Mary was sitting on her sun porch, enjoying the lovely Sunday morning. It looked like it was going to be another postcard day in Florida. She was enjoying her morning coffee and reading the Palm Beach Post when the tranquility was broken by the sound of her granddaughter’s yelling.
“Grandma, Grandma, where are you?” Julie Preston yelled from the house.
“On the sun porch, dear, trying to get some peace and quiet. What is all the fuss young lady?” Mary announced slightly annoyed with her oldest grandchild’s yelling. Julie entered the sun porch holding an iPad and looking very flushed.
“Jenny’s in the newspaper.” Julie yelled.
“Julie Michelle Preston. I may be old, but I am not deaf. Calm yourself. Now what did you say about Jennifer?” Mary asked.
“Jenny and Alexa are in the StarTribune! There’s an article about Alexa’s transitioning.” Julie explained to her grandmother as she handed over the iPad.
While Mary was 85 years old, she was one of the few of her age group that had learned to use electronic devices. She took the offered iPad and began reading the article detailing not only the pending law suit, but also detailing Alexa’s transition as well as Jenny’s involvement and support. A smile spread across the octogenarian’s face as she continued to read. Mary loved all her grandchildren, but Jenny was special and the strength she and her partner Alexa had shown was incredible. Bart Hamilton had told her the interviews went well, but this was even better than his report. Mary called out to her older granddaughter.
“Julie, can you get Jennifer on the phone for me?”
Meanwhile 1700 miles away, Mary’s son and Jenny’s father Marty was just settling in with the Sunday morning StarTribune. Sunday was the one day when Marty liked to relax and do nothing. He usually read two to three newspapers and tried to enjoy a normal day away from the craziness that was his life. He opened the front page and an article caught his attention “A Fight for Transgender Rights”. The issue of transgender rights had become a major issue in his family as of late. His daughter Jennifer had begun dating a young man who was in the process of transitioning from a man to a woman. Last night, for the first time he met the young woman. He had met the young man a few times and had found him decent enough, but last night he met a confident woman who was willing to stand her ground and not be beaten by the verbal assault conducted by his wife. His wife, what a pain in the ass she has turned into over the last few years. She seemed to be drunk more than she was sober these days and her actions last night were reprehensible. He was completely taken aback by her attitude and actions towards Alexa. Something had to be done. The time had come.
And what about Jenny? She did not sit idly by as Marilyn belittled her, partner? was that the right word to use? Jenny stood up to her mother and told her to deal with it. It was quite impressive to watch. She had really grown into a very mature young woman and last night’s events were more proof of that. Not only that, but she was in love. Marty might not completely understand what is going on but he could see it the looks Jenny and Alexa shared. And it wasn’t some infatuation or lust. It was pure love for one another. He still didn’t understand it all but he had the feeling he was going to have to.
As he was reading the article, continuing to be impressed by this young woman his mother had taken a shine to, his wife came stumbling down stairs. To be blunt, she looked like hell. The effects of too much alcohol the previous night was quite evident as Marilyn slowly shuffled along. And one thing the hangover did not erase was her attitude from the night before. “Good morning” Marty greeted his wife is a neutral way. All he got in return was a grunt as Marilyn made her way to the kitchen. Marty returned to the article and continued to be marveled at the poise Alexa displayed throughout the interview. Sure, newspaper writers took some liberties when putting these stories together, but these were direct quotes. The writer would come under fire if they were used wrong. And then there was Jenny. She came off just like she had the night before, strong, confident and in love with Alexa. To witness it was one thing, but to see it come across in a newspaper article convinced Marty even more that while he was still unsure about the whole thing, he had to make every effort to make Alexa feel accepted by this family.
Marilyn returned with a cup of coffee and a cold compress for her head. She threw herself on the couch and groaned. “You should read this article.” Marty told his wife, “Jennifer and Alexa come off very well. Very strong and confident women those two.” The groan from Marilyn soon turned into a growl.
“That is not a woman! That is some fairy posing as a woman trying to suck our daughter in! Are you blind or something Marty! Plus, why are you so full of praise today for Jenny after the way she talked to me last night! I don’t care if I ever hear from that little brat again!”
The final straw had been laid on the camel’s back. Marty was mad. As mad as he had ever been in his life. With all the self-restraint he could muster, he placed his coffee mug on the table along with the newspaper. Using every ounce of will power he had left he looked at his wife and stated ‘Marilyn, we need to talk”
At roughly the same time, Barb Fahey was just getting out of bed. The years had not been kind to her and either had the lifestyle she had led. But after her run-in with Dick Quinn after Christmas, things had begun to change for the 43 year-old woman. She had cut back on the drinking and had really worked at quitting smoking. The drinking had been easy, the smoking had been hard. But she was feeling better about her self both physically and mentally. One of the things that had manifested itself is she was getting up earlier and earlier, so here she was on this cold Sunday morning reading the newspaper on-line. Katie had called her yesterday and told her about the article on Alexa. Barb had looked forward to it immensely. As she read the article a sense of victory flashed over her. Alex, she meant Alexa, came off great. She had always been a good kid and had always stuck by Katie. When Katie got pregnant and refused to have an abortion, it was Alex who stood by her when nobody else would. Sometimes even Barb herself tried to put some distance between her daughter and her self. At that time, she was only 37 and did not want to be a grandmother. It had been a huge mistake she realized and scrambled to try and make it up to Katie. And the whole time there was Alex standing by her side, helping in whatever way a 16-year-old boy could help.
