I, me, mine

Hello all,

I have thought long and hard about when this day would come.  It is time for me to shut down the blog.  I am keeping the domain but regular posting will be a thing of the past.  I will continue to use flickr since I have family who are not on facebook or instagram to see pics of the kids.

On Tuesday, 5 years after Lambda Legal filed a federal suit against the hospital in Florida, the US Supreme Court found Section 3 of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) unconstitutional AND the Justices dismissed the challenge calling for the end of same-sex weddings in California without merit.  Ultimately, this means that couples in one of the 12 states and DC that have marriage equality, those couples will now receive all the rights, privileges and responsibilities at the state level and now the federal level.  May seem inconsequential but it’s over 1100 rights that the Justices confered on all married gay couples this week.  This is huge it means that now the widow of a same-sex spouse will not see her life erased by the stroke of pen when a death certificate is issued and her wife, husband, partner – as “single”.  It means that Social Security Administration will treat the children of gay married couples as equal and that a partner is now entitled to the social security benefits that any other spouse gets when one dies or becomes disabled.  Military families now will be able to get their spouses on base to shop at the PX, or live on base, or receive proper treatment should their spouse die while serving.  I could go on and on.  For Prop 8, the court effectively took the last argument the extreme right has that they are some how “harmed” by marriage equality.  There is no impact on their lives personally and as a result, the court paved the way for lifting the stay on gay marriages in California.  Officials are predicting that marriages in California could resume as soon as 30 days.

So as I have reevaluated the purpose of this blog, I think 7 years ago when I started it was mainly a way for family members to keep up with the kids and see the latest pictures.  With the advent of social media and other platforms, that function of my blog has passed.   I turned the blog into a vehicle for my grief.  Good or bad, that is what happened and I appreciate all the people who have read my updates and sent emails of encouragement.  However, I am ready to the put the “I” in my statements.  I have finally come to the point that I no longer feel an every minute of every day  need to refer to everything as “our house” “our kids” “we this” and “we that”.  I have come to realize that it is alright for me to call them “my” kids and no one is going to judge me that I am forgetting Lisa and all she was to the LP Family.  But that is just it – she WAS.  I am ready to stop the nightmares of me sitting at Skaget beach and hearing the payphone ring and it be her on the other line asking “why I left her”.  I am finally ready to reclaim who I am.  It is now my journey not “our” journey.  It is now “my” house not our house.  I will never forget our 18yrs together and the family we started but it is just time and I think 6+ years may seem too soon for some and other are saying “finally”.  However, this where I am right now.  I am not saying I will never post again but the days of the tribute videos and counting the days that she has been gone, are done.  I appreciate all of you for sticking with me and to my closest friends and my family – thank you for allowing me this time to figure it out and for being there as I have found my way through this dark tunnel called grief.

After nearly 7 years, hundreds of pictures, 444 posts and over 100,000 views – it is time to put up the “closed” sign.  This decision also means that I am stepping back from regular public speaking because I just need to for me.  I have given over 70 speeches or interviews in 6 years.  I am not sure I can give any more at this time and in light of the SCOTUS rulings, I am assured that marriage equality for all US citizens in just a matter of time now.  I have met amazing people along the way who continue to give their entire life to equality.  I applaud every one of you.  It is time for me to quietly bow out and hand over the baton and let someone else run with it now.

I have been humbled by all the love and support my family has felt since February 2007.  Thank you all.

Peace

me

Summer for the LPFamily

scan0004 scan0005June 22, 2013

Well first and foremost – Happy Birthday to our Rosie.  She turns 35 today, how is that even possible? It seems just yesterday she was brought to us by Jan Spears late on a Friday – the regular MO for my former agency.  She was unsure of the sheepdogs, announced she only like the color black and we looked at each other thinking of her bedroom we were about to show here was really decorated for a 4 year old not a 14 year old.  But by the end of the weekend, we all relaxed as we planned on transferring her to our middle school, getting clothes and shoes and her favorite drink at the time – Snapple.   We were all in unchartered waters, I was 24 years old with a 14 year old.  We became Rosie’s guardians a year later.  Teaching her how to drive – a stick, getting her into sports for the first time and sending her to Germany with her High School class.  What an amazing woman she’s turned out to be, raising her son and being so involved by coaching his sports teams and volunteer at his school.  Happy Birthday to our Rosie!

