Remembering my Grandpa

March 25, 2011 at 9:00 am 49 comments

By Adam Bink

This will be my last post until early next week as I attend funeral services.

I was going to write this post as just an update, but telling funny stories has helped through this, so I’d just like to share as it relates to this community.

Yesterday morning my Grandpa passed away back home in Western New York. He was 100 years old. I already miss him so much it hurts.

I was thinking about generations and coming out. I made a promise not to come out to my Grandpa a long time ago, one which I have kept until the end.

For those of you who know me, you know how fierce an advocate I am. Harvey Milk’s clarion call to come out because we must be visible, lest we be persecuted and die in the closet, guides a part of my dyed-in-the-wool core belief to be open and proud about who we are so LGBT people will be respected.

But I was always okay with being silent to Grandpa. There are two reasons.

One is because of a story. Grandpa also has a granddaughter (my sister) who is married to a man. He also has two more grandchildren (my male and female cousin, who are the same age as my sister and I) who are also married to a woman and a man, respectively. That’s four grandchildren total, three of whom are married. And then there’s me. I’ve been asked by most everyone in my extended family, before they knew I was gay, the usual questions: whether I had a girlfriend, when I’m going to get good and married, if I’m seeing anyone, until my head hurt.

Except Grandpa. I can’t ever remember Grandpa asking me, even after his wife, my late Grandma (who used to ask me) passed away years ago. Maybe I should just chalk it up to modesty, but I always thought, maybe Grandpa just knew, and whatever his personal feelings, he’d just let it be. “It is what it is,” is a phrase he used to say to me, shrugging his shoulders. And I think that was okay.

The second reason is because a few years ago, I was living with my then-boyfriend, an Indonesian immigrant with a difficult name to remember, especially for a man nearing 100 years old. Grandpa had met him a few times and liked him well enough, and knew he was my “roommate”. I remember once my sister called me and told me Grandpa had asked her, “how’s Adam and his partner down in DC?” We both laughed because we didn’t know if it was because Grandpa just couldn’t remember my boyfriend’s difficult-to-remember name, or couldn’t remember if he was my friend or roommate or what. Or the last reason- we knew Grandpa watched a lot of daytime TV, so I said, “hey, maybe Grandpa’s been watching Oprah and knows the polite term for ‘committed long-term same-sex partner’, so he’s putting it to good use!” We laughed and laughed about it.

I don’t know what the real reason was, but I always like to think it was the last reason. So even though I never came out to Grandpa, I like to think he respected who I am as a man. And that’s part of the reason I miss him so much.

This will be my last post through Tuesday morning. Posting will be light from other front-pagers here. As usual, if you would like to submit a guest piece, send it to prop8trial@couragecampaign.org.

Entry filed under: Community/Meta.

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49 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rev. Will Fisher  |  March 25, 2011 at 9:06 am

    My condolonces, Adam.

    Reply
  • 2. Richard A. Jernigan  |  March 25, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Adam, you have our prayers. And even though this will sound trite right now, always remember that as long as you have the memories of your grandpa, you will still have him with you, even though you will no longer be able to physically touch him. And he will be watching over you as one more of your guardian angels. Be well, and travel safely.

    Reply
  • 3. LCH  |  March 25, 2011 at 9:16 am

    So sorry to hear about your grandpa’s passing. He was a wise man. It sounds like he accepted and respected who you are without any big announcement. Which is the way it should be.

    Reply
  • 4. Mark M (Seattle)  |  March 25, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Big hugs Adam. So very sorry for your loss :-(

    Reply
  • 5. fiona64  |  March 25, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Adam, my condolences and prayers go with you. As Richard says above, our loved ones always live in our hearts.

    Many hugs,
    Fiona

    Reply
  • 6. plainmike  |  March 25, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Probably was the last reason, Adam. Sometimes we don’t give our own family enough credit because we are so used to hiding it and expecting a stereotypical reaction, especially from older generations. My dad died 7 years ago (my grandparents are long gone) and he was only 52 and it was unexpected. I never told him, but he did have the chance to meet my husband (together 8 years now) and they really hit it off (they have a lot in common seeing as they know how to build things etc. butch stuff ;) ) I never got the chance to come out to him, but I suspected I would eventually. I found out later from his wife that he suspected it already but was afraid to say anything. They had discussed it and she said that it wouldn’t have changed anything and that he was proud of me no matter what. Adam, my thoughts are with you.

    Reply
    • 7. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  March 25, 2011 at 1:18 pm

      My experience had been when the actual subject comes up whether gay those closet already knew/know.

      Thank you for sharing this personal time with us Adam.

      Reply
  • 8. StevenJ  |  March 25, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Sorry for your loss. Prayers for you and your family.

    Reply
  • 9. Em  |  March 25, 2011 at 9:37 am

    He had every reason to be proud of the man you are, as I’m sure he was. So sorry for your loss, Adam. You’re in all our thoughts.

    Reply
  • 10. nightshayde  |  March 25, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Take care of yourself & have a safe trip, Adam. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Sounds like your Grandpa was a nifty guy.

    Reply
  • 11. Kathleen  |  March 25, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Sorry for your loss.

