“Her name was Honey Murray. You were named after her.” Daddy hands me the photo. “She was different. As she grew up, she felt it more and more. While other girls fantasized about Elvis, or the boy down the road, she found herself having thoughts, about…other girls. Puberty was a horrible time. She hated watching her breasts grow; she used to tie a strap around them, trying to hide them. It was a different time. Homosexuality was a crime. At sixteen she ran away to the city.
She got a job, and after a couple of years she met your mother. They worked in the same hotel. Your mother was on reception, while Honey worked in the bar. They became friends and decided to get a flat together. Finally, one day, Honey confided in your Mother. She was astounded at your Mother’s reaction. She said she’d already figured it out.”
As he speaks I look at the photo in my hands. I wish I’d known the woman Mother was then.
“Are you sure we’re talking about the same woman?”
“I imagine it’s hard to believe, but your Mother wasn’t always so…your Mother.”
“How do you know all this?”
“Because…” But I already know what he’s going to say. Staring out at me from the photo are those beautiful greenstone eyes. The hair’s longer, and the features softer, but I realise why I’d always thought I was missing something that was right there. “Honey was me.”
“You’re a woman?” Could this get any weirder?
“On paper. Yes.”
“This is not…what I expected…coming here. A woman? Really? And Mother, Mother was a…my Mother. Really?” I was beginning to feel like the ice cube again.
“Honey, are you okay?” He sounds worried.
“No. No, I don’t think I am. But I think – before I run screaming from this house – you better…tell me the rest.”
“I was in love with your mother, and unbelievably, she felt the same. We had to be careful, being against the law, and socially, well…we kept it secret. It was harder for her, she was raised Catholic. In the beginning, I think that was part of the attraction. As it went on, she started having doubts, damn Catholic guilt. Then she wanted a baby.”
“Oh, right, your brother.”
“The rest of your family, do they know?’
“I don’t know, maybe. They disowned me when I told them what I was feeling.”
“But you look like…”
“A man? I am in all the ways that count. I just wasn’t born that way.”
“Hormones? Really? Even then?”
“Loving me went against everything your mother knew. She tried, but when she started having doubts, that’s when I decided to get treatment. There was a trial. A doctor in Switzerland. I applied, got accepted. I thought if I looked like a man, we could make it work. Honestly, I wanted it too. I’d never had a typical girlie figure, but when things started changing, for the first time…I felt right. That’s the only way to explain it.
Once I looked the part, we moved. Started again, where no-one knew us. It wasn’t enough though. I loved your mother, but she was dying of guilt because of what we were. And I started dying as well.”
“Hormones. Did all this?” Wow. “You still take them?”
“Hormones did a lot, and yes. But there are other things you can do.”
“Other things?” He looks like he is about to answer so I shake my head. I’m not ready for that conversation just yet. “If you stop, taking the hormones I mean…you’ll look more like a woman?” This was the weirdest conversation. God, I’d really like a look at his life thread about now.
“Some of the changes are permanent, some not so.”
“This is a lot to take in.” I am the master of understatement. “Wow. It’s a lot. A real lot.” Babbling understatement.
“I understand. My question is, do you want to?” He…she…no…he, was looking at me with those beautiful greenstone eyes. My Daddy’s eyes, and I automatically stroke my necklace.
“You still have that?” He sounds surprised. I reach out to caress his face.
“Every night, I hung it on the bed-head. It made me feel like you were watching me.” And there, before me, are the eyes that had loved me. I realise that those eyes, like his heart, are my father’s. That they had once belonged to a woman – I’ll need to work on that – but this is my parent. He hadn’t left me. “I’m going to need…a little time.” I still have questions, so many questions.
“You’re okay with this?” he asks.
“I don’t know if okay, is the right word for it. But, hey…it’s the seventies; besides, I don’t want to lose you a second time.”
“Do you want to stay? I’ve got room. I’ll make us dinner, we can talk. All night if you want.”
“Dinner sounds good, but I’ve got a motel.”
“Honey, you don’t…”
“No, I think I do. I want some time to sort through all this. You. Mother. Everything’s spinning. Everything is not what it was.” Please, please understand.
“Okay. I get that.” His fingers trace the line of my jaw. “You get that from my side of the family,” Daddy smiles. “And that’s definitely our nose.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t push that so much. I don’t much like my nose.” He pulls me up. “C’mon, you can watch me cook. I make a mean lasagne.”
“I was hoping you would,” he says. “I always hoped.”
“So did I Dad.”
I am experimenting with Split Toning in Gimp…some successes…some duds. The photo above was a picture I liked, felt had potential…but it wasn’t special…so here is the original.
Love to know what you think !!!