In yesterdays mail, I received a graduation announcement from Tanner.  Tanner lived with us for 8 months in 1994 into early 1995 until he was adopted by his grandparents.  We celebrated his first birthday with him – and he was our first “baby”.  Rosie and I taught him how to walk by bribing him with ice cream sandwiches.  Oh my and now he has graduated from High School.  Congratulations little guy.  You are ready for the world.  Above are pictures of Tanner at his first pumpkin patch trip and his first OshKosh outfit/pictures.  What an amazing kid!

I always randomly do M, D, D, K updates but today I’ll go in age order.

Katie has finished her sophomore year at Timberline.  She applied and was just hired by the City of Lacey as a Lifeguard and swim instructor.  She was born to be a fish.  She enjoys long boarding with friends, driving (I’m surviving), and hanging with friends.

David registers for his senior year of High School on Monday.  He is required to complete at least 20 hours of community service by April 2014. He applied as a volunteer with City of Lacey Parks and Rec and they put him right to work this weekend. He is helping with a huge fast-pitching tournament.  He will finish all 20 hours in just this weekend.  He is learning great skills and the staff have been fabulous with him.  David continues to referee U-10 to Adult soccer games.  He has found his niche by being one of the sideline refs (the ones with the flags).

Danielle has been home from Eastern about 2 weeks.  She finished her spring quarter on the Dean’s list once again. That is 2 out of 3 quarters of her freshman year on the Dean’s list.  She is amazing.  She is starting work again at the Dollar Tree – where she worked last summer.  David finished as the top golfer for Timberline High School.  We should play in a Junior Tournament in August which will be great experience for him.

Michael is doing alright.  We had a bit of a hiccup with his behavior with his staff 3 weeks ago that lead to some unfortunate consequences.  However he is working regularly a few hours on Friday and Saturday – which is fantastic.

The girls are going to the Cape the first 10 days of August and will get to see the Pond clan with all the cousins, Aunts, Uncles and G’ma and G’pa.  David and I may take a small road trip to the Oregon coast while the girls are on the Cape.

If you are on fb – David, Danielle and myself are on there.  Katie does Instagram mostly.  Michael likes to talk on the phone.  If you are unsure of how to reach one of us – send me an email through the blog and I will make sure you get the kids’ contact information.

Peace

4/9/2013 – Windy City Times by Deanna Duff

The April 9 incident of a Missouri man, Roger Gorley, being forcibly removed from the hospital bedside of his husband, Allen Mansell, once again brings into focus the consequences of laws such as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 federal law restricting marriage benefits and cross-state marriage recognition to same-sex couples.

 

Same-sex married couples are denied more than 1,000 federal rights and benefits—including many medical benefits and protections —afforded to opposite-sex couples.

 

According to reports, Gorley was visiting his husband, a patient at the Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., when a family dispute occurred involving Gorley and his brother-in-law. Even though Mansell requested his spouse’s presence, and Gorley possesses medical power of attorney, security and police were called. Gorley was handcuffed and forcibly escorted from the premises. Gorley cites the couple’s sexual orientation as the cause for his removal. The American Civil Liberties Union is looking into the situation.

 

The Research Medical Center posted a public statement via their Facebook page stating, “In accordance with HIPAA, all Research Medical Center can report is that this is NOT a Gay Rights issue but an issue of disturbance where a patient was not able to get the care he needed.”

 

In February 2007, Janice Langbehn suffered a similar experience with her wife, Lisa Pond. The Washington residents and their children were on an R Family cruise when Pond suddenly collapsed and was rushed to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Fla. The 39-year-old—a Girl Scout leader, PTA volunteer and active participant at their local church—suffered a traumatic brain bleed. Langbehn, Pond’s partner and wife since 1988, was denied visitation. Pond died the next morning.

 

In direct response to the Langbehn-Pond family’s experience, President Obama sent a memo to the Secretary of Health and Human Services in April 2010 directing HHS to address hospital visitation and other health care issues surrounding the LGBT communities. The following November, HHS announced new regulations that broadened hospital visitation and banned discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender, etc. The revised federal regulations took effect in January 2011.

