Those Golden Eyes
Mary had the boys all packed and in the car ready to leave. Dave handed her a packet that had been delivered earlier.
"Here's your plane tickets, papers for a rental car you'll pick up at the airport, map of Orange County marked with the route
to your hotel and to the hospital. Oh, there's a credit card in there to use for any and everything. It has no limit on the
amount you can charge. Also," He handed her a small box. "this is a cell phone and a charger. Long distance calls are like
local with it. So talk to Lloyd and the boys all you want. It's got unlimited minutes. You might even call me once in a while
to let me know how it's all going."
Mary was elated when Lloyd called her. It was double the reason to get home. She hated being angry at him. For 19 years she had been given little reason to get angry at him. He was a wonderful husband and a great father. Except,( she chewed on her lip as she thought about it.) For depriving her of her brother, and her sons their uncle for all those years.
Lloyd had told her he would explain everything to her when she got home. Mary had called her mother after talking to him, to see if she could shed any light on what he was talking about. Jean knew nothing except that he had faithfully attended all of the meetings and had kept his appointments with the psychologist.
The boys were subdued as the car hurled up the highway toward home. David thinking about his move down to the University, Gary wondering about what the doctors were going to do to him in California, and Max was apparently sleeping with no concerns at all.
Mary mulled over what she knew about homophobia. None of it seemed to fit Lloyd. She remembered hearing that one of the main causes was that the person was in denial about their own sexual identity. She wondered if Lloyd might have that kind of problem and that's why he had turned hostile toward Dave. She recalled how openly fond he had been of her little brother when she was dating him. As she recalled events so long ago she realized Lloyd hadn't turned off to Dave until after David was born. Did having a son cause Lloyd to act differently? Well, what ever the reason she'd have to just wait for Lloyd's explanation.
She didn't like the fact that she was only going to be home four days before she would be leaving for Orange County where
she would be living for the next two months. She hadn't told Lloyd yet. She wasn't sure how he would take Dave's help,
Dave's wonderful gift to his youngest nephew, a chance to grow straight and tall and lead a normal life. How could Lloyd
not be happy about it.
Lloyd was nervous. How in th name of all that is holy could he possibly tell Mary everything he had admitted to Dr. Townsend. There was no way he could tell her that at one point in his life he'd been willing to leave her and his new son for the love of another man. Why should she have to bear the pain that such knowledge would bring her.
No, it would be enough just to admit that he had been infatuated with Dave and not being able to deal with it, he had made it Dave's fault in his own mind and told him to stay away from his sons. It was partly a lie. A lie that he had convinced himself to believe for so many years until the dreams forced him to admit the truth.
There was no way that he could do or say anything that would make up for all the years he had deprived his family of their only brother and uncle. He felt a deep guilt for what he had done. Well, he was going to have to exonerate himself some how. After seeking clemency from Mary, he was going to have to find the same from Dave.
He quailed at the thought of having to confess to Dave. But he knew that only a completely honest and open confession would heal the hurt he had caused him.
And his boys. He wondered how they had gotten along with the uncle they had been forbidden their entire lives. Knowing Dave, it was probably instant love and acceptance on both sides.
As he thought about it he realized that he had deprived himself also. Deprived himself of Dave. How much fuller and rich
his life could have been if he had dealt with his emotions instead of placing the blame for them on Dave and shunning him.
He heard Mary's car pull into the drive way. He stepped out onto the porch to greet his family. He heart was filled with joy seeing them again, and at the same time it was filled with dread for what he had to do. Their love for him and his for them would help him through it.
Gary was first out of the car.
"Dad, we missed you. You should have come with us. Uncle Dave and Uncle Joe are so cool."
Lloyd grabbed up his youngest hugging and kissing his cheek.
"I know, Son. But I had things I had to do."
David was next. He was as tall as his dad.
"I missed you guys." Lloyd said, as he tightly hugged his eldest.
"We missed you, too. Dad."
And then Max. Lloyd had missed Max the most. He admired how his second son struggled so hard to equal his older brother to whom every thing seemed to come natural and easy. Max was never going to be as tall or as good at sports as David, but that didn't keep him from trying. Lloyd stooped to hug him. He kissed him on the cheek and whispered in his ear.
