DEAR ABBY: You mentioned in a recent column that few people write to follow up on what happened since their original letter was published. You printed mine April 1, 2001.
I am "Hurting in Houston," the son who, with his partner, was suddenly no longer welcome in his parents' home after they moved to a retirement community, because they were afraid their neighbors would shun them if they discovered they had a gay son. You advised that I should live my own life and, maybe, someday they would come around -- and that is what I did.
After a number of years, I received a call from a sibling informing me that my father was ill with only a short time left, and I should fly to their city to see him. I asked if I was wanted, and he said, "It doesn't matter, just come!" So I swallowed my pride, flew there and made my way to the hospice house.
Although my mother received me well, Dad did not, and we never had a good moment before he died a few days later. I told my mother I was staying for the funeral whether she liked it or not and had my partner fly in.
After the service there was a gathering at my mother's house with all their friends. I introduced my partner to them and everyone was as kind as could be. Many mentioned their own gay siblings or relatives.
When the event was over, my mother said, "Wow, this has all been pretty silly, hasn't it?" It was such a colossal understatement that I could not find words to respond.
Ten years have passed; my mother is now in hospice care with only a short time left. We have built a great relationship, and she loves my partner of more than 20 years very much. We are glad to be able to be there for her.
Much has changed in the world over these years and the acceptance of gays has been remarkable, but for me, having these last years with my mother's love will be a comfort I can hold onto for the rest of my life.
I have no great moral here, I just wanted to let you know what has happened. Thank you, Abby. -- NO LONGER "HURTING IN HOUSTON"
DEAR NO LONGER HURTING: And thank you for letting me and my readers know your story has a happy ending. I couldn't be more pleased to know you are doing well.
In case you didn't see it, there was a follow-up column regarding your letter that was published May 24, 2001, in which a family in California offered to adopt you and your partner! PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) was mentioned in that follow-up and is still an excellent resource for building bridges of understanding in families. Find it at pflag.org.
DEAR ABBY: I am the caregiver for my husband, who is in a wheelchair and has to be helped when using the bathroom. When we are out in public and he needs a bathroom, should I use the handicapped stall in the men's or take him into the women's? Unisex restrooms -- one big room that can be locked -- are wonderful. -- CAREGIVER IN VIRGINIA
DEAR CAREGIVER: I agree, but not all buildings and businesses provide unisex restrooms. If none is available, then the rule of thumb is the disabled person should use the restroom of his/her gender -- in your case, the men's room.
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