 

However, with the Defense of Marriage Act on the books codifying the definition of marriage to exclude same-sex couples, it weakens efforts to safeguard rights such as hospital visitation. The U.S. Supreme Court is deliberating a portion of DOMA now, and a ruling expected in June.

 

Langbehn shares the details of her experience and thoughts regarding the future of LGBT rights.

 

 

Windy City Times: What was the situation when you arrived at the hospital?

Langbehn: It was me, our three kids (then ages 9, 11 and 12) and seven pieces of luggage. I went to admissions and asked the woman, “They just brought my partner in. Are there forms to fill out?” She told me to just sit down and wait. Being a medical social worker myself, I figured they were still getting things settled. About 10 minutes later, a gentlemen came out, Garnett Frederick, a social worker. He said in a warning tone, “Just so you know, you’re in an anti-gay city and state. You will not get to see her under any condition.”

[Langbehn was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999. Due to her medical situation, she and Lisa knew the importance of having advance directives, living wills, etc. They already possessed all the appropriate legal documents and Langbehn had them faxed to the hospital within 20 minutes of Frederick’s comments.]

WCT: How long before someone came to discuss Lisa’s status?

Langbehn: At about two hours in, a surgeon came out, scrubs and cap on, and said Lisa had a massive bleed in her brain and they needed to put a pressure monitor on her … I said to do it. He left and I didn’t see him again.

About an hour and half later, two surgeons came out and explained that she had a massive bleed that had pushed one side of her brain into the other. One pupil was already dilated, which meant there was already some brain death. They explained that surgery could drain some blood and we could wait and see, but they felt it likely wasn’t survivable with any quality of life. They received a page, left and came back to say that her other pupil had blown and the major part of her brain was dying.

In her living will, she didn’t want heroic measures, but she was an organ donor. I said that I needed to see her. I was making decisions in a vacuum. I needed to lay eyes on her to know that it was as dire as they said. The doctor told me they’d get me back there and then left. I never saw them again either.

WCT: When were you finally able to see her?

Langbehn: At about five and half hours into this ordeal, I said that I needed a priest to do last rites, what they now call anointing of the sick. I also wanted to see her first before the children so I would know what to explain and so they wouldn’t be terrified by the machines. When I finally saw her, I was trying to take everything in. Lisa was restrained to the bed, unconscious and on a ventilator. The trauma room/OR wasn’t busy. It was fairly quiet. After last rites were done, the priest gently guided me back to the waiting room and I never saw him again either.

By then I was getting a little frantic because I knew how serious it was. I kept saying that the kids needed to see her. The receptionist, who’d been telling me for six and half hours to sit down, became even more forceful and said, “Honey, they’re too young to see her anyway.” She told me to go sit down and they’d get me if I was needed.

At seven hours in, around 11:30 p.m., I finally let myself quietly cry a little. I felt so defeated.

[Lisa’s sister and brother-in-law drove from Jacksonville immediately after Langbehn notified them of Lisa’s collapse. They met Langbehn at reception and were told that Lisa had been moved to ICU over an hour earlier. No one had informed Langbehn.]

WCT: Did the hospital administration’s attitude change after Lisa’s sister arrived?

Langbehn: I really don’t know what would have happened if her sister hadn’t arrived or if I would’ve had to wait until her dad arrived the next day.

At 12:15 p.m., that was the first time I was able to hold her hand and stand next to her. It was the first time the kids saw her since 3 p.m. that afternoon.

Lisa was pronounced (brain) dead at 10:45 a.m. the next morning.

WCT: You’ve been a tireless advocate and spokesperson to raise awareness. Are most people shocked to learn this happened so recently?

Langbehn: There is a sense of disbelief that this could happen in 2007, that somebody—multiple people—could be that cruel. Holding the hand of your loved one as they’re dying is not a gay right, it’s a human right. Lisa should have been able to feel and perceive us as much as possible so we could make her last moments peaceful. What remains in my mind is that she was alone and restrained to a gurney. How horrible. That’s how I remember her last moments.

WCT: Lambda Legal, an organization that works on behalf of civil rights for the LGBT communities, filed suit against Jackson Memorial Hospital in 2008. The federal court dismissed the lawsuit. What was the reason for the lawsuit’s dismissal?

