A lot has changed since I last wrote to you … a lot! I hardly know where to start. But, I’m going to give it a try.
I’ll start with what’s happened in the nation in general. The panic over the nation of Islam and the terrorists it spawned has pretty much subsided. We endured eight years of a Democrat in the white house who was elected primarily because he’s African American on his father’s side. And then re-elected because the Republicans nominated a gutless wonder by the name of Romney.
The damage of that eight years was nearly irreparable, but one of the most unlikely people to be nominated by the Republicans and then elected president, Donald Trump began cleaning up the swamp. The only reason he doesn’t have a lock on election this time around is a Chinese originated virus that has killed over 150,000 people. The democrats and their willing accomplices in the press have done a pretty thorough job of blaming him even though he was the first president to stand up to the Chinese and begin the process of renegotiating all of the previous administrations’ bad trade deals. I can’t help but wonder if the Chinese didn’t deliberately spread the virus world-wide in order to derail those talks.
Now the democrats have swung so far to the left toward a near totally socialist agenda that even Granny would have to vote Republican, and you remember what die hard democrat she was. You should ask her about it. I’m sure she’s around up there somewhere.
So much for that. In my world, things have changed a lot too. After my letter to you was published with visions of royalties just pouring in and offers of a movie deal coming in by the day, I started working weekends at bar in Phoenix called The Cash Inn. And no, I didn’t start drinking again. I just liked being there and made a lot of friends there over the ensuing 5 or 6 years. The owners at the time Lisa and Adele, especially Lisa were some of my biggest supporters.
I got a considerable amount of support from others in the LGBT community. Keith, who I identified as “Keifer” hired me to help him re-model two houses. Unfortunately, he died suddenly one day owing me a substantial amount of money and his partner refused to pay me the balance.
Then I went to work doing remodel and repair work on another bar, Plazma in Phoenix. I got to know the owner Jim through my pastor, Jabowa Whitehead. We used to go over there after church on Sunday afternoon and spend time getting to know other people in the church. At one time Jim gave me an advance on work I hadn’t done yet so I could buy books to sell at a college in California. Which brings me to another person; someone who has become just about the best friend I’ve ever had, with one exception, that of course being The Blue Magnet.
I have to admit that I don’t remember exactly what year it was when Christine Curtain, The Little Green-Eyed Blonde introduced me to Jimmy Urbanovich, but it had to have been at least eleven or twelve years ago. Since that time, he and his wife Renee’ have become not only important supporters but have also become good friends. Jimmy has invited me back to speak at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa every year but this year and that being the result of Covid-19. Renee was instrumental in getting a promotional video produced by her son for me to use, in an effort to book speaking engagements, but before any could be arranged Covid-19 hit.
However, the really big, I mean REALLY big events of my life have been one event leading to another, leading to another.
Seven years ago, this last June my financial situation had become desperate. I had been applying everywhere for jobs; Circle K, Quick Stop, Walmart, Lowe’s and Home Depot just to mention a few. I was really desperate. The leasing agent I leased my townhouse from had given me notice that they would no longer accept post dated checks for half of my rent. It was either pay all by the third of each month or face eviction. I would have taken any job offered at that point.
The last Monday in June I received an e-mail from The Home Depot central hiring in Atlanta. It said they had attempted to call me for an interview the previous Friday, but I had not answered. Was I still interested in applying for a job there? I couldn’t dial the number fast enough. After an initial phone interview at that time an interview was scheduled for 8:00 AM the following Tuesday at Depot 469 in Mesa.
My interview with ASM Vicki went so well that she asked if I could possibly return for an interview with the Specialty ASM Jeremy the next day. I said “Of course.” Then she asked if I was willing to come back that afternoon. “Heck, I’ll wait if it’s this afternoon.”
She responded that Jeremy wouldn’t be in until 1:00 PM. So, the appointment was set for 2:30 that afternoon. Jeremy and I talked twenty minutes or so and then he took me out to the kitchen showroom and asked me to sell him every product they had. I honestly don’t think he believed that I had as much experience as I did. At any rate he said he would call me the next day. I thought, “Sure you will.” Several years before I had been told that by another Home Depot and never heard a word. But, he called me the next day and said I was hired.
My first official day was July 17, 2013. I anticipated a year or so at The Home Depot. But seven years later and I’m still there.
In the meantime, Mom passed away the last week of September 2014. After all was settled and her home sold, I was the recipient of a third of her remaining estate. On my way home from Utah after having emptied her home of seventy-five years of memorabilia, treasures and personal things of no value to anyone but family, I realized that something I had thought would never be possible, would be.
I had been living and working as Georgia for more than seven years even though the name change hadn’t been legally official until January 5, 2009. At the court hearing for the name change, when it was my turn to stand before the judge, he looked over the papers, and then looking at me said, “I think this is very appropriate. Petition granted.”
I had been on hormone therapy for almost as long and had become used to the idea that whatever was under my skirt wasn’t nearly as important as what was in my heart and head. So, with the realization that a complete transition was now possible, but also having witnessed the tragic result of hasty decisions in regard to Gender Reassignment Surgery I decided to take my time and be sure it was the right thing for me to do. So I waited and I considered all the implications of what I was contemplating.
