Weeks before my firstborn grandchild, Lyn, went off to her freshman year of college, she called to say goodbye. “I’d like to visit with you before I leave,” she said. “I have something I want to talk to you about.”
I was delighted that she wanted to spend some of her busy time with me, but was curious about what she wanted to share.
Thoughts of possible topics swirled in my head and as she walked up the driveway, I noted the serious look on her face. She didn’t have the usual upbeat smile that she has whenever she sees me waiting at the front door with open arms.
“What’s up?” I asked, feeling somewhat nervous about what she had to say as we went inside to sit down.
“I’ll get right to the point,” Lyn whispered, finding it hard to look at me as she spoke.
“Grandma, I’m gay,” she said, stuttering a three-word sentence.
“I’m gay,” she repeated, emphasizing the second of the two words, making sure I understood. “This is probably hard for you to take, but I don’t want to keep secrets from you. I’m a lesbian.”
To put it mildly, I was shocked. I put down the glass of iced tea I was drinking and began quizzing her with a million questions. “Sweetie, when did you first find out? Are you really sure?” My inquiries were nonstop.
My grandchild was “coming out” to me; this is the phrase that’s used when someone has chosen to let others know that he or she identifies within the LGBTQ community.
Truth be told, I felt bewildered as to what and how I should respond. But looking at her serious expression, I knew instinctively that I needed to be supportive — as never before — to such a sensitive piece of news.
Giving her a hug, I told her that, as far as I was concerned, being a lesbian was perfectly fine in my book. But honestly, at that moment, I didn’t feel that way.
Because I knew how difficult it was for her to tell me, I decided to speak from my heart and wound up saying something like, “You are still the love of my life, and whatever makes you happy, makes me happy, too.”
This beautiful young woman broke into a big smile, and was obviously relieved. “I’m glad you understand that my loving a woman instead of a man is only a part of who I am,” Lyn said. “I knew you would accept me no matter what.”
Theoretically, I’ve always felt it’s a good thing that our society has become more accepting of diversity — and that includes gays and lesbians, and transgender men and women. But on that day, I guess I talked the talk, but was not yet ready to walk the walk. It simply hit too close to home and I wasn’t sure that I could accept my granddaughter’s unexpected news.
We changed the subject to talk about other areas of her life, including her anxieties about going away to college, the goals she had scored in soccer and other things that were going on for her.
As Lyn jabbered away, I began to understand that my granddaughter’s sexual orientation is only one small part of who she is, a tiny fraction of this fabulous young woman.
The afternoon passed quickly, and when she headed for the door to leave, I felt overwhelmed with emotion.
My firstborn grandchild — the little girl with whom I spent hours playing make-believe with her dolls — had grown into a wonderful woman. She felt comfortable enough to confide in me, her much older (and slightly outdated) grandmother. It was a moment I will always cherish.
Recently, I attended my granddaughter’s wedding to another woman. And although I still struggle with total acceptance, I am at peace with the fact that this wonderful child, the love of my life, is happy, and that in 2018, she and others, can live as their authentic selves.