Langbehn: In the judge’s opinion, he cited that because of the five minutes I saw her with the priest (during last rites), that was all the duty of visitation the trauma center owed me since we weren’t a legally married couple. Also, because the surgeon consulted me about possible surgery while in the quiet room, that was all that was owed me and therefore did not violate power of attorney. However, he also said that, by all accounts, what happened to us was unbecoming of such a renowned institution.

WCT: Many states, including Washington, already have legislation that protects couples against experiencing your medical situation with Lisa. Especially considering the Supreme Court hearing regarding the Defense of Marriage Act, why is it important to have more universal standards?

Langbehn: We live in a society of planes, trains and automobiles. We’re a movable society. What (rights), domestic partnerships and so on that might be recognized in a state such as Washington, may not be recognized somewhere else such as Florida. As soon as you go to another state on vacation, your rights stop at the border. This patchwork of rights throughout the United States is crazy. When DOMA is finally stripped down, it will mean that when you say “this is my wife” here (in Washington), it will mean the same thing (legally) in Kansas, Alabama and California.

 

In October 2011, Langbehn was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal, nation’s second-highest civilian honor for her ongoing advocacy.

Where are we now?

The holidays are behind us.  Danielle started her second quarter at EWU and is learning to adjust to the snow of Spokane.  David just returned from a school sponsored trip to DC watching the second inauguration of President Obama.  Katie is playing basketball and about to turn 16 and take her driving test (Yes, my 4th and final teen I taught to drive).  Michael is hoping to move in with a more able-bodied roommate so they can do outings together.  I am signed up to take the State Guardian Ad Litem program to expand on my volunteering CASA duties with Thurston County Superior Court.

I received an invitation from the White House, Office of Public Engagement to attend the inauguration of President Obama.  Unlike David who planned his trip to DC for over a year, I only received 9 days notice – apparently after an oversight it was assumed, as a Presidential Citizen Medal recipient, I already received my invitation.  Since I spent much of 2012, close to home and not engaged in public speaking, I didn’t want to ask for sponsorship from any of the LGBT groups.  However, once I posted on FB that I received an invitation – and my step-sister Teresa said “you better get your ass there” others jumped on the band wagon. Airline miles were donated, a “chip-in” account was started for expenses and best of all – Tom Sullivan, who since its inception on the Health Care Quality Index at HRC, offered up his sofa bed.  It seemed a hastily planned trip might be possible.  And then, GLAAD’s (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Charlie Wells called and generously offered two round-trip vouchers on Southwest Airlines a corporate sponsor of GLAAD.  I am blessed.  I asked Katie to come with me but she didn’t want to miss school or more importantly basketball.  So I asked Sarah Jane to come with me but she was just recovering from surgery and it didn’t seem like a wise idea.  So I asked my crazy bare-foot running friend Christine to come along.  I jokingly call Chris, “my straight ally who knows more gay people than me”.

Chris has never visited DC.  What an adventure we had.  Tom and his husband TJ were amazing hosts – feeding us great home cooked meals and driving us to Mt. Vernon and then to the Washington Mall.  The guys also made sure we had our metro cards all ready for the big day so we could get down to the Capitol.  We visited the Lincoln Memorial, and looked out at the mall were Martin Luther King Jr, gave his speech at the March on Washington 50 years ago.  Then hearing the President call for full equality for the country’s “gay brothers and sisters”.  It was a truly historic day with the Inaugural Address, the Poetry and the Benediction all call for full equality for all Americans.  It was electric to be among the crowd of 1 Million people there to witness history.

I am grateful that this trip to DC allowed me to finally see places I have missed because of only being in town 2 days at most and being caught up in meetings – I am not complaining, it was pleasant to experience DC in a different way this time.

Thank you to Tom, TJ, Chris and all the individual donors on the Chip-In account that help pay for food and expenses.  A huge thank you to Southwest Airlines and GLAAD for sponsoring my trip to DC and allowing Chris to come along to help me get physically get around with my MS.

Peace…

saying ‘goodbye’ to 2012

For over two years, Danielle was certain that the Mayan’s were right and the world was going to end on 12.21.12.  Now that it’s the 22nd, she breaths a sigh of relief and so do I – because I don’t have to present logical analysis against the illogical fear or a teenager.

