I should be writing right now but Astrid and I were having too much fun in the leaves. This dog takes such glamour shots!
Hi everyone, I’m Rich, my pronouns are he/him. My wife asked that I repost this “article” I wrote as an Ally for our Queer and Allies affinity group at work. I’m proud of my company’s investment in DE&I and love being able to share in the support of everyone.
Let me start by introducing myself and we’ll get the basics out of the way.
I’m a white dude, obviously. I was born in Texas, lived most of my life in Utah and as of last year I now live in Washington state.
I’m married to my wife, Alie, and have three adult children, so we’re empty nesters with a fur baby up here in the PNW.
Let’s break that all down in the context of first impressions and general assumptions.
- Being born in Texas; If you were speaking to me right now, you might assume that I’m “hiding” an accent. I do have a slight accent that comes out when around southerners, but I was an army kid in an army town so the backgrounds were extremely diverse.
- Telling you I have lived in Utah most of my life, most people would assume I’m LDS. I’m not.
- Having three kids and being married to a straight woman, you’d immediately think I was straight, however I’m Bi.
Bias or assumptions, however you frame it, don’t speak to someone else’s journey. Mine, like everyone’s, is a sum of all the parts and the community identities we juggle.
My LGBTQ+ journey so far has been as a strong supporter and Ally. More visibly coming out doesn’t change that.
In a nutshell, I struggled with my own feelings and thoughts in a world that has a very rigid view of “normal”.
As we all know, your journey is affected by other’s where they intersect. Both positively and negatively. Ultimately people just want to have a say in their journey, especially when it’s core to their identity.
Let’s be honest, this is why politicizing people’s identity is a problem.
I was raised in a very conservative Catholic family, enough said. Like anyone in my situation, my inner identity was always different from what was considered “normal”.
I had crushes on boys as well as girls, I had a couple brief relationships with men while not married. I wasn’t “normal”. The reality was it was just easier to succumb to the pressures of normal society. I mean I could go either way.
If you know me, you know I like to tell a story, and there is a lot packed into that last statement. I won’t digress here, but would be happy to have a dialog over a beverage of your choosing.
Being an Ally has always been important to me. I hope that I can show people they’re not alone in what you’re feeling. These worlds are not easy to navigate, by any means.
Yes I’m part of the community, but my journey as a monogamist bi – to add another label – has been to give into the pressures of what other people see as “normal”. A privilege if you will. We won’t go there today…
Even as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I consider myself an Ally first. But Why? Because, my struggles are not as difficult as other groups in my community.
I’m not implying that anyone’s journey is easy and pain free. Like anything there’s a spectrum, but as an Ally I choose to put more effort in supporting and speaking up for those who need it.
I ask you to join me as an Ally for all communities of people who just want to live their own journey without the pressures and biases of “normal”.
Much like our own journeys, everyone’s “normal” is equally as different… To be cheesy.
It doesn’t seem real to think you’ve been gone for twenty years, Pingon. It’s never easy at the end of September as I let this day loom over me. It’s been twenty years but I still cried a few times today. Rich bought me some Cherry Garcia, and I finished the new final chapter of the novel I’m writing. You’re in it, you know? It’s a small part but I smile when I write her – that Lori – who also loves hairspray and hooker boots.
It’s really not the amount of time that has passed that gets to me when I think about you not being here. It’s about the amount of moments we didn’t get. The guys, the marriages(I’m one and done), the kids(Alex is 25 now!), the jobs, the hobbies, the heartbreaks, the adventures, the setbacks. All the things I’ve tackled in life that you didn’t get to be there with me for. I’ve made it a long way from that last shopping trip we went on together before you passed away. I hope you would be proud of me.
I wonder sometimes what you would think of what we’ve all been up to. What you would think about the things I’ve done – would you like Rich? Would you read my multiple drafts of my novel and give me unlimited feedback? Would you visit us in Washington? Where would you be if you were still here? Who would you be? Losing all of those moments is what hurts the most after twenty years. I think it always will. Love you, Lor.
“If you’d waited another two years we’d be dealing with cancer.” That was one of the first things I heard after my first colonoscopy one year ago today. Personal? Sure. TMI? Maybe to some. But that was a moment that triggered me. Motivated me? Woke me up if nothing else to making sure my life is what I want it to be. I’d been dealing with “health issues” since the beginning of 2020 that were new. My doctor was looking into a few things, test were done, meds were tried, and then it was time for the specialist. I was in her office for less than 15 minutes start to finish, and in that time she’d started with “we’ll do some tests and decide if we need to schedule a colonoscopy.” and switched to “I think we need to just do the colonoscopy. We’re going to need to check for cancer.” She said a few other things after that but my brain was stuck on her use of the word cancer.
I went home from that appointment a little rattled. I mean, I didn’t like having anyone use the C word regarding my health, but then I decided we were both probably overreacting. Two days after that appointment Chadwick Boseman, a man my age, died. When they said he died from colon cancer I spent the rest of my evening running down the rabbit hole. Attached to one article was a questionaire – 9 Signs You Might be Dealing With Colon Cancer. I took the test and scored 7 out of 9.