    Reply
  • 12. Ed Cortes  |  March 25, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Condolences from me and Walter. Our thoughts are with you and your family.

    Reply
  • 13. Sagesse  |  March 25, 2011 at 10:06 am

    100 years old… wow. I lost both my grandfathers within a year of each other when I was five. You clearly were blessed to have him.

    Reply
  • 14. Richard  |  March 25, 2011 at 10:31 am

    So sorry to hear about your loss, but your story reminded me of my Grandmother.

    I think she knew that I was gay from a very early age, even though she may not have known the words to use. She used to say to me that she knew that I was “different” from the other grandchildren and that was okay. I loved her so much. She was my go-to person with any problem I had. Always having good advice and never judgmental.

    I’ll say a prayer for your Grandfather.
    Richard

    Reply
  • 15. Carol  |  March 25, 2011 at 10:46 am

    My condolences too, Adam. You already know how fortunate you are to have had your wonderful, loving grandfather for so long. As others have said, your memories mean he will always be with you.

    Carol

    Reply
  • 16. up&Adam  |  March 25, 2011 at 10:55 am

    My sincere sympathy. Remember they always live on in your memories so you really never lose them.

    Reply
  • 17. Peterplumber  |  March 25, 2011 at 10:59 am

    I too kept “my secret” from my grandparents, even tho the rest of the family knew. My mother’s dad died before I was born, and both my father’s parents died while I was in my 20’s.
    But my maternal grandmother lived to be 101 and died in the year 2000. She was about 96 when I started bringing my partner with me to visit. We introduced him as my “friend” and nothing more was ever said. People born in the 19th century had a different outlook on life than those of us who are baby boomers and younger.

    Reply
  • 18. chris from co  |  March 25, 2011 at 11:18 am

    I’m sorry for your loss. 100 yrs old is a remarkable acheivement.

    Reply
  • 19. Michael Holzman  |  March 25, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Adam, my thoughts are with you and your family. Thank you for sharing your story. Safe travels.

    Michael

    Reply
  • 20. Don in Texas  |  March 25, 2011 at 11:24 am

    My condolences to you and your family on this loss.

    Reply
  • 21. DrRandy  |  March 25, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I join with everyone else here in extending my sympathies and condolences. May G-d comfort you amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

    Reply
  • 22. Thomas B.  |  March 25, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    My condolences to you Adam. I myself lost my grandmother, my Babcia, on Wednesday, and I never told her about my bisexuality.

    Reply
    • 23. nightshayde  |  March 25, 2011 at 5:03 pm

      I’m sorry for your loss, too.

      Reply
      • 24. Sheryl Carver  |  March 26, 2011 at 8:19 am

        My condolences to you, Thomas. No matter what a person’s beliefs about an afterlife, the loss of someone in the here-and-now is very painful.

        Reply
  • 25. DazedWheels  |  March 25, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    My thoughts are with you and your family Adam.

    Reply
  • 26. JonT  |  March 25, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Or the last reason- we knew Grandpa watched a lot of daytime TV, so I said, “hey, maybe Grandpa’s been watching Oprah and knows the polite term for ‘committed long-term same-sex partner’, so he’s putting it to good use!”

    I suspect that reason Adam :)

    Reply
  • 27. Casey  |  March 25, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Condolences and positive energy to you and your family <3

    Reply
  • 28. Ann S.  |  March 25, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story, Adam. Your grandfather sounds like a wonderful man. My condolences on your loss.

    Reply
  • 29. Reformed Conservative  |  March 25, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    It is groups like NOM that take away your freedom of privacy, if not your right to privacy.

    That is too say, because of such people, and for reason of self preservation, those that are not like the others (exactly) (supposedly :) ) must wear their sexuality openly and sacrifice themselves to be perceived through the wavy lenses of prejudice, intolerance, and hate, just so they can make it more comfortable for the more timid to finally make a run for it into the open and thereby become a force of sufficient size to fend off being subjected to repression by fear, intimidation, and state sanctioned unjustified disapproval.

    Why should someone have to “come out” to grandpa, papa, their neighbors, or anyone for that matter. Oh yes, as I said, people like NOM take away your freedom of privacy.

    Reply
  • 30. pgbach  |  March 25, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Adam,
    My deepest condolences to you. Your grandpa was a wise man. I, two generations ahead of you, also had grandparents, great aunts, great uncles, aunts, uncles, and several neighbors who accepted me as who I was without using “modern” language… Especially my Great Aunt Katie who lived with “Cousin” Vera….. we do, indeed, grow…. we do, indeed, progress… thank you for recognizing that progress doesn’t always the latest language…. we are persons and authentic persons recognize that… Adam, my prayers are with you….

    Reply
  • 31. Balu  |  March 25, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Peace and hugs.

    Reply
  • 32. pgbach  |  March 25, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    I have one question, why isn’t NOM being asked: Have you no decency? Have you no shame? It is time to make NM own their bigotry.

    Reply
    • 33. Kathleen  |  March 25, 2011 at 6:38 pm

      pgbach, I seem to recall you saying you practice law in the federal appellate courts. Am I remembering correctly? If so, I’d love to be able to ask you questions occasionally, mostly about procedure … would you please send an email to “prop8TT at gmal doc com”? Thanks!