We started out 2012 with a huge bang down in Pasadena for the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl (Oregon Ducks v Wisconsin).  Lisa’s portrait was placed on the float as an organ donor and I received the honor of riding on the “Donate Life Float” – with last year’s theme: “For one More Day”.  Very fitting.

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Our springtime brought knew people into our lives – Fash and Susan the Director/Producer and Actress of the short film (31min) loosely based on our story.  It’s beautiful and wonderfully done.  Hopefully 2013 will see the feature film. Image

As David worked and worked at improving his golf game – he made it to Leagues and did outstanding.  He earned his Varsity Letter – and he never takes his Letterman coat off.  Then before we knew it – Danielle was graduating – with honors and with passing all the State required tests.Image

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And in just five minutes, 15 years of worry, loss of sleep and nearly bribery was all washed away in those 5 minutes with Danielle receiving her honor cords, and her fresh Hawaiian Lei from above protecting her.  I had a lot of help in getting Dani to this momentous occasion and if I start to name some of you and leave others out – I’ll never hear the end of it – so you know who you really are.

I had great plan for the summer – take the kids to all the places we used to visit – the zoo, NW trek and on and on.  I hoped it would help all of us.  However, Danielle got her first job, David was referring soccer matches 2-4 a day on Saturday and Sunday while Katie played soccer and completed her Lifeguarding course.  So the summer slipped by me and I didn’t achieve nearly what I hoped.

As the summer wound down, David started his Junior Year, Katie her sophomore and decided to swim again for the Varsity team.  This year she made it all the way to one step below state. Image

Shortly after Katie’s swim season started, David began volunteering with YMCA K-1 outdoor soccer team as the assistant Coach.  And then of course there was driving to Spokane/Cheney to send Danielle off to college.

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And here is Danielle with her Freshman class – she reports she is somewhere in the “W” of EWU.

Swimming ended with Katie adding more patches to her letterman jacket.  David referred 24 Youth Soccer Games as well as coaching the little ones from the YMCA.

We hope our end of year letter find you well in health and in life.  As I went through pictures there is one from our last family vacation in San Diego in 2006 that I have to share – because Lisa is never far from my thoughts.  Merry Christmas to all.

Peace

The Langbehn- Pond’s

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My Family – complete.  How I am choosing to remember my life – for now

my missteps

December 6, 2012

History happened at 12:01am in the State of Washington.  Not only did same-sex couples line up to get their legal marriage licenses all over the state BUT Washington State marked a wave of change in the fight for equality.  Washington along with Maine and Maryland broke the long running streak of 32 voter losses over the years when marriage equality was a ballot measure.  Minnesota also defeated an attempt to change their state constitution to define marriage between one man and one woman. National polls are also turning in the favor of marriage equality with percentages running just over 50% of the population who support marriage equality.  However, as my community celebrates these historic moments, there is still so much to do both Nationally and Internationally.

I have tried for weeks to think of what to say about this event and trying to update my blog, which as been silent for too long.  And I find myself incredibly stuck because of my personal loss as well as what also needs to be accomplished.  We still need to have ENDA (Employment Non Discrimination Act) to a pass congress.  Then there is DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) defining marriage between one man and one woman.  LGBT individuals still face housing discrimination in way too many states and jurisdictions.

Do not get me wrong – my heart is overjoyed as I see all the pictures of couples getting legal marriage licenses in Washington last night and from here on out.  I feel some amount of guilt because I didn’t fight hard for equality and sooner in my life.  Lisa and I had our Holy Union back in 1991.  We committed ourselves to one another in front of family, friends and God.  We took our vows as seriously as any committed legally married couple.  Maybe that was my mistake?  Lisa and I worked in jobs were we could be “out” beginning in 1994 and when she left her State Social Work job to stay home and raise our foster/adoptive kids we only had to pay one year of health benefits separately for her because WA state allowed for Domestic Partners to receive life/death/disability and health insurance as long as we signed a paper and provided our Holy Union certificate.  So since 1998, we felt “equal” to our straight friends and co-workers.  How could I be so damn naive?

