He says that he has changed so much since we got together, his own family wouldn’t recognize him. My family says they have never seen me happier as when we first got together. His older brother once told him if he ever saw him come around with one of his boyfriends, he would shoot us both. Thom hadn’t seen his older brother for 25 years. I got to see their reunion and watch them hug each other when they finally met again, in the middle of a Wal-Mart parking lot. And the brother likes me, too and didn’t try to shoot either one of us. I like him and his whole family. They live in a tiny home and don’t have a lot of money, but the house is just full of love. He has three sons who served on missions. We wrote to one of them while he was in Arizona. The last one is now in Arizona as well, but we are a little hesitant to write to him for fear of getting him in trouble with the mission authorities for corresponding with two gay men. We never try to force ourselves on anybody.
Nobody says you have to like everybody or that everybody has to like you. But we find we get wonderful acceptance from most people. They are comfortable around us because we are comfortable around each other. They respect us as a couple because we respect their family and their traditions.
People who think they know me don’t really understand me until they see us together. They have to see the whole picture. We don’t think of ourselves as individuals any more. We always think in terms of “we”. The only disagreements we ever had, both of them, were caused by somebody coming in from the outside and trying to meddle.
Thom always carries more than his share of the load. He did that for his family as well, but they never appreciated it. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work from home much of the time, which means we are together 24 hours a day. We have never gotten bored with each other in all that time. We always have some lively discussions. I often wish we could record them and put them on the internet. We usually discuss thing from a perspective that nobody has thought of before.
I have received the spiritual confirmation many times that we belong together, and that our true strength lies in remaining together. Whenever, I think of him, even casually, it’s like all the confirmations of the Spirit that I have even received in my life, rolled up into one. Does God approve of me being attracted to men. I don’t know, and frankly, I don’t care. I know He approves of me being attracted to this man, and that’s all that counts.
As a family, we have big plans ahead. In September, Thom and I are going out to California to get married, now that it is finally legal again. It’s ironic that the same church that came in from outside the state and tried to sway the election that enacted an unconstitutional measure, now sees two of its own former missionaries receive the rights they waited so long to achieve, that the church tried so hard to block. And the families that the church tried to divide over this issue, instead coming together, as they have done. We have announced our plans to both families, and so far, we have received nothing but love and support, with several members of both families planning to attend.
One thing I miss about my late dad is his flair for publicity. He was a master of getting all our names in the newspaper at one time or another. For this wedding, he would have made this a huge deal — two ex-Mormon missionaries, ex temple marriage holders, but from different parts of the church — one coming from an old-line, seventh generation Mormon family with roots back to Palmyra, and the other coming from a part-member family of immigrant converts and a mix of nearly every American religion, defying the nay-sayers and creating a stable relationship going on 27 years.
All my children are gathering in Seattle, WA for Christmas this year. All my kids and their families are going to be there, even the ones from Utah, who seldom leave the state. We could have gotten married in Washington, but the focus of the reunion is to introduce cousins who have never met. I have three grand-sons and six grand-daughters. They need to get to know each other, the way we experienced it as children.
Next April is my mother’s 90th birthday party. All my brothers and their families will be there. Thom will be there. As the oldest, they keep calling me the “patriarch of the family”, and they have adopted Thom as an “honorary Crane brother”. What more could you ask?
And, now we come full circle. I remember fondly having family get-togethers in that little house in White Salmon at Christmas, Thanksgiving, and July 4. I would like to create a modern-day version of that little house that all my children and grand-children could call home base, as long as they don’t mind having two grandpa’s.