I was born to Robert and Emily Meek in 1957. I was my mama’s 6th pregnancy, and the only one that lived. (Six years later, my sister was adopted into our family.) This meant I was, as she said, “The apple of my eye and my reason for breathing!” Add to that the fact that I spent the first 6 months of my life in the hospital, starting out at 2 pounds, 10 ounces, and 2 1/2 months premature, and the dye was cast for our future, indeed. Mama often said that the only thing she did “differently” with carrying me was that she had become a Christian, and she prayed every day, all the time, even while washing the dishes, that I would live.
Time passed. I did not have the “perfect” family (but then, who does?), but was clearly loved very much, as was my sister. We were put, as much as our parents could do so, in private, Christian schools. Plus, we always went to church. We started out Lutheran, and ran through a gambit of fundamental Protestant, neo-Charismatic, and old-time Pentecostal churches.
I was to go into the ministry. Or so everyone thought. Me? I don’t recall ever knowing otherwise. My “Christian” life was genuine enough. I remember deep reverence in prayer, as our Lutheran church opened up with “The Lord Is In His Holy Temple,” and the fire and excitement of Pentecostal meetings where the Spirit moved mightily, and the air, itself, was electrified. At one point, I was given to the idea, or experience, of having been “Baptised in the Holy Spirit” and of “speaking in tongues,” as well.
Meanwhile, I was growing up, and in going from pre-pubescence into puberty, I entered my time of gay feelings. I was floored. Utterly terrified. I knew what I’d been taught, I knew what I felt, and I knew I felt totally alone. I had no idea at all how to reconcile the two. I spent about 10 years denying my homosexuality, totally. All I accomplished was such misery that I was having suicidal ideas. I would pray for God to let a car run a red light, as I’d drive through an intersection, and that He would just take me out of this painful life, and to heaven.
One day, having talked to many fundamentalist ministers and counselors, I’d had enough. I sought professional counseling at the local, county, mental health center. This is when I came to terms with who I was, and accepted it. For the first time in a long time, I saw a sunrise, or sunset, with my heart, as well as my eyes, again, and heart a bird sing with my heart as well as my ears, again. I started to live. But Jesus was nowhere to be found in my life. I had turned my back totally on God, thinking there was no other way. I knew now, that I was not “called” into the ministry, and had, in fact, gone into nursing, as a RN.
One day, I decided I had to really put the Lord to the test, and not let other people tell me what He thought about my being gay. I went to a MCC. As I sat there, I noted the “boys” all sat on one side, together, and the “girls” all sat on the opposite side. Had it not been the 1980s, it would have looked like an old fashioned puritanical style of worship, where the men and women of colonial days sat on opposite sides, except for the obvious same-sex pairs and their genuine affection, and the modern clothing. Ironically, the minister was a woman, something rather uncommon in the groups I was raised in. She was, of course, a lesbian. Not only that, but she was an ex-Catholic. From my background, these things did not bode well. But there was something else. Something Else. Someone Else. God. The Lord was in His Holy Temple, again, and I could sense His presence with my spirit, as I fervently prayed for Divine guidance. I was clearly in a House of God. Oh, yea, they were renting a Unitarian building, too! (Egad!) Suddenly, I felt an out pouring of God’s Spirit, of His Love, into my being, and I felt the warmth of His Compassion, and clear as a bell, I heard a thought in my head that was clearly not my own, “You’re alright just like you are.” At that moment, a burden was lifted from my shoulders, and it never returned. Oh, well, almost never.
To be truthful, I haven’t always given my spiritual life, and God, the time I should, as the years have passed by, but I am working on that, again. And, my dear, sainted mama knew how to “push” my buttons, for sure, as she’d argue with me about my being gay. Father died December 5, 1996, at 11:00 AM, from a heart attack, quite unexpectedly, at home, at the age of 77. My grief was profound. Yet, I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt in my mind, that father was in Heaven, with our Heavenly Father, and all of our loved ones, who had gone on before. Mama slowly grieved herself to death. As her health deteriorated, she eventually died August 4, 1998, at 10:05 AM, at the age of 76. Before mama died, I read her a poem called “I’m Free” by Linda Jo Jackson:
Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free
I’m following the path God laid for me.
I took His hand when I heard him call;
I turned my back and left it all.
I could not stay another day,
To laugh, to love, to work or play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way;
I found that place at the close of day.
If my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared a laugh, a kiss;
Ah yes, these things, I too will miss.
Be not burdened with times of sorrow
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life’s been full, I savored much;
Good friends, good times, a loved ones touch.
Perhaps my time seems all to brief;
Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your heart and share with me,
God wanted me now, He set me free.
After I read this to mama, I told her that it was okay for her to go, and to be with Jesus, and father, and her Heavenly Father, and my 5 siblings that all died as premature and miscarriaged pregancies before me, and all of my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, and her parents, who had gone on before her. I told her that both I, and my sister, promised to be good, remember what she’d taught us, and I promised that we’d both see her in heaven. That was August 3, 1998. She died the next day. Mama’s last words were “Nothing matters but Jesus,” and she, as always, was right. Mama was always right. (Well, almost.)
(A personal note . . .) Good night, mama, as the tears are starting again, I must close now, and hope and pray that this brings some degree of comfort to others, too. I know I shall see you again, and that for you, it shall be shortly so, but for me it is oh so long, so very long. I miss you every day. I’ve stayed in the town I brought you to, to take care of you, in your last days. I walk the sidewalks we walked, stroll through the shops we shared time in, and know, that you are still with me. Love, your son.