Very early on in 1988 and 1989 when we went to buy a car together we drove up and down car row in Tacoma and dealer after dealer said they would not sell us a car “together” until we met Preston Glaude at South Tacoma Honda.  It was about our 8th dealership in two days and before we even got to the application – we both were blunt and said will you sell a car to two woman, both of us on the title?  I said I don’t even want to look, get our hopes up maybe even do a test drive and then get to the application and be told sorry only one or the other can be on the title.  Preston looked at us like we were aliens and said  ”why wouldn’t I sell you a car?” So since 1988 we have bought all our new and used cars at STH from Preston.  It never occurred to me until recently, that I let opportunities for bigger change slip through my hands.

Foster Parenting was a bit nerve-wracking also but only because we were only 22 and 23 when we applied for our license and what the heck did we know about raising kids.  We were more worried that the child’s room was suitable in our rental house than we would be turned down because we were gay.  Adoption was our next step and we made a calculated decision on two fronts to guarantee we could start a family – one we wanted a child with disabilities which we felt capable of handling and second a child who was considered hard to place.  We already knew a gay couple in Tacoma who adopted from WA state and besides I worked for the agency that did adoptions.  We literally picked Michael from a book of hundreds of kids just waiting for a forever family.  Once we adopted Michael and “proved” ourselves as very capable parents – well 3 more kids came without hesitation and truthfully we could have just as easily wound up with 6 kids and 4, being gay was not an obstacle in the adoption process.  Again, I feel   as if I did a huge misstep with my community – this was back in 1996 to 1999, why didn’t we ever think to go and apply for a marriage license and push the issue socially.  I have no good answer and definitely feel I let our community down as I look back.

So here it is 16 years AFTER our first adoption and we have marriage equality in WA state.  I wonder if all my missed opportunities played into my decision to speak up when Lisa died.  As I try continually process my decision to go public – my guess is that I am trying very hard to make up for all the times Lisa and I could have stood up for our community.  We lived in such a bubble – besides being denied to buy a car together 24 years ago, we didn’t face direct discrimination for our relationship.  Our school district understood that we were mom and mom and when it came to Father’s day – to ask the kids which Uncle or Grandpa they were make a gift or card for.  Especially once David and Katie went to Waldorf and only had 12-14 kids in their class and they knew other kids with two moms it was an issue lost again because of who we surrounded ourselves with.  Both our families readily accepted our kids as their nieces, nephews and grandkids.

I admire anyone who is “before their time” on social justice issues.  I truly hope that the momentum for equality continues and the waves of change ripple out to all communities until everyone enjoys true freedom and equality for who they are as a person and that is all.  Happy Marriage Equality Day Washington State!

The Dreaded “Holiday”

I know what you are thinking.  I am talking about Thanksgiving, since I can’t cook, or Christmas because of the memories.  Nope, I’m referring to the one with ghost, goblins and carved pumpkins.

You are saying to yourself – what a “kill joy”.  Yep I am.  I remember my first halloween vividly when Mrs. Sprague, my childhood friend Jill’s mom, sewed me the greatest witches cape and made a pointed hat.  I was in Kindergarten.  I love putting on the cape.  It hung carefully in my mom’s closet that ran the full length of a wall in her room.  It was a closet where I could walk in one side and creep along the slanted roof to the other door and come out the other side of the closet.  Great for hide and seek…. but I digress.

I don’t remember much about the first time I went treat or treating, my brother Gary, 7 years my senior was in charge of taking me.  The candy was great and all, I think but don’t really remember – what I do remember was the witches costume.

So what is there to hate about Halloween?  After Kindergarten, the celebration went down hill rapidly… In first grade, I again looked forward to what I would “be” for Halloween.  Kimmi and Kati from across the street were planning their costumes and as I queried my mom, I don’t remember a response.  What I do know is that the witches costume, hat and all, waited in her closet.  It would have been “ok” I suppose except that I grew enough that the cape that once hit me around my rear end now was up near my waste when I put it on.  But it a witch was all I had and so I obediently put on the costume.  Back in the 70’s kids wore their costumes to school and it was clear that my witch cape was much too small and I received stares from classmates.  I don’t even remember going door to door.  Gary may have taken me, my other brother and sisters were out of the house (9-12 years older), so taking “Janny” fell on Gary’s shoulders.