"I really missed you, Little Man. I'm happy you are back."
Mary stood to the side watching the love between Lloyd and his boys. If it was possible she loved Lloyd more with every passing year.
As Lloyd embraced her and she him, he said for her ear only.
"Thank you, Mary. I wish that this had happened years ago."
She smiled at him but didn't reply. With his arm around her waist he escorted her into the house.
"Boys before you start settling in come into the living room and have a seat. I need to talk to you."
The three boys sat down on the couch. Lloyd took a chair across form them. Mary stood beside him with her hand on his shoulder. Lloyd appreciated that. He needed her support.
"Sons, I am deeply ashamed of what I have to tell you. But it has to be done so that you will not make the same mistake that I have.
" Love comes naturally in our lives, but to hate, one has to be taught. I am ashamed that I am guilty of having taught you boys to be prejudice against Gay people. I have used words that are wrong to use in speaking of them. And I know that you have picked up those words. Your mother has told me that you had a discussion about them with Joe. Those word will no longer be used by any of us.
"I was wrong to teach you that gays are to be looked down on and despised. They are as good as you and I and they deserve your acceptance and love. My father taught me to be prejudice. And because of that I have missed many years of sharing the love, that I still feel, with a man that used to be my best friend. That man is your Uncle Dave. I have kept him out of our lives because of what I was taught. He could have enriched our lives greatly if I hadn't. I am sorry I have deprived you of knowing him."
"Uncle Dave is really a cool guy." Gary piped.
The other two boys nodded agreement.
"Well, hopefully he will forgive me and be part of our lives from now on."
"Uncle Dave said that you are a good man, Dad."
"Unfortunately, not as good as him. So, prejudice is something we will no longer have in this house. Those nasty words that I have used will be dropped from our vocabulary and we will learn to accept and love everybody. I say we because this is something I have to learn, too."
Mary squeezed her husband's shoulder to express her happiness that once again he had proven himself to be the man she thought he was. He looked up at her, she smiled her approval.
"Okay, boys, get the car unloaded. Unpack and put all you dirty clothes in the laundry room."
Within an hour life was back to normal in the Brown household. Lloyd was puttering in the garage. Mary had just finished cleaning the kitchen even though Lloyd hadn't really left it dirty; she just felt it had to have her touch to be as clean as she liked it. Gary was in the back yard playing with the two boys from next door. Max had gone over to Jimmy's, his best friend's house. David was somewhere in the house reading.
Mary dried her hands and stepped through the door from the kitchen into the garage. She leaned against the door jam and watched Lloyd tinkering with the engine of the old '54 chevy pickup that was his main hobby. All she could see was his backside. He dropped his wrench; it clattered on the concrete floor under the pickup. He muttered something unintelligible under his breath as he raised up and bumped his head on the hood. Mary tittered. He turned and glared at her.
"How long have you been watching me?"
"Only long enough to see you drop your wrench and bump your head. You've still got such a cute little backside."
He pulled his chin into his chest and looked up at her with a raised eyebrow as he grinned at her. She wiggled her eyebrows at him. He ducked under the front end and retrieve his wrench. He laid it on the bench and wiped his hands.
"Do you feel like listening to me?"
"Of course, sweetheart, let's sit in the livingroom. The boys are all out and about right now."
Lloyd motioned for her to sit in a chair. He sat across from her. He studied her face and then dropped his eyes as he started speaking.
"Twenty years ago a young man fell in love with a beautiful young woman and married her. She had a very handsome younger brother who was a star football player who he became close friends with. He fell in love with her brother, too. He hid that love until one day her brother announced that he was gay. This threw the young man into an emotional chaos. There was a possibility that her brother would return his love. He told him how he felt about him. Her brother told him that although he loved him as a friend, nothing could come of it because he had a beautiful young wife and a child on the way. He pointed out that that was much more important than anything else. Feeling like a heel for letting himself get carried away and also feeling the pain of rejection, the young man twisted the situation in his mind to make it her brother's fault for making him feel that way toward him. He shunned him and cast him out of his life. And out of the life of his wife and children.
"He had so convinced himself that her brother was at fault that he blocked the truth out of his mind and memory."
Lloyd had stared at the floor the entire time he told his story. Now he looked up at Mary. Her face was expressionless.
