#tb 5 years ago…

Bradford Ramon Antonio, age 11

brad 2011

There he sleeps, that child of mine. I’m sure he’s dreaming about all the things he wants to do in his young life. His innocent life. His right-now life.

Sunrise to sunset, that kid is on-the-go either physically, or mentally, or (of course) both those things at once.

The minute he hops out of bed, he puts on his favorite baseball cap. Angels! At the same time his feet begin to shuffle. Swish! He slides his left foot across the wooden floor, kicking it straight out in front of him. While that foot dangles in the air he quickly raises his knee, and just as quick he stomps that foot back down. The other foot takes its turn and begins to also stamp. Now both feet are shuffling back and forth. He spins his body, grabs the brim of his cap and twirls it backward, then forward again in a rapid, smoothly-planned motion. His whole body is moving. His feet are gliding, stamping, and being raised high off the ground. The techno music in his head eventually stops, so then does his dancing.

He settles on the couch, waiting for a hot cup of tea. While he waits, his fingers, all ten of them, begin to intertwine. His hands move as if they are dancing. A hand dance. His arms shoot out as his hands continue to twirl, round and round. His arms twist around each other, like slithering snakes; his fingers continue to lace loosely together, then apart, and his arms maintain their own motions, to ensure that the fluidity of the dance is just right. The hand ballet stops when he reaches for the sugar-and-milk-filled cup of tea.

He’s a DJ. He uses the computer to spin a record, to jumble the original music in an interesting way. He adds voice overtones to create definition, character to the song. The techno music adds a certain flavor to the whole effect. He works it, over and over, in various ways. Both his hands are moving rapidly, spinning up, spinning down, spinning to the right, spinning to the left. Then his feet begin to shuffle. All his skills are joined together into one fantastic show. His motions don’t stop until the music does yet, his heart still sings. He knows his skills are working, working the crowd. He knows because they all scream for more.

So sleep well, my son, sleep well. Dream your dreams. Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is another day you can move. Another day to perfect your real-life ambitions.

california weather = arkansas heat

brad AR 2012

today, on this stagnant CA day, a day weighed down by extreme heat

i was reminded of 2012

when brad and i took a walk, on a stagnant arkansas day, a day weighed down by extreme heat

when we were

red faced and sweating

trotting along, in plus 100 degrees, hiking up a trail, trudging down again

profile profile

brad

A
profile
x-ray
of
Brad’s
teeth
also
captured
a
portion
of
his
skull
and
spinal
column.
*
Very
interesting,
and
rather
funny,
is
that
his
skin
covered
profile
pokes
out
from
behind
all
that
bone.

I am the Mother of a Gay Son

rainbow flagI heard my 7 year old child quietly crying. Roberto was wiping the tears from watery eyes. I wondered if I should say something. “Give him a minute,” I told myself. “Let him have a moment. Everyone needs a moment to work through their grief.”

As his breathing slowed and tears were blotted dry, I asked Roberto, a sweet innocent person, “Are you okay? You seem very sad.” Deep breaths, interrupted with quick short sniffles. “Heave-ho,” his chest physically vibrated.
“Some kids said I was gay.”
“Gay? Doesn’t gay mean happy?” I asked, allowing him to control the conversation.
“Yes, I think so, but… they meant boys-like-boys, girls-like-girls gay.”
“Why did they say that to you, why do you think?” I wondered.
“I don’t know. One of them said that the color of my eyes were not like theirs so I must be gay.”
The adult in me simply said, “They are just uneducated, uninformed”. The feeling miffed person said, “Ignore them.”

Gaily, life went on. Mostly, Roberto enjoyed happy days, with many days trying to figure out what life means – only in a way a young child is capable of.

___

I heard my 12 year old quietly crying. Roberto, almost a teen, was wiping the tears from watery eyes. I wondered if I should say something. “Give him a minute,” I told myself. “Let him have a moment. Everyone needs a moment to work through their grief.”