The next two weeks were fun for my husband! I flipped back and forth from I absolutely was dealing with colon cancer, and I absolutley was a hypochondriac and was probably wasting everyone’s time. That was the mindset I went into the actual procedure with two weeks later – I’m going to have to apologize for wasting everyone’s time.
When the results came back I was relieved. But I was also well aware that I’d gotten lucky. I had a great NP who was going to get to the bottom of things. And I had a great RN cousin who was willing to answer a few embarassing questions and gave me the recommendation to the specialist that I trusted right away. If you’re 45+ talk to your doctor now, and make sure you’re getting scheduled for your colonoscopy.
They’ve reduced the suggested age to 45 because the number of younger people – people like Chadwick Boseman – are a fast growing number of colon cancer patients. There’s no need to wait for 50 anymore. My symptoms were the types of symptoms that we sometimes ignore. Please don’t ignore them. Please have enough faith in yourself to trust when you think something might be wrong, even if it’s embarasing to talk about. That embarassing conversation could absolutely save your life.
Why I can’t do 3am writing sessions anymore:
- you stay up all late, drag ass the entire next day then go to bed at 8:45.
- Wake up to pee, worry about husband who hasn’t come to bed, check phone to realize it’s 11:20, so he’s fine.
- Go back to bed.
- Wake up at 2:45, when the dog falls off the bed. Comfort dog until 3:30 when she decides she needs to go out.
- Put pants on, take dog out, get dog water, get dog a little snack, wake up sleeping husband, get back in bed.
- Lay in bed at 3:54, feeling rested, wondering if it’s too early for breakfast.
I’ve been writing. A lot. I write. I write. I doubt myself. I write some more. So, if you haven’t heard from me, this is what I’m doing. I’m almost done for real. I know a lot of you have heard that before but it’s true this time. Looking forward to some time with some yarn and some needles and hooks, but for now I’m writing.
My Grandma Buster, Janice Malstrom Dumas, passed away today. It wasn’t unexpected. I don’t think many of us expected her to stay long after my grandpa passed away fifteen days ago. They’d been married for 65 years and 8 months and raised five kids together in their little home on Amber Lane, in a house that holds many of my childhood memories.
Growing up, my brother and I had Grandma and Grandpa Bear and Grandma and Grandpa Buster. The identifiers were the names of the dogs that lived at each house. My grandmothers were very different people. Grandma Buster was an observer who would spoil you quietly. Grandma Bear was the more spontaneous one. Sleepovers at my Grandma Bear’s house usually included lots of kids sleeping on floors. We’d have the run of the house, the yard, and the fridge if you could find anything in it.
Sleepovers at my grandma Buster’s house were less frequent and less chaotic.Sleeping over at my grandma Buster’s house in my memories was usually just me. I can remember mini pancakes for breakfast and following her around the house while she did her cleaning with her fancy canister vacuum trailing behind her. There were toys that had belonged to my aunts and uncle. Plastic Disney figures that still stick out for me included a blue plastic Tinkerbell with pointy wings that I loved.
We read books like Harold and the Purple Crayon, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, and Henny Penny. She’d paint her nails with one of the variations of neutral she kept in the fridge, and we’d drink Lipton iced tea on the back porch swing and watch the whirligigs flutter from the maple tree. I’m not sure who thought of it, but one day she helped me turn the whirligigs and some popsicle sticks into fairies.
One day in 2019 I found a random maple whirligig in my car, and it brought back the memories of making those little fairies in the backyard. I wrote a note and mailed the pod to my grandma, who by that time was not doing well. Between the day I sent it and the day she received it she suffered a fall that changed everything. She was fragile and frail and the dementia was stronger than ever.
In early November 2019 I visited with my grandma at her care center when she was still healing from her fall. I sat down at the table, and she asked if I worked there. She was relieved when I said no. I visited for a bit, but she never did remember who I was. The only time a connection was made was when something was said about my son, Alexandre. “He had some troubles a while back, you know?” she said. I told her I did know and that he was doing well now. “Good. I hope he learned some good life lessons from that.”
I asked my grandpa about the letter I’d sent, and he told me it was received but she’d never seen it. But Janice wanted to know what we were talking about, so I told her about the maple pod and the fairies from long ago. “I’m sorry but I don’t remember,” she told me. I told her that was okay because I remembered enough for both of us, and she laughed. It was the genuine, familiar laugh from my childhood. Quiet, trailing a little, then done.
The loss of her health was hard to watch but the loss of her memories, the loss of what made her herself, was unbearably cruel. There was so much about my grandma that I will continue to remember for the both of us. Her mini perfume bottle collection that I never got told I couldn’t touch. Shoe shopping for each new school year. Our Ashton Drake doll obsession in the 80s. How much she enjoyed taking Alexandre “downtown” in Sandy. Chicken noodle soup, green Jell-O, Angel Food Cake, and the absolute perfection that was her smashed potatoes and gravy. And numerous evenings laying in her lap in the living room while she listened to her family talk around her. All of those happy moments where there was never any doubt that she loved us.