With that background, a sense of pride came over Barb. A few weeks ago, when she had finally met Alexa she was impressed. She wasn’t sure what she would find, but it was still the same kid. Still needling Katie, still arguing with her and still caring for her. She had said it then and after reading the article the thought had not changed. If she ever had another daughter, she would have been proud if she was just like Alexa. If only Dick-less and Charlotte would feel that way.
It was another typical Sunday morning at the Quinn’s. If the Quinn’s were anything, it was routine. Dick and Char had gone to 5 PM mass the night before, followed by supper at Lefty’s Lakeside Grille. As they had the week before that, and the week before that. In fact, they had followed this routine forever. Dick was one who wanted things a certain way and he reveled in routine. Charlotte always wanted something a little more, but there was a fat chance of that. The dinner, along with the rest of the home life had seemed strained the last few weeks. Charlotte was still upset about the washing machine and dryer for a Christmas present, but that wasn’t it. The divide between her and Dick had grown deeper after the discovery of their youngest child. Charlotte hurt from her husband’s rejection of Alex, now Alexa, as she had learned. Dick wanted nothing to do with a son who wanted to be a woman. Charlotte however felt the pangs of motherhood and had tried to reach out to her youngest, only to be rejected. And the fact that she had gone behind her husband’s back to attempt a reconciliation had only made the situation harder.
So there the Quinn’s were on Sunday morning. As usual, Charlotte had gone out to get the Sunday morning paper from the mailbox at the end of the driveway. It was -6 Fahrenheit but there was no way Dick would ever get it. She had started the coffee pot before she had gone out to make sure that it would be ready when she returned. She didn’t dare bother opening the paper until she had delivered it to Dick along with his morning coffee. And the routine continued. Dick pulled the sports section from the paper, took has coffee from Charlotte and pushed the recliner back. Not even a ‘Thank You’ from Dick, just silence. Charlotte took the front page of the paper and settled on to the couch with her coffee. She pursued the front page and it was the story on the lower right corner of the page that caught her attention, “A Fight for Transgender Rights”. It was the first two words of the paragraph that really pulled her in “Alexa Quinn’ she gasped as she eagerly read the article of Alexa and her fight with her employers and the love she shared with Jenny. It was when Alexa began speaking about her relationship with her parents that she began to openly weep. She hadn’t rejected her youngest she knew in her heart, she was just confused! It was the asshole in the recliner that had rejected her! She looked at the photo that accompanied the article on the inside and took in the image of her daughter for the first time. She was a beautiful young woman and even through the blurriness of the black and white newsprint, she could see the happiness. Her heart hurt.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Dick asked as he looked over at his wife crying on the couch as she read the newspaper.
Charlotte stood up and walked over to Dick. Thrusting the newspaper in his face. ‘This. This is what’s the matter. Our daughter is in the newspaper. Our daughter is hurting because she is being harassed. Our daughter is saying we have abonded her.
Dick briefly glanced at the newspaper before stating. “We do not have a daughter. We have two sons. That’s it.”
For the first time in Thirty plus years Charlotte defied her husband and spoke up. “Bull shit. We have three children, one who happens to be transsexual. You just want to deny it because you think it will prove that you are less than ‘manly’ if you accept it!” Charlotte screamed at her husband as she used the air quotes hand gesture around the word manly. Dick was incensed. How could this woman speak to him that way! He stood up with fire in his eyes.
“We have two sons, that’s it!” He yelled back. He turns and pulls the school picture of Alex taken back in sixth grade off of the wall. He shows the picture to his wife. “We once had a son named Alex but he rejected us, not the other way around. He no longer exists.” With that he smashed the framed picture on the floor. Glass flew everywhere.
“Why?” Charlotte asked her husband. ‘Why is it so hard for you to accept? He has always been different than you, is that it. You have never cared for him and you have completely abandoned him, at a time when she needs us!”
The fury Dick was feeling continued to build. He did not want to spend all day listening to his wife go on. “I don’t need this shit right now. I ‘m leaving.” He stormed past his wife. He grabbed his coat and cap and headed out to his truck. He started up the truck and tore out of the driveway. Charlotte slumped back into the couch and continued to cry. She looked at the picture of a smiling Alexa again. She had a daughter, she thought to herself again. A beautiful daughter. The smile Alexa had brought a smile to Charlotte’s face as well. “Fuck that bastard” she thought. “We have a daughter. I have to find a way to bring her back.”
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