As his breathing slowed and tears were blotted dry, I asked Roberto, not so small, not quite a grown person, “Are you okay? You seem very sad.” Deep breaths, interrupted with quick short sniffles. “Heave-ho,” his chest physically vibrated.
“Some kids said I was gay.”
Why did they say that to you, why do you think?” I wondered.
“I don’t know. Some of the kids think I am different. One day someone is my friend, the next day they don’t talk to me”.
“How does that make you feel?,” I questioned.
“I feel bad. I just want a friend I can trust, be myself with.”
The adult in me simply said, “Just be patient. Somewhere, a friend is waiting in the wings“. The feeling miffed person said, “Ignore them.”

Gaily, life went on. Mostly, Roberto enjoyed happy days, with many days trying to figure out what life means – only in a way a preteen is capable of.

___

I heard my 17 year old quietly crying. Roberto was wiping the tears from watery eyes. I wondered if I should say something. “Give him a minute,” I told myself. “Let him have a moment. Everyone needs a moment to work through their grief.”

As his breathing slowed and tears were blotted dry, I asked Roberto, close to being an adult, “Are you okay? You seem very sad.” Deep breaths, interrupted with quick short sniffles. “Heave-ho,” his chest physically vibrated.

“I don’t want to ruin the dynamics of a nuclear family. I don’t want to disappoint anyone,” Roberto emotionally forced the words out of rather strong vocal cords.
“Why do you say that?” I soothingly asked, already knowing the answer.
“I am gay,” he stated, voice quivering. He fell to the floor, emotionally overwhelmed.
I knelt next to Roberto, told him to always be true, true to who he is.

Gaily, life went on. Mostly, Roberto enjoyed happy days, with many days trying to figure out what life means – only in a way a close to being an adult teen is capable of.

____

I heard my adult son, laughing happily, content with who he is. Knowing his family supports him no matter what, a family who doesn’t judge him based on who he chooses as a partner, but rather a family who embraces his warmth, his kindness, his love, and his life, without conditions.

A boy.

brad at newport 2012

A boy.
Stood.
Looking out to sea.
Wondering.
If.
He’d ever go back in.
Into the water.

He wants to.
But.
He’s scared.
Because.
When he was younger.
The ocean tried to swallow him up.
When he was just playing.
Splashing in the waves.

That boy.
Was pulled under.
Tossed around.
Until finally.
He was spit back out.
By the teasing sea.

Since then.
The boy will not even allow.
The foaming waves.
To lap his toes.
Not at all.

Not yet.

A Boy and a Wad of Wet Paper Towels in the School Bathroom

Brad joyfully squeezed the soaking wet paper towel, after he yanked it out from under the rushing water. In just a moment, that ball of slop would be splatted against a bland-colored wall in the boys’ bathroom. Oh the joy of doing something so fun, with three other boys. Boys who didn’t follow the rules. Bored boys spending their recess in the restroom, messing up the place.

Splat! Two wads flattened and spit water, side-by-side, midway down the eggshell sheen. Cheers all around. The next wad was aimed up, thrown at the semi-high ceiling. Thud! Perfect shot. A few droplets fell back to the floor. But those boys didn’t care. They just stood there, amazed at how easy it was to make a wads of wet paper towels stick. Stick and stay put.

The mirror received a Wham! Then another. Both slowly sliding down, into the sink. Then Brad threw the final ball of goo. Which clung to the mirror. Water oozed, distorting their reflection. So Cool! Artists. That’s what they were. So they thought. They left the facility with proud smiles on their faces.

Days passed. Dried wads were peeled away. A few weeks later, the janitor had complained that the situation was getting out of hand. It seemed the wads of wet paper towels had become some kind of ritual. Some kind of overdone game. A kid was questioned. Accused of the crime. He said, “It wasn’t me. It was him!”

