God's Special Angels
A TRUE Story by Haylee V. (C) 2017
Well, it's taken me about two weeks, but I finally have gotten settled in to my new group home and have tried (somewhat successfully) to befriend my fellow residents. One resident in particular was especially impressed with me--Jason.
Jason lives in the basement, and has had a pretty rough life. Compounding that fact is that Jason is very openly gay--in a house mostly full of older homophobic men. When he first revealed this fact to me, I looked him square in the eye and said, "That's AWESOME, dude. I didn't think I'd meet another of God's Special Angels so soon."
He looked at me rather strangely, so I sat down on his bed and began to explain.
It all started when my daughter was about five years old. My first wife and I had moved to Hagerstown, Maryland so she could be nearer to her father. We both managed to find rather high-paying jobs--her at Citibank, and me at First Data. It was there that I first met Richard Horchner. He was different from most people. He was open and honest, and way too much of a party-boy. He was also, in his own words, a "Flaming Faggot". He'd always tell us that only HE could say that, because that was what he was. But if WE EVER called him that, it was a trip to "HR,, Buddy".
Well, I didn't have a car at the time, and Rich, I discovered, lived right up the street from me. It was about two weeks after we met that he offered to carpool with me, if I'd give him a little gas money each week. I figured what the hell? A cab was $10 one way,, and $20 a week's a helluva lot cheaper than $100. Besides, being a partier (and gay), he was up on all the latest music, culture, and fashion.
Well, one day, we had to work late, and ended up getting off long after the on-site cafeteria had closed for the night. I invited Rich to my place for dinner, but first we had to stop at Wal-Mart to pick up a few things. I told him about Grace, my daughter, and about how incredibly shy she was, giving him warning that she may be "skittish" around him. He said that was OK--that he always wished he could have a child, as he was pretty good with them. ("It's because I act their age, I guess..." he quipped. Who was I to argue?) He excused himself once we entered the store. "I need to get something," he said mysteriously.
Joanna ALWAYS cooked like she was trying to feed an army, so adding one more at the table was no problem. I had already explained that he was gay, so she wouldn't be surprised by his flamboyance. Fortunately, her dad (and his tart of the week) were out. He was a bigoted SOB who hated anything non-straight, white American with a passion.
Well, Grace had just taken her bath, and was in her PJs. She heard me talking in the kitchen, and came running out to give me a hug, as she always did when I got home.
When Richard saw her, he bent down to her level and said, "Hi, Princess. What's your name?"
I told her it was OK, and she whispered quietly, "Grace."
"That's a pretty name, for a VERY pretty girl. Can I ask you a favor, though, Princess Grace?"
She laughed at being called a Princess. She was warming up to him quickly, and said, more vocally this time, "OK, I guess."
He reached behind his back and pulled out the Wal-Mart bag. He reached inside and pulled out a small black and white stuffed cat.
"My name's Richard, and I have a friend here that needs a home. Can he stay with you? I can't have pets where I live--even stuffed ones."
She reached gingerly for the toy, as a smile spread across her face. "For me?" she asked. "To keep?"
"She reached up and hugged him. "Thank you, Mr. Rich. I'll name him Kitty Pepper, because he looks like pepper."
After that, it was like she had found her soulmate. She'd always ask me when Mr. Rich was coming over. He had her hooked. Thinking back, I think he was actually her first crush. She still sleeps nightly with Kitty Pepper, 20 years, 2 missing eyes, and a helluva lot of stuffing later.
About two weeks later, I came home after my long week to find Grace sitting in her room, crying. When I asked her why, she just said, "Mr. Rich doesn't love me any more."
When I asked her why, she explained. "Mommy says he CAN'T love me, because I'm a GIRL, and Mr. Rich is GAY! Is that true, Daddy?"
I was taken aback by that last statement. How in the hell was I going to tell a six-year-old that her crush was, in fact, gay--just as her mom had said?
I hesitated. Just then, she hit me with the question I knew was coming--and dreading.
"Daddy, what does Gay mean? Is it some kind of sickie? I got the chicken poops, but I got better. maybe Mr. Rich will get better and not be gay. Right Daddy?"
I needed to get away to think--quickly. I used the old tried and true.
"Honey, Daddy needs to go potty right now. When I get back, we'll talk, okay?"
I quickly dashed for the fortress of solitude, and locked the door behind me. I was a complete bundle of nerves. A part of me was REALLY PISSED at Joanna--she was WAY over the line. A part of me was confused. How do you explain something as complex as human sexuality to a SIX-YEAR-OLD, in a manner they can actually UNDERSTAND? And part of me was very, very deeply hurt. I knew that, regardless of what I said, I'd be destroying a part of Grace's innocence today.
Now, I'm not much of a praying man, but I prayed harder in those brief fifteen minutes than I ever had at any other point in my life! "Lord, please grant me the wisdom--and the words--I need to explain this in a positive manner to Grace, without making her hate either her mom, Rich, or me."
After a short time, I felt a Divine peace flood through me. I knew it was time to "face the music", and explain to my sweet, innocent child one of man's greatest shortcomings--hatred and bigotry.
I walked into her room. Grace was still sitting on her bed, silently sniffling, and clutching her one security blanket--Kitty Pepper--as if her life depended solely on his presence. I slowly began.
"Grace, Hon. Mr. Rich isn't sick. Being gay is nothing a doctor can fix. It's not a bad thing. It just means he's different. And that difference makes him special."
"You remember when you went to church, and your teacher told you how God made everything? How he mand men and women?"
"Well, God had everything planned out a long time ago. Most men fall in lve with women, and most women fall in lve with men. You know that, right?"
"Well, just to be different, God made some men and women very special. Some men only fall in love with other men, and some women only love other women. These are God's Special Angels. It's NOT a bad thing. Every now and then, God will send one of these Special Angels into our lives, to make us better people. Mr. Rich is one of those Special Angels."
"So he can't love me because he wasn't made that way? He's really an Angel?"
"Grace, when an Angel, like Mr. Rich tells you that you'll always be his Special Little Princess, he means it. You know that Angels can NEVER tell lies."
"Okay, Daddy. That makes me feel better. Mr, Ric is MY angel, and he'll always look after me, right?"
"That's right, Sweetheart," I said giving her a huge hug-- a hug BOTH she and I needed at that moment.
As I finished my explanation, I saw tears well up in Jason's eyes. "THAT. WAS. BEAUTIFUL!!!" he exclaimed. I decided to leave him alone with his thoughts. A REAL MAN doesn't interfere with another man's crying time.
P.S.: I made Grace make me a promise that day: "Whenever you meet one of these Special Angels, treat them with respect and kindness. Occasionally, she'll still call me up to tell me about an "Angel" she's met.
P.P.S.: Unfortunately, Rich's ways eventually caught up to him. He passed a few years ago, due to an AIDS-related illness. I still miss him--and how he taught me to be more accepting of the PERSON, not the PERSONA.
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