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Where's My Gift?

By: Karen J. Allen
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon

A little more than two years ago, I sat in a small room watching the sun come up. I knew that it was time. All night I had fought to stay awake because I thought that being there was the last thing that I would ever be able to do for her. I was holding her hand when my partner took her last breath and I said good bye.

Melinda Bravo was an extraordinary person. One day, if I ever get to where I believe I can do it justice, I will write her story. Today, I simply want to honor her memory.  

I did say good bye that morning but, in many ways, she never left. Why else would I continue to buy the Downy with the green cap instead of the blue one that I always wanted to try? What other explanation is there for the fact that I alternate the colors of the towels when I fold them? I certainly never cared about that --- it had to be "brought to my attention" before I even noticed the towels were stacked that way.

Maybe we never really say good bye to those we love. And the closer we get to Christmas, the more she is in my thoughts.  One of the many reasons for that is because this is the season of the giving of gifts.

Over the 25 years that I knew her, she continually worked with folks infected with HIV and AIDS. So, there were lots of deaths. She always said that each passing left her with a gift. Sometimes it was a rainbow or a butterfly or maybe a special song, but she recognized it each time and knew that it was meant for her.

After she died, I kept waiting for my gift. There were lots and lots of little things but I was expecting something major; something that would be in direct proportion to the depth of the love I knew she felt for me and the magnitude of despair that engulfed me at her leaving.

I waited. And I waited.

Now, don't get me wrong, so many wonderful things have happened to me over the past two years. Family and friends have been there every step of the way. And, for every gesture, I am grateful beyond words.

But, still I waited.

I will confess that it didn't hit me until I sat down to write this. When I first considered writing about her, I thought of something I had talked about at her memorial service. About how, for more than 30 years, she worked as a therapist but she was born to be a healer and a teacher. I think she came into this life with a mission ---and that mission was to teach love.  Not the Leo Buscaglia "go out and hug everybody" kind of love ---- although she gave the best hugs ---- and not even the Mother Teresa "be of service to others" kind of love --- although she admired Mother Teresa tremendously and was always trying to drag me off somewhere to do the same kind of work.

Melinda taught people how to love themselves.

She recognized early in life that almost all of our problems, personal and global, come from an inner belief that there is something wrong with us --- something missing --- that if people really knew us they would figure out that we aren't worthy of being loved.

As I write this, I can see her --- that look that always meant that she couldn't believe how dense I could be sometimes.  Perhaps I was being just a tad greedy to still be looking for a gift.  Without the slightest doubt, I know that no one ever truly knew me better or loved me more. Can there be a greater gift than that?

Actually, there was. There was about a week in the hospital, before her surgery --- before we had any idea how bad things were. One day, for no apparent reason, she just looked at me and said "you know, you have always shown me how much you love me."

I appreciated her words the moment she said them, but I have cherished them ever since.

In honor of her memory, I wanted to share that gift with you. Nothing you do is as important as letting those you care about know it.  Life is far too unpredictable to wait or to assume that they know. And, trust me, that is the gift that keeps on giving.

I can still see that look on her face. Only now there's this little smile. She knows me so well!  I am the one that will keep rooting around behind the Christmas tree --- always looking for one more present back there....

Of course there is a gift for me!

For all those years she had to listen to me whine about not knowing what I wanted to do. Not being able to find a job or a career that would hold my interest for more than about 30 seconds.  Moaning and groaning about nothing being important enough to devote all that time and energy to.  

This  is my gift!  The idea came out of the blue that day to create "something" that would connect GLBT boomers so that we can keep moving forward --- together. So that none of us has to do this alone.

My gift is On the Gay Horizon!

In the coming weeks, we're going to continue to talk about all the pieces that are necessary to equalize the fact that things aren't equal for us. But, we are also going to begin introducing the topic that we are the most excited about.  Right now, we are calling it, "Out, But Not Left Out."

No matter how fast they build gay retirement communities, there are never going to be enough to safely house the millions of gay baby boomers. Irregardless of how fast the climate is changing toward gays and transgendered, it can not change fast enough for our seniors. Despite our fervent hope that Obama's legacy will include unprecedented inclusion, we simply do not have the luxury of being able to wait. The elders of our community face rejection, isolation and the accompanying fear and depression every day.