“You! Here! Now!” yelled the custodian, tired of cleaning the stupidity of kids. Brad walked slowly toward the angry adult. A bit teary-eyed. Sort of scared. On that day, he was dressed so nicely. Had worn all black and even put on a tie, which made him look super cool. And handsome. Different from all the other second graders. He knew he was guilty, just not on that day.

The day he and those other rule-breakers made the mess, no one noticed, or at least didn’t seem to care much. Other boys made the new mess. But he didn’t say anything. He took one for the team. He deserved it. He was punished. Had to collect trash. Beautify the school during his lunch recess.

A Boy, A Girl, Their Aunt, and Some Barf

The phone rang. My mom answered. All I could hear was my mom’s  side of the conversation. She said, “Uh-huh…Yeah… Oh, sure.. When?… Alright… Ok… They’ll love that!” Then she hung up. Aunt Marge had asked my mom if my brother Andy and I, ages 10 and 13, respectively, could take the train down, to visit her and my uncle for several days.

Aunt Marge and Uncle Bill lived in a gated apartment building, in a small, but elegant living space. The fridge was full and the TV was turned on. One night they had plans with friends. Not us.

“Kids, Uncle Bill and I are going out tonight for a few hours. Will you be alright on your own?” our aunt asked.
“Yes,” we both answered, politely.

As the front door closed behind them, Andy and I immediately started antagonizing each other. We knew each others weaknesses. Scary stories and scary movies. We told each other gruesome tales and watched even more frightening thrillers. Suddenly, and I am not sure why it happened, Andy felt sick. Maybe it was because we just told too many, over the top, could be real life stories, or simply because we overate all the junk food we could get our hands on.

“I think I am going to barf!” Andy choked out.
“Hurry! Go. Go into the bathroom!” I demanded.

He threw up, that’s for sure, but not directly into the toilet bowl. His aim was awful. Vomit was everywhere. On the seat, on the floor, on the lovely bath mat.

“Ugh! I feel gross!” Andy moaned, his face cherry red. His eyes teary.
“Ewwww!” I responded with the only vocabulary I could think of.

Then I walked him to the couch, sat him down, covered him with a blanket, switched the channel to a comedy with the laugh track on full blast, and plopped myself onto the opposite end of the sofa. An hour had passed when I heard a key jiggling in the lock.

“Hello. We’re home!” Aunt Marge exclaimed.
“Oh, hi,” I said. “Andy got sick. He threw up.”
“Are you okay?” she seemed concerned, walked over to him. Felt his forehead.
“Yeah. Daphne was telling me scary stories. I guess they literally made me sick!”

I laughed, doubled over, cracking up, admiring my little bro’s sense of humor.

Aunt Marge walked into the bathroom. “What the ____?!” Well, she didn’t really say a bad word, but she said something with an angry tone.

“Why didn’t you clean this up?!” She was staring straight at me. The older kid. The one who should have known better. The one who should have known to scrub away all the bits and pieces of Andy’s regurgitated food. The one who should have understood the value of cleaning up before the owners of the pristine apartment returned home after a fun night out. Without a word I shrugged my shoulders, opened my eyes wide, and pinched my lips together. I had nothing to say.

Later – minutes? hours? days? – after Andy and I had returned home, Aunt Marge called the house, talked to my mom. All I could hear was my mom’s side of the conversation. “Uh-huh… Yeah… Oh… Alright… OK… I will tell them…”

“Aunt Marge says she thinks you are a brat,” she told me. “And that you lack common sense.”
“Really?” I was actually surprised, and hurt, because never in my life had I been referred to as a brat. I sighed, felt tears pooling against my lower lids. I told my side of the story.
“Being a brat doesn’t sound like you at all, but I do understand Aunt Marge’s point of view,” my mom stated. “Sadly, she says no more visits for the two of you. None.That’s it. Done.”

Andy and I lowered our heads, ashamed. We felt dumb. But then we looked at each other and tried not to laugh. But, laughter ruled. And, thus, we let loose.