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am 7. September 1999
As I read the book, 'Love, Ellen,' which was written by Ellen Degeneres' mother, Betty, the words stirred memories deep inside of me. I first laughed. I then cried. I was unquestionably moved.
Like Betty, my mother was brought up in the same generation and in a family with conservative values. Issue were not addressed. The 'G' and 'L' words were unspoken and closeted. It was the 'