout leader.
My parents did many cool things in their lives, loving each other unconditionally through 64 years of marriage, through many health issues. They both battled Alzheimer’s disease, before succumbing to a complexity of additional health challenges in 2011 and 2014. I didn’t see much light then, relying on Jewish tradition, family, and supportive clerical leadership to understand how to grieve. And in my sorrow, my relationship with my parents eventually journeyed full circle. What has allowed me to emerge from grief and find peace with the feelings of loss is to follow that shining light of who they were and what they did and do one something that they did. Often.
Becky is living the dream with an amazing wife of 8, 15, and 20 years… She works in the mental health field providing counseling services in Concord and NW Charlotte, as well as teaching education units for NC board professionals and diversity trainings for gender identity and sexual orientation. Becky is a co-founding member of the Charlotte Transgender Healthcare Group for best professional practices/consultation. She is a member of the PFLAG chapter in Concord-Kannapolis, as well as a volunteer with Time Out Youth.