Posts Tagged With: Sacrifice

Discarded Obama Campaign Stickers

I was visiting overseas during the U.S. Presidential election, but I tried to stay informed. This was my first time to ever contribute to a Presidential campaign. I was also the first time I was really actively involved in any campaign. The Obama campaign had sent me a few bumper stickers as a thanks for donating and I was so excited that whenever I do get home… I was going to be able to post my Obama stickers on my little OLD truck. But my conservative mother threw them away! No thought given to the idea I may WANT them. No consideration, just trash. Some I had actually purchased. 

This campaign MEANT something to me! I willingly gave up my middle class lifestyle because of my Multiple Sclerosis and I had a tough decision to make – my lifestyle or my health. My health won-out! I gave up living in a nice house with one of my most favorite people in the world as a roommate, driving a BMW convertible and living in the exciting city of Las Vegas for living at home with my parents, with no car, in a small town in Mississippi. Like I said… NOT an easy decision, but a necessary decision. I knew the sacrifices I was going to have to make and I was lucky to have a loving and supportive family to help me.  

I struggled for two years with no healthcare because my M.S. was a pre-existing condition and this was during the time Obama was trying to get what is now labeled Obamacare passed. For the first time I saw something in politics that directly affected me and it was the President leading the cause. My new standing as a poor person with no insurance helped me see a side of this issue like others could not. I was living solely on my social security disability income and living at home, I was still only barely by. Eventually I qualified for Medicare and FINALLY had health coverage.  

My conservative, Republican, Christian family that watched more Fox News than ANY other news outlet, called Obama a socialist and believed all Fox News said, even though I was one of the very people Obama was trying to help with Obamacare – they saw it as evil and bad and so was Obama. This is when a passion for what was going on in politics began to grow IN me. My frustration also grew because I could not get them to see and understand – I AM ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE” Fox News is demeaning! My parents had Social Security & Medicare and others in my family even had Medicaid and they witnessed my struggle with health issues all-the-while I had no health insurance. I began to see “conservative” to equal – I got mine and I do not care about you.

Needless to say this created a struggle for me in relating to my family and even strains our relationship today. I felt like an outsider in my own family.  Church was so important and BEING Christian was even more important. But as the conservatives boasted of their Christianity, I witnessed a great deal of not so Christian actions. Being gay has helped me see “church”, Christians, and even God in a much different light. I saw the principles of the Democrats relate more to Christianity than the “religious right”. I wrote a blog specifically to try to engage people to explain how “conservatives” were Christian (http://wp.me/pKLa8-GU) and e-mailed a blog that asked the same but in a friendlier tone than I had be able to muster! (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2012/11/time-for-christians-to-make-a-choice/) Republicans extol their Christianity but for me it conflicts with their politics and I feel the Democrats live it by their politics.

I see Jesus as someone that would spend time with gays, having wine and talking with them, not standing in line at Chick-fil-a so the company has more money to prevent gays having equality! I see Jesus touting the GOOD of Obamacare, not worrying how it could affect his personal coverage if the uninsured get access to care! This creates for me my biggest struggle – it makes me see my dearly devoted, Christian mother and others in my family as hypocrites! They already dislike me for being so different in how I think… how could they deal with being viewed as hypocrites? Or possibly even racist because of things they say about Obama? Oh yeah, that is why it was such an internal struggle for me to live that close to them. I hate myself for seeing my family the way I do. We DO love each other… but there is no respect unless there is agreement and I just can’t agree with them. They refuse to listen to my points because I think they do not want to see the hypocrisy. But any attempts I make to talk and try to understand only ends badly! I am a critical-thinker and NEED more than rhetoric and “faith” to understand things! Now I live far away and even at a distance it still hurts me!

My father was diagnosed with Dementia and suddenly Fox News was not on the tv as much (if any actually). A few months later he had a stroke, then 9 days later died. At his funeral, all that spoke (including me) mentioned his trademark little, old, piece of crap Toyota trucks he had over the years.  I did eventually get a little money and had the opportunity to travel to see my friend I call Little Buddy (one of my FAVORITE people in the world) and when I returned from that trip – I bought a little, old, piece of crap Toyota truck like my Dad used to have. I was looking forward to putting my Obama stickers on MY little, old truck, but they were thrown away because no one considered them relevant at that house  – the same as me… discarded without consideration or concern!

P.S. I do love my family and they do love me… like my facebook relationship status says – it’s complicated! My writing is to express feelings I am unable to share otherwise and this is how I feel now.

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My Parents Are Fireworks

I claim to be a Firework (see I Am A Firework blog November 1, 2010), but for my parents – I am just a sparkler.  I can live with that because I know they love me.  Even though they cannot always appreciate my burst of colors, they have always acknowledge my sparkle.   I am the man I am today largely because of their support even when my extreme decisions have challenged them.  My parents a very conservative, religious, Fox News watching, Republicans and they do love their moderate, spiritual at best, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Democratic son.

I know they have questioned how I became so different in my way of thinking.  It is because they always encouraged my sisters and me to seek answers.  My sisters, for the most part have followed the same path as our parents.  While they can accept on nothing more than faith that the decisions they make are the best decisions, I have to try to research, study, and learn to find my own answers.  We have learned out of necessity to tolerate each other’s differences despite that we no longer understand how each other thinks, feels and lives so differently. One thing we may forget is that I am standing as stubbornly on my decisions as they do theirs.  This is the example they set for me.  My Dad always repeated the saying, “You have to stand for something or you will fall for anything.”  We need to remind ourselves that we are both standing for something even if our “somethings” are completely different.  I know I often struggle to remember this.

My parents also taught us that nothing was impossible if we set our minds to it (they enjoy using clichés).  But my mind aways worked a little more diversely, so my impossibilities were even more adventurous than they would have ever imagined.  Trying to make the impossible – possible became a challenge at which I embraced and excelled.  My parents have had limited travel experiences compared to their children because when we wanted to see the world… we literally went to see the world outside of our beloved Pike county.   For me, to the point of living in another country.

We learned what it was like to have support in the decisions we made.  They sometimes knew we were not making the best decisions but knew we could even learn from mistakes.  We had support even when things were not our decision.  Few could have more family support than I did when diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  When I decided that Colombia was an easier climate to live with my MS, even though they may not have liked my being that far from home, they supported me knowing my health was at stake.

They may not have taught us to speak our minds as much as they set that example.  There are umpires and referees that will also testify to Dad’s speaking freely about a missed or bad call on a ball field or ball court.  Now we all feel we can speak our minds and like many politicians and activist groups, we feel only the loudest gets heard.

Land was Dad’s biggest asset and he sold (at a very reasonable price) that to my oldest sister so she could build a house and live close.  My other sister has gone above and beyond by taking care of Mom & Dad with helping cook, clean, keep up the yard and even chauffeur; will get the family house and the land on which it sets.  Someone asked, “What will you get Thomas?”  The only answer I had to give was I already got my inheritance.  I got a free spirit that feels enlightened because even when I am not a beautiful firework show, I am a fun little sparkler.

Thanks Mom & Dad – I love ya!


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