Now as second grade approached and the witch’s cape still hung in my mother’s closet, I already knew the answer to what I would be “if” I chose to go trick or treating and dressing up for school.  I feigned to my teacher that “I forgot” my costume.  So my disdain for Halloween began and only worsened from that year on.  As Kimmi and Kati went up and down the block with Donnely (and older boy from our neighborhood) with pillowcases full of candy, I sat at home.

In 4th grade, I received an invitation to a Halloween party.  I showed Gary who by now was a Sophomore in High School and very creative.  He decided he would dress me as a bum.  He had me put on one of his flannel shirts and stuffed it with a pillow.  He then used some twine as a belt and had me roll up my pants to make them look like I was “waiting for a flood” as Gary like to call it.  Then for added effect, Gary put Vaseline on face and took coffee grounds and gave me a 5 o’clock shadow.  I looked amazing for this party!  Gary took the invitation and drove me to the house where the party was happening.

I ran the doorbell in anticipation of finally not being in a costume way too small and seen by everyone at Jefferson Elementary.  The door opened and the mom said “well hello”.  I said proudly, “I’m here for the Halloween Party”.  A puzzled look came over her face and she said “honey, it’s next Saturday, I’m sorry”.   I apologized profusely and as she shut the door I walked back to Gary waiting in our blue Chevy.  As I opened the door he asked “what’s wrong”?

Flatly I said, “the party is next weekend”.  I swore off Halloween in 1977.

After the debacle of dressing up on the wrong day, when I did go with Kimmi and Kati – without the escort of Gary, my step father would inspect my candy for what I thought was razor blades.  In fact, my step-father took 3/4 of the candy and said that the rest was his and was throwing it out because I “didn’t need it”.  It was clear to me there was really no point in going door to door to only receive a few tootsie rolls.  Call me greedy but when you only go to about 15 homes – 25% of your candy didn’t amount to what everyone else treated as an early Christmas gift.

With my own children, Lisa was the Halloween fanatic and tradition make.  Sure I did the prep work.  I bought the costumes for fear my kids would be recognized in a costume from a prior year or God forbid it was too small.  I bought enough candy to hand out to an army of children.  We also went to the pumpkin farm and corn maze rain or shine – always with my niece and nephew – Justine and Alex (Gary’s children).   I even carved pumpkins with amazing skill.  Beyond that, while Lisa was alive, that was the extent of my involvment.  Lisa always brought the kids to the Governor’s mansion to wait in the 2 hr line to see how the Locke’s or Gregoire’s were decked out.  I did try the first Halloween after Lisa’s passing but after waiting for 45 minutes I couldn’t stand any longer because of my MS.

Halloween is just another day on the calendar.  I don’t even buy candy, make sure the porch lights are out and put up a note that “no one is home”.  I am a “kill joy” when it comes to Halloween and now you all know why.

 

Peace

Janice

Quiet News

http://psbottomline.com/feature-2/behind-the-quiet-more-than-a-short

BEHIND THE QUIET MORE THAN A SHORT –

By PJ Maytag –

Filmmaker Lauren Fash and Producer/Actress/Writer Susan Graham heeded a call. No, not my phone call, but rather, one from a higher source on the evolutionary plane. It led to their collaboration on the powerful new short, Quiet, which Lauren directed and Susan produced/wrote, and starred in, opposite Jaclyn Betham. I’d rather not hedge your expectations by saddling it with expository spoilers – let’s just let it suffice to say this moving short explores a love story, twists of fate, and the meaning of family in a way that’ll resonate for anyone who’s ever been in love. I had the opportunity to chat with the ladies over the phone last week in preparation of it being shown at this year’s ShortFest.

TBL: Right before the credits roll, the film is dedicated to the memory of Lisa Pond. Who was she, and how did she inspire this film?

Lauren Fash: When we were coming up with the idea for Quiet we came across a story about a woman named Janice Langbehn, and she was actually denied the right to say goodbye to her partner, Lisa Pond, in the hospital in Miami in 2007. We read about the incident – basically they were on vacation with their small children and it was their 15-year anniversary. They were in Miami getting ready to leave on a cruise and Lisa collapsed. She was taken to the hospital in Miami.  When Janice went there, a social worker walked up to her and said, ‘You’re in an antigay city and you don’t have any rights here and if you don’t show me this, this and this, you’re not going to see her.’

Whoa!