The first person to learn of what I was considering was Christine. The first Thanksgiving after we met, I had spent with her and family and friends. After all the hoopla was over and everyone had departed and we were alone I had asked her if it would make any difference to her, regarding our relationship if I ever did take that step. Her reply was, “Of course not and she would go with me wherever I needed to go and hold my hand as long as necessary.”
I called her sometime in the middle of December and asked her if the promise was still good. She said, “Of course.” I told her I hadn’t made a firm decision but was thinking about it.
I waited until sometime in February to contact Dr. Marcy Bowers. Over time I had always known that if I ever took that step, she was the only surgeon I would consider. That was because she, herself was a transsexual and had taken over the practice of Dr. Stanley Bieber in Trinidad Colorado.
My first appointment with her was on March 30th, 2015. I still wasn’t sure that I wanted to go ahead and planned on waiting another couple of months before I made a final decision.
Naturally I gave her a copy of “Dear Mom and Dad” when she entered the examination room and after introductions she asked me if I had any questions for her and I said,
“Am I too old?”
“Why do you think you are too old?”
“I’m seventy years old.”
“I’m seventy years old.”
“When I first saw you, I assumed I was dealing with someone in their mid-fifties.”
I could have kissed her right then and there.
But to answer my question, she said that I wasn’t too old. She had performed the surgery on people in their eighties.
As the interview was winding down, she said that her good fortune was my misfortune because she was booked out for two and a half years. My heart sank. Then she added, “But for you, I will get you in within nine months if I have to work an extra day of the week.”
Before I left the office, I filled out the necessary paperwork and left a deposit.
About two weeks later I got a call from her practice manager, Robin. She was calling to verify my insurance information that Aetna was my primary through my employer and that Medicare was secondary. I told her yes but that I didn’t want Home Depot hassled about coverage; I had the money.
Robin said she didn’t know what I had heard but that they didn’t hassle the insurance company. All they did was send a letter asking if it was a covered procedure. I said that if that was all they did then fine, but the answer would be “no”. Then I went on with my life.
The last week in June, I was preparing to go on vacation in Monument Valley and Durango when I received a letter from Aetna. There’s my denial of coverage letter I thought. I opened it up and started reading. In the middle of the page was the following:
“Gender Reassignment Surgery: Covered procedure.
What? No! That can’t be right. I folded it up and put it back in the envelope. I waited a few minutes and took the letter out again and re-read it. Yup! That’s what it said. “Gender Reassignment Surgery: Covered Procedure”
I called Robin the next morning and told her about the letter and asked if she had been notified. She said no, but they usually didn’t hear until a week or so after the patient did. So, I went on vacation and returned to work on a Thursday in mid-July. The next day, Friday, Robins office was closed at noon, so I e-mailed her and asked if she had received confirmation of coverage.
Monday morning, about 10:00 my phone rang. It was Robin. She said yes, they had received a confirmation from Aetna and that all I owed was $4,000. Then she said,
“So, how about September 2nd?
I was speechless. I couldn’t breathe. Finally, Robin said,
“Are you there?”
“Do you want that date?”
It took a few seconds for it to sink in; that the final decision moment had arrived. I finally said, “Yes, I do.”
“Do you want Dr. Beck to do the breast implants at the same time?”
“If it’s going to happen that soon, yes I do.”
“Then the date is September 1st.”
It had been just five months since Dr. Bowers had said she would get me in in nine months if she had to work an extra day of the week. I called Christine and told her I was making plane reservations for August 31st.
The only other thing I’m going to add is this; I had not been anesthetized since I had my tonsils out when I was 5 years old. I had no idea what to expect. The anesthetist came in to pre-op and said he was going to give me something to relax me, then something to put me to sleep and then would use general anesthesia for the surgery which all together would last six to seven hours.
The next thing, I’m awake and wondering when are they going to get started? Then,
“Oh crap, it’s all done!”
Then, what I knew was possible but didn’t think would happen to me, happened.
“Oh my God, what have I done. I’ve made a horrible mistake.”
But there was no turning back now. I had crossed the Rubicon. I immediately went to work on my own emotions and within two hours I was okay and have never looked back since. It was the right thing for me … Georgia.
George? He’s still there … in my subconscious now just as I was in his for sixty plus years. And he gets in his two bits worth from time to time just like I did to him.
It was not quite a year later that the love of my life, Georgia’s life, entered my life and has made me happy beyond belief. The Blue Magnet makes every day memorable and generally fills it with laughter.
If you are new to my blog, you can read about her and our relationship in posts of February 21st, 2017 and again September 3, 2018.
And the last thing of importance, though tragic, has been the untimely death of my pastor, brother and friend, T.C. “Jabowa” Whitehead. A blog entry on June 2 of this year is a tribute to him. His importance in my life is one of the very last things I wrote about in “Dear Mom and Dad.”
Well, Mom and Dad, that’s pretty much all that’s happened in the last 8 years and not that I don’t look forward to seeing you, I’m just not ready to call it quits down here. I still have books to write and I haven’t had near enough time with The Blue Magnet yet.
P.P.S. And oh yeah … I’ve been ordained an Elder in my church and have actually delivered 3 sermons in the last 2 months, not to mention a lot of introductory messages over the last 4 or 5 years. You can catch them on my Facebook page when you have time.