When AIDS threatened our community, we soon realized that no one was going to help us. So, we organized and quickly brought a raging epidemic under control --- at least for awhile. That is exactly what we need to do again. It is unacceptable that our seniors are being forced back into hiding, sacrificing the hard-earned self respect that has taken a lifetime to build.

It doesn't have to be that way. By using the platform provided by OTGH, we can shine a spotlight on this critical issue. And we can make a difference.

The opportunity to make a difference. Pretty good gift, huh? 

 

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Do you have thoughts on how we can provide support for GLBT baby boomers as they face issues related to aging and retirement? Share them with us at admin@onthegayhorizon.com  .

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 A New Personal Policy 

By:  Ann-Marie Giglio
Co-Publisher,  On the Gay Horizon

"Brussel sprouts?  What?  Me?  Eat them?"

That's what Karen said when I told her I had a delicious recipe for them.  So we argued about the possibility that Brussel sprouts even could taste good, let alone delicious.  In the end, we decided to let you be the judge. 

Honestly, for me, winter screams for roasting.   Especially veggies.  Having the oven on warms the house like a hearth and slips a fantastic aroma into your world. 

My recipe for roasted Brussel sprouts is very similar to most of my roasted veggies. The winter vegetables --- potatoes, especially sweet potatoes, squashes, beets, onions, garlic, turnips --- are especially made for this treatment. 

What I usually do is get some fresh Brussel sprouts, trim off the bottoms and peel away any stray leaves, then put them in the roasting pan, coat them lightly with olive oil, sprinkle some sea salt around, and roast at about 350 or 375 depending on your oven, until tender --- 20 min?  30?  And most importantly, I include a handful of pecan halves.  The fall crop.  Perfect.

Now, I see folks cringing ---- wincing, even ---- when I say "handful," "about 350," "bake until tender"...but that's the point.  Most of what I will suggest for you to try in 2009 will be low-key, stress-free --- easy.  Roasting veggies is not gene splicing.  It's a journey toward new flavors --- think of it as caramelizing carbs.  And you decide how much salt, how tender you want them to be, if you'd like to throw anything else into the pan.  Personally, I like the Brussel sprouts to be a golden brown and curling a bit around the outside edges.  And I sprinkle a bit of nutmeg on them at some point during the process.  Someone else might prefer no brown at all.  Either way, they will taste like none you've had before.  Sweet.  Tender.  Creamy.  Especially if you've been boiling or microwaving --- or avoiding them...this will be a revelation, I promise.

So, watch this space for more easy, health-making ideas this coming year.  2009 brings us a new administration, a new economy, a new foreign policy --- let's make it the year for a new personal policy as well.

Let's hit the year healthy, and hit it hard!  Together.  And really, try this recipe.  Then, let us know what you think!

The World's Tastiest Brussel Sprouts!

2 c Brussel sprouts, washed and trimmed
2 or 3 Tbs. olive oil
Sea Salt
Fresh pepper
Nutmeg (optional)
1 c pecan halves

Toss everything together in a roasting pan, the shorter its sides, the better.  Put pan into 370 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Toss everything in the pan.  Roast for another 10 or 15 minutes according to taste.


 

[Editor's Note: Ann-Marie Giglio, besides being a professional writer and the co-publisher of On the Gay Horizon, is the owner of a fitness studio focused on improving quality of life through the mind/body connection. She is a certified ChiRunning and ChiWalking instructor, AFAA certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness instructor and SCW certified Pilates reformer instructor. She is currently working on a new book for GLBT baby boomers --- Lighten Up! How to Exercise Safely and Effectively After 50]

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Guess I need to confess --- this whole Brussel sprout business was my fault. What really happened was Ann-Marie mentioned putting recipes into the program she's been developing for getting fit in 2009. So, without thinking, I said something like "that's great --- as long as you don't include something yukky like....Brussel sprouts!" Who knew they were like her favorite food? Who would have thought they were anyone's favorite food?

So, of course, nothing would do but that she defend her beloved little Brussel sprouts and encourage you all (and me) to give them a try. And, I have to admit, she does make them sound pretty good. 

We'll see.... 

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Pssst.....what I really think of this New Personal Policy...

 

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