For various reasons I've been thinking about my Grandmother recently, and I wanted to share one of my fondest memories of her, which happened on the day she died.  

I have always known I was gay. Just did. After high school, where I surrounded myself with my own little harem and breezed through with very little fuss, I joined the Air Force with my best friend. I couldn't afford college. And although I knew I was gay, it was all in theory, I was a virgin until the age of 19. I'd never so much as kissed a boy (or girl for that matter) so I didn't have any hesitation on joining the Air Force. I just assumed it would be the same as it was in high school, just a theory. This was in the early 80's long before DADT.

I got a cushy high security desk job that landed me in Hawaii. On my first day in Hawaii, while I was still waiting for my security clearance to be finalized, I was on "casual duty" and was assigned to work the desk at the clinic on base. It was there that I met a flirty little red headed male nurse who asked if I wanted to go to the beach the next day. Of course I said yes, and for the first time I kissed a boy, and I liked it.

Being the mamma's boy that I was, I of course called my mom the next day and told her that A) I was gay, and B) would likely get kicked out of the Air Force if it ever became known. Especially because of the super duper, kill you if you talk about your job security clearance I had (was getting). I just didn't want her to be surprised if something were to happen later on.  

I was one of the lucky boys who got the "well, we still love you" response. What I didn't know was that my maternal grandparents were staying with my parents and found out at the same time. My Grandfather was a retired baptist minister (who always, always, called me Randy Dandy -- Did he know?), and Grandma Mary was the prototypical "Minister's Wife". I didn't know that they knew for many years.

Fast forward 15 years. I've been kicked out of the Air Force (boyfriends sister turned me in about a year after I arrived in Hawaii), come home to Seattle, moved around a bit and in a relationship of 13 years. My Husband and I own our own business and have a very good life.  I got a call from Mom that Grandma Mary was dying. Again. She wasn't a hypochondriac, she just had everything wrong with her and there was some type of crisis every couple of years where she was touch and go. So off Mom and I go to New York, and unfortunately it was true this time.

She had been released from the hospital to a hospice care nursing home with water building up around her heart and in her lungs. So there I am with Mom and Aunt Becky, just chatting with Grandma when she isn't sleeping, trying to keep her as comfortable as possible. When suddenly Grandma Mary looks at me very seriously and say's "Randy, I need to ask you a question". I look across the bed to Mom and Aunt Becky and we all know what is coming, some variation of "do you accept Jesus as your savior". Being a confirmed atheist, with mild agnostic tendencies, I was quickly trying to decide how I would answer this question. Do I lie to her to make her happy or do I answer honestly?  Of course I decided I would lie. So I just looked at her, held her hand and said, "what is it Grandma"?  

She looks at me steadily for a few seconds, with a funny twinkle in her eye, and says "Why do you wear your hat indoors"? Of course we all start laughing until tears are streaming from our eyes. She died later that day.

Originally posted to RandySeattle on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 09:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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