The Significance of August 26

After just having posted some fairly unflattering comments about my relationship with my mother, I will now execute an about-face and pay tribute to her and my dad on this their 58th wedding anniversary.

I’ve been pretty pissed at both of them for more than a year now, but of course being pissed has nothing to do with loving, and in fact my annoyance with either of them has nothing to do with my opinion that they’ve done something pretty extraordinary, having been friends for 60 years now, 58 of them as husband and wife.

I really don’t have anything to add this year that I haven’t already been saying my entire adult life.

For some reason this year I am acutely aware that today is the anniversary of the death of my gay uncle, Carl Harry Wagner of Weston, VT 05161, from cancer in 1971. I was 11 at the time.

Little was said about Carl’s homosexuality in my family. When I came out 20 years ago, my mother said that there had only been passing speculation, during his illness, that he and his longtime companion, Jim Convery, were apparently lovers, but they had always been, as a couple–or at least a pair–a fixture in my family. With the possible exception of my elder brother Don, who may have been Evangelical by that time, the whole family was still either Catholic or Lutheran. Nana (Carl and Dad’s mother), who was there when Carl passed, did make it a point to tell us that when Carl died, Jim went in the bedroom, threw himself across the bed, and sobbed. No one in the family argued with Carl’s wishes that except for a few special items, everything of his would be Jim’s when he was gone.

I saw Uncle Carl only a handful of times in my life. Of course, many have been the times that I’ve wished that I could go back and talked to him, or to him and Jim, or even just Jim. Jim seemed to get pretty defensive after Carl died. Perhaps he and Nana had power struggles about which I couldn’t possibly have known–they had both passionately loved the same man: maybe there had been competition?

I doubt that there are many people in the world who remember Carl Wagner any more. I don’t know what became of Jim: Google has been useless to me in that regard, and Jim was even on Weston’s Select Board (town council), so he was a sort-of-big fish in a very small pond. I think he was older than Carl, and Dad, the youngest in his family, is now 80, so I suspect that he is no longer of this world.

But at least there’s this blog entry as testimony that he lived and died, 37 years ago today. (We terminal nodes on the family tree need to keep an eye out for each other.)

"Artists are here to disturb the peace." —James Baldwin. Please lesave a comment!

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