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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Well, your Uncle Arthur was gay...

My parents have lived in the same house for 37 years and decided to clean out the closets, I guess their hopes of me moving back home have ceased.  This means bins and BINS of 1970 and 80's baby paraphernalia delivered to my siblings and my front door. Items, which I don't remember at all, which lead me to the conclusion that I will NOT be saving the boys first onsie/tooth/pajamas for them.  As my 74 year old Dad lugged this heavy box in, under the strict direction from my mom, I thought "Sure, my house is half your size, and has 3x as many people living in it, but I would be happy to take this bin from you."
But because my siblings children are older than mine, I received Nathan's baby stuff too, Jack may be sporting a polyester leisure suit in the very near future.
As I sifted through the stuff I found a red sequenced vest that my brother had worn in his portrayal of Bobby Riggs..who was/is a famous tennis player?. My mom had enrolled him in dance lessons as a kid with my sister.  He had worn this in his recital debut.  It was Jack's size, so I found myself recreating Nathan's glory and dressing Jack in the vest, with a tennis racket and sending it to my brother.. I quickly received a text. It read, "well, your Uncle Arthur was gay."
LOL. Really, I don't use that acronym, but I really did laugh out loud.
An explanation is necessary.  A few posts back I said that Nathan gets paid to take his shirt off, in all honesty that is only a fraction of what he does.  Nathan is a talented world known baritone singer, who has not only worked hard for the beautiful voice he has, but also for the body it comes from. Enough work to earn himself a Grammy, but whenever he is in an Opera, chances are the director will have him sing without his shirt...and sometimes without his pants (eek)
Nathan started singing, in public, at the age of 13 and I was 6.  I can't recall a time when he was NOT singing.
It was when he decided to pursue voice in college that my mom decided to tell her father.  So on a foggy morning at a Big Boy over waffles, my mom told her father that his grandson was going to major in voice in college. It was then that he uttered his infamous reply,
"Well, your uncle Arthur was gay....(beat) and I loved him....( beat) so I guess I can love him too."
I applaud my grandfathers openness, because "accepting" isn't a word I would have used to describe him. Perhaps it was the fact that my mom was a dancer and the majority of men she worked with were gay. Who knows, but to my grandpa anything artsy = gay.
Let me avoid any misconception here. Nathan Gunn is not gay. I'm his sister and I couldn't care less about his sexuality, but because I love my nieces and nephews and sister-in-law I'm compelled to say it, but I'm also compelled to say that if he was I wouldn't love him any less.
This statement however adds another layer of depth to the onion which was my grandpa. He loved his brother, who was gay. 
This is the same man who........
Didn't wear a seat belt.
Ran over my dog. ( she lived)
Put me in the middle front seat of his Cadillac and would drive fast over railroad tracks so I would hit my head on the ceiling.
Threw a baseball at Nathan when he was 3 which hit his square in the eye and sent him to the ER and his response was "He should have caught it"
Would drive to Las Vegas with my Grandma, only stopping for gas.. and I mean this, they had a porta-potty in their car.
Threw a Family size bible at my dad on Thanksgiving.
Put money in his shoe.
While cleaning out a shotgun in the bathroom, accidentally fired it, a bullet went through the wall, into the kitchen, through the microwave and missed my grandmother by a hair.
Ate pie by the, well, pie.
In his older years, claimed to be Jewish.
Worked off his bootlegging father's debt.
 Didn't drink (see above)
 He Loved scratch off tickets
His Mother burned to death by accidentally catching her dress on fire in a gas stove.
Stopped his watch when my grandmother died, and never re-set it.
Had a heart to heart with Nathan and told him to practice safe sex and wear "condo's".
He mowed his huge lawn with two push lawn mowers...at the same time.
Loved his family more than life.
When he was buried, we put two things in his pocket, a lottery ticket, and the picture of Nathan that he  carried around and showed anyone who would look at it.
He died in 2000, my husband didn't even get to meet him.   As he got older he was starting to be a little less, for lack of better words, less of a racist, sexist and maybe a bit more open minded,  or maybe it was his dementia.  I'm glad he didn't have to witness 9/11 and I shutter to think of how he would have reacted to a black president.
So maybe the bin of things wasn't just old junk after all.  Maybe its the conversation ( or at least a LOL) that goes along with the stuff all that more important.

1 comment:

  1. I love this story!!!!! I love when I can read something and "belly" laugh and cry at the same time. All of the things that you wrote about your Grandfather were hysterical but some of them brought tears to my eyes as well. (Especially about him stopping his watch when your Grandmother died.) How awesome it is to have such good Memories!