LF: Yeah, So Janice said, ‘I do have those legal documents.’ She had the power or attorney and a living will; they had done everything because Janice was sick with MS. They had already gone through all these extremes that most straight couples don’t go through – you don’t think about that stuff until later in life. So they refused to let her see her. They refused to let her say goodbye. They only told her she was dying. They wouldn’t let the children in to see her or say goodbye to their mother. We read this article and we were horrified by it.

Janice actually got in touch with us right before we started filming and I talked to her for about 1½ hours. She told me the entire story. She’s the one who told me the social worker said it was an ‘antigay state.’ I tried to put it in the movie but I just couldn’t. It was so heavy-handed I wasn’t sure anybody would believe it.

So this project has morphed into much more. I see on IMDB that you are doing an actual documentary about their story now, correct?

LF: Right. So we’ve been in touch with Janice for over the past year and half. When the film was completed we flew to Washington to show her the film at her house, and we met her for the first time. We got a crew together to film Janice’s reaction to the film. I was so moved by just talking to her over the phone, and by her story and the way she told it and I just felt we needed to share it with people. We literally had her look into the camera and tell her story and we’ve made it into a short documentary.

We’re making a feature version of Quiet, as well.

OK, I was going to ask, because it seems like so many Shorts these days are shopping them to make a feature.

LF: A lot of filmmakers do this, it’s kind of like insurance. It’s like, ‘Hey, this is what I can do, this is my potential and the potential of the story.’ And that’s what we did with Quiet. As our relationship with Janice evolved and the project evolved, we realized the most powerful thing in Quiet was Janice herself. Quiet [the film at ShortFest] was inspired by her story, so it was fictional characters.

In the feature we’ve decided to tell her story and literally cast her and Lisa and their children as well. I mean these women were saints, you know? I think anyone watching this movie cannot argue the fact that what happened to them was wrong and this needs to change. It’s wrong in our country and it’s time to make it right.

Susan, how did you get involved in this?

Susan Graham: I worked on a couple of things [with Lauren] before and I think Lauren mentioned the article about Lisa. I always knew that I wanted to do a short film about patient medical rights in some way, because I thought it was powerful. I’m familiar with medicine in general coming from a medical family and I thought her story was so heartbreaking. At the time, I didn’t want to stick to it too exact because – our different artistic rights, and we were trying to do something a little different with this short film. But through time and getting to know Janice we want to do that for the feature.

And, in looking to create the short film I just wanted to have the best story teller I could, so I got with Lauren and we teamed up and co-wrote the short and co-produced it and she directed it and I’m in it.

In Quiet, the feature length film, you said it is actually going to be Janice’s story?

LF: Yes. It’ll basically be, the film will be about their relationship and also showcase that event so people can see who this happened to. [They were] not just your everyday couple. They literally raised 25 foster children – most of whom were either disabled or HIV positive. They legally adopted four children. Their first son suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome. They are just lovely, caring people and for this to happen to them, of all people, it’s just heartbreaking!

Do you think with the feature film you are looking for a broader audience? I think there are a lot of people in the heterosexual community that don’t even realize these civil rights are being denied.

LF: This is going to educate people on a subject that a lot of people know nothing about. You know, there’s this argument going on around the country about gay marriage and well, “it’s a sacred act” and all that. At the heart of it, it’s a human right, and this film showcases the importance of having the same rights so everyone is protected.

You are bringing up the fact that we, as a society, have to look at a broader definition of “family.” How do you think this film is going to start that dialog?

SG: I think that’s a great question, we haven’t been asked that. One of things we focused on in the short film is we really wanted to show how for a lot of young people, (but for especially the homosexual community), our friends, our family, our families have not accepted them. But I think Janice and Lisa created a family in a nontraditional way – but it didn’t make them any less their kids, or their mothers.

I think it’s a really beautiful, wonderful and important story that everyone can identify with. We all relate to the themes of love and loss. And that’s why this film isn’t just for the LGBT community. It’s for people who may have not thought about this issue, in that way. A personal connection with something that changes your mind. And for Janice and Lisa there’s no way to get around the fact that there was a huge, huge injustice.

If You Go –

Quiet is part of the “Love, Lust and Other L Words” Program, Sunday , June 24th at 3 pm, at Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs.