What Does All This Mean?

After fifteen years, I went back to my hometown—Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, for a reunion with my mother’s two sisters and family, whom she hadn’t seen for 15 years and, also, to go to my 35th class reunion. Ouch~!

Much trepidation followed me as I made the 10-hour drive toward the place that held the deepest and most profound memories of my past. I didn’t realize how emotional I felt about all of it, until Allen and I began to visit where I lived and drove through the, now, desolate downtown. Places that were thriving when the burgeoning steel mill thrived and thousands of people claimed the city as theirs because of their work, were now mostly empty storefronts.

I drove up the road where I used to pick up my father from work. Two entire city blocks lay waste. Empty buildings marked their sign of age by the amount of brush and weeds growing from the rooftops and partially detached gutters. I finally reached Matilda Street, where my home still sat, perched on a small hill. It was now completely remodeled with a wooden train the size of a child’s amusement park ride in the backyard where my father once grew tomatoes the size of grapefruit.

There was Mary’s porch, where I could still see the small round woman calling me over to eat or to provide me with the love that sustained me devoid of a live-in mother and cohabitating with an alcoholic and neglectful father. My heart sank as I took pictures to capture what I couldn’t process at the moment.

I, later, went to a reunion of my mother’s side of the family, as most of my family doesn’t stay in touch with my father’s side, because of a standoff they had at my dad’s funeral. Every one of my father’s family members who didn’t approve of how my sisters and I handled my father’s funeral, stood at the top of a hill to show their disapproval as he was buried. It was a weak moment in history when people who were supposed to be supporting a huge loss stand up and fight, instead. I realize now that very few knew of the problems that existed in our home, and also didn’t realize that my father was no more a Catholic than I was a Jew. No offense to anyone reading this who is Catholic. He just didn’t subscribe to the faith; therefore, no pastor from the church would allow the funeral to be held at a Catholic church. It really wasn’t our fault at all.

Anyway, as you can probably imagine, many emotions came up when I returned to the hotel this past weekend. It felt as if my toes were a reservoir as tears poured down my face, embraced in the arms of someone who cared deeply. I asked God and myself, “What does all this mean? Why am I here facing all this now?”

The answer came later that evening when I went to my class reunion. I drove up to an old barn turned into a community room with about 100 people walking around, most of them I didn’t recognize. Allen and I parked and went to the front entrance for a name card, as I was sure most wouldn’t remember me. From that moment on I recognized why God had taken me through all of these dark allies and streets to get to this moment.

Everyone I met that night was confirming and loving and was so glad to see me and meet Allen, as well. What a healing! I’d imagine that some would be afraid of me being gay, some would mutter slurs under their breath, and some would, indeed, be authentic and loving. But none of the first two assumptions happened. Allen and I were met with respect and a great amount of honor, even. I’m proud of and cherish the memories of those who walked with me through the hard parts of my life. Many of them had similar stories they shared, which made Allen and I tear up.

Life’s not over. Sometimes from the place of your deepest fears, comes the greatest healing. Walk forward, proud of who you have become.

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Bo Sebastian is a Hypnotherapist and Life & Health Coach, available for private sessions to QUIT SMOKING, Lose Weight, New Lap-Band Hypnosis for Weight Loss, CHANGE YOUR MIND, CHANGE YOUR LIFE! at 615-400-2334 or www.bosebastian.com. FOR COMMENTS: Go to the Bo Sebastian link under the title and there is a place there to create a comment. Thanks.

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