Monthly Archives: November 2015



I was lucky enough to have a daddy that built a tall metal swing set beside our house for his three children…I guess no manufactured smaller ones would do. He, being a radio astronomer at Cornell University, worked on radio telescopes delivered in huge cartons made of plywood, and I can still see one being transported onto the abandoned railroad tracks in our backyard. We called the carton our Clubhouse, where we had friends come for sleepovers, and I practiced kissing with girlfriends. Preparing for kissing boyfriends.

Behind the Clubhouse is a field where a small pond grows cattails, tadpoles, and is bordered by blackberry bushes that produced thumb-size blackcaps as we called them. I loved eating them fresh as I gathered some for my mother to bake one of her fabulous flaky pastry pies. There were wild strawberries in the fields too, sweeter than the strawberries we grew in our garden; daddy allowing a small patch for me to plant.     Daddy played badminton with me after supper too, and sometimes set up his telescope for us to look at the stars in that backyard of my youth.

We played hide and seek, tried to catch fireflies, one landing on my fourth ring finger so I could pretend I was engaged. Someday. Of course I climbed trees being the “tomboy” I was.

Today, I am still that “tomgirl” as I look out the window into my backyard as I type this essay. Remembering as clear as the blue sky, daddy carving out the blades of a small water wheel which the trickling stream out of that pond caused to circle as my sister and I looked on with wonder. And, I’m still surprised that I’m crying now, after years of his passing on, after years of crying about losing him and my childhood wonder due greatly to my mother’s religious fears of hell.

I was born and raised in Ithaca, NY. As a young adult, I left for ten years and returned in 1974, appreciating my home town at least ten times more. It’s now fall 2015 when I notice someone has painted “question everything” on a Ithaca Commons building, in the backyard of my office.

I have a backlog of tears that water my soul like the rain watering the flowering mums outside my window. Yards and yards of love to recover for my wondrous child now a parent and grandmother, who never questions that her daddy loved her as best as any man could.

WHO is really the boss?

When I was a girl, my mother called me bossy: “Francis the Talking Mule.”  I must have learned to be bossy from her as she was the one who “wore the pants in our house” as far as I could see and feel. Especially when I was 16 and she lost it by yelling at me, “He’s not your father!” Though this was the first time I had been told this truth she convinced my dad not to talk to me about it. She told me as an adult that she thought: “She’ll get over it!”

Well, my mother’s thought bossed my head around, making me afraid as an adult to ever talk to my dad about why he was not my biological father; I’d thought he was until that fateful day. My mother was mad that I often defended my dad whom I felt loved me! I knew loved me! He even wrote to me in nursing school asking why I had held back my affection from him (since I was sixteen)…yet he was afraid to ask me in person, as was I. Over the years, my fears have transformed  into tears of loss.

Mom was the strict one of our fundamental christian family….making even dancing not okay. In elementary school dancing the Virginia reel or the jitterbug didn’t seem to be a problem but when I entered junior high, I would dance slow with a boy and then return home feeling guilty. According to my mother, I was tempting the devil and  becoming “worldly.”  Of course sex was not really explicitly spoken about except that you do not have sex until you are married. Though I knew people make love, I had no idea there was such a thing as masturbation until I was married at 22.

Anyway, I couldn’t continue to dance with the guilty feeling bossing me around in my head until I began to loosen the grip of my mother’s religious beliefs that had impaled me. I became a hypocrite (according to my mother) in my twenties when I began to dance the hustle during the week and then participate in a more liberal Living Hope church on Sundays.

At age 38 I finally jumped out of the chains of religion, after birthing two beautiful daughters,  divorcing my coming out gay husband whom I had married as a Virgin, and becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist. With boyfriends, I began stretching my sexual wings and feeling free. Mostly.

In my fifties, I was dancing 4-5 nights a week and hearing a bossy voice saying, “You should be serving others more; not having so much fun for yourself.” After having become a primal therapist in addition to an MFT…I knew I had to have a session to rid myself of a burdensome guilt! By this time, I had healed a good deal of my childhood pain by becoming a surfboard of rage into my ocean of tears. In this particular session, I was transported into another lifetime: images of being a ballerina on stage, sensing I was in Paris, having lost my career from a broken ankle.

I cried out, “I AM A DANCER!” Since that sobbing session, my guilt is gone, and I dance with the boss of freedom, to be me!