      Reply
      • 34. Kathleen  |  March 26, 2011 at 1:30 pm

        that should be “prop8tt at gmail doc com”

        Reply
        • 35. Kathleen  |  March 26, 2011 at 1:31 pm

          “dot com” – clearly my day for typos.. let’s see how many I can manage in a single post. :)

          Reply
  • 36. Santa Barbara Mom  |  March 25, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    I’m sorry Adam ~ it sounds like your grandpa was an extra special person. My Mother passed away just two weeks ago yesterday. Although I’m relieved she no longer suffers, it is really hard that she is no longer with me. We memorialized her by sharing fond memories, some funny times, and praising the outstanding example of a person that she was. My prayers go out to you.

    Reply
    • 37. Sheryl Carver  |  March 26, 2011 at 8:22 am

      My condolences to you as well, Santa Barbara Mom. Seems there have been many passings in the last few weeks. I am so sorry.

      Reply
    • 38. Sheryl, Mormon Mother of a wonderful son who just happens to be gay  |  March 26, 2011 at 10:27 pm

      Prayers and sympathy to all who have lost a loved one. My husband’s father died 3 weeks ago. Took everyone by surprise as he hadn’t been sick.

      The memorial for your mom sounds like the one for my brother back in 2001.

      Reply
  • 39. Elizabeth Oakes  |  March 25, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    May his memory be a blessing and may you find peace in your heart soon. <3

    Reply
  • 40. Sean  |  March 25, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    I’m sorry for your loss, Adam. You will be in my thoughts.

    Reply
  • 41. Sagesse  |  March 25, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Effort To Ban Gay Marriage In Iowa Fails

    http://ontopmag.com/article.aspx?id=7916&MediaType=1&Category=26

    Reply
  • 42. Sagesse  |  March 25, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Fewer DADT Discharges In 2010

    http://www.ontopmag.com/article.aspx?id=7917&MediaType=1&Category=26

    Reply
  • 43. Brett  |  March 25, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Adam, sorry for your loss. My grandfather passed away almost 3 years ago. I never came out to him because I was always told he wouldn’t react well, and “waiting him out” seemed like the path of least resistance.

    After he passed, I found out he knew. He asked one of my Aunts, and she told him the truth. He never said anything to me, but I wish he had. Or I wish I had said something to him.

    It made it so much more painful to find out that he knew and didn’t care, and that as a result, I didn’t share with him the person who makes me so happy.

    Reply
  • 45. Sagesse  |  March 26, 2011 at 5:45 am

    NOMs must go to some wacko clown college of backward logic.

    “Well, consider the state-level data on per capita personal income growth between 1999 and 2009, published by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

    The top five states for income growth in that decade are: Wyoming, North Dakota, Louisiana, Montana and Oklahoma. Four of the five states with the fastest income growth per capita have state marriage amendments, and none have gay marriage.”

    You didn’t know that marriage amendments cause economic growth? Well read on.

    Is Gay Marriage an Economic Development Plan?

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2011/03/22/is_gay_marriage_an_economic_development_plan_109307.html

    Prepping MG’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    Reply
  • 46. Ronnie  |  March 26, 2011 at 7:30 am

    : ( …… also echoing what everyone else has said…..My grandparents on my mother’s side passed away before I was born & I have been estranged from my father’s family since I chose to distance myself from him after he chose to to believe my stepmother over me on certain things (long story short…she’s a Ramila de Ghent wannabe)….I was close with my grandmother & step-grandfather (father’s parents). They gave me my “My Buddy Doll”. My bio grandfather disappeared before I was born so I never knew him. My step-grandfather divorced my grandmother when I was a kid & moved to Georgia.

    I do miss both of them, but like your grandfather says, Adam….”it is what is”…Once I get settled in my life, I plan to mend those bridges.

    My deepest condolences…ttys…..<3…Ronnie

    Reply
  • 47. Sheryl Carver  |  March 26, 2011 at 8:25 am

    I am so sorry for your loss, Adam, but glad you had such a wonderful man in your life for so long. Like others have said, he probably knew but didn’t feel the need to talk about it. I think that sort of attitude (not needing to discuss everything) was very common in his generation.

    May you & your family be well.

    Reply
  • 48. rick jacobs  |  March 27, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I’m late to this comment thread, but I want to echo what others have said and add two personal notes:

    1. Adam is a mensch and I have no doubt that his grandfather knew that above all else. People with Adam’s moral fiber and compassion do not fall from trees. They come from strong lineage, from role models. Clearly, Adam has great respect for his family, a respect that clearly is returned. I’m with the rest of you here who think that Adam’s late grandfather probably knew that his cherished grandson is living who he is and, “it is what it is.”

    2. The P8TT community never ceases to amaze me. You are warm, caring and decent. That’s the model that NOM refuses to see. We are a community, not just of LGBT people, not just of “straight allies,” but of people who care about each other. Community built our nation and continues to make it strong. The responses here to Adam’s post make that abundantly clear.

    Rick.

    Reply

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