"That young man was me. I went to the first PFLAG meeting. That night I had a dream. In it Dave kept looking at me with this hurt expression. I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep. The next night I had my first meeting with Dr. Townsend. He gave me some literature to read.
" That night I dreamed again basically it was the same but everyone was asking me why. Why what? I closed my eyes and there was Bill asking me how I could have hurt Dave like I did. Why did I do it? Until I told the doctor the dream and he started delving into how I felt about Dave I didn't have a clue. Suddenly the memory of the incident came back. I was so ashamed. I had ruined a wonderful friendship. I had nearly wrecked my marriage. Dave had steered me in the right direction and I had rejected him. I covered a wrong with a worse wrong."
Lloyd stared at the floor. Tears dropped from his eyes forming a small puddle on the hardwood floor. Mary stood and stepped over to him she ran her fingers through his hair. He raised his head and looked at her through tear blurred eyes.
"I am so sorry, Mary."
She knelt and embraced him. He laid his head on her shoulder and cried.
"I'm sorry, too, Lloyd. But it's in the open now. You're dealing with it. Everything is going to be okay."
"You forgive me?"
"I forgive you, my love. I forgive you."
David sat in the den. His book forgotten on his lap. His head laid back into the wing of the chair. He'd heard his dad's
confession to his mother. Tears coursed down his cheek. He had just realized that his dad wasn't a super being . He was
human. He had a flaw.
Lloyd and Mary thinking that they had the house to themselves slipped down the hall to their bedroom. David rose and
quietly left the house.
After a wonder session of making love to each other they lay relaxed in each other's arms. How to tell Lloyd about leaving for California with Gary Tuesday morning weighed heavy on Mary's mind.
Lloyd lay on his side watching his wife as he stroked her long lean torso. He knew that this was one of the things she loved about him. He never ignored her after sex. He could see that she was definitely preoccupied with something.
"You are still thinking about what I told you awhile ago."
"What? Oh, no Lloyd, I told you it is behind us now."
"Well it's not quite. I still have to try to set things straight with Dave. So what has you so preoccupied?"
"Yeah, I worry about him a lot, too. At least with David receiving that grant we can put more money toward Gary's operation."
"Lloyd, what do you know about Dave's partner that died last year.
"Bill? Not much. Why do you ask?"
"Do you know what his last name was?"
"Let's see. I should. It was something that started with a W, I think."
"It was Way."
"Right Bill Way."
"And the grant David accepted came from...?"
"The Way Foundation. There is a connection?"
"Yes, Dave and Joe set up the foundation in memory of Bill."
"Back up. Who is Joe?"
"Joe Paolini is an internationally acclaimed architect. He's Dave's partner."
"You mean lover?"
"That, too." Mary conceded.
"Okay. So they set up this foundation. If I remember correctly there are ten grants of one hundred thousand each granted each year. Where did they get that kind of money?"
"Bill's parents were some of the wealthiest people in the world. Dave ended up inheriting it all."
"So Dave wanted to help us with the boys education, so Joe suggested the Foundation as a blind to get the money to David without your objection."
Lloyd was quiet for a few moments.
"He could have asked me."
"How could he have done that? You haven't spoken a civil word to him for nearly twenty years. And with the mind set you still had last week would you have accepted it?"
"No. I would have taken it as a personal affront that he thought I couldn't put my own kid through college."
"And would you look at it that way now?"
"No, I know that it would give Dave great pleasure to do such a thing for us even though I have been such an ass."
"Well, he's gone one further."
Mary paused. Not for effect but out of fear that Lloyd might go ballistic.
"You are going to tell me, aren't you?" He finally asked.
"He has put up the money for a whole new wing for research into the causes and cure of spinal ailments at the Children's Hospital of Orange County and a huge grant to pay for such research."
"Okay. How soon are you leaving to take Gary out there?"
"That's what big money can do."
"You know there is no way I can ever repay him don't you.?"
"Sure there is."
"Love him like you used to. Be his friend."
"I never stopped loving him. I just could show it. I was going to go down to see him and tell him that."
"This makes it feel like I'm doing it out of gratitude."
"I know. But you'll just have to convince him it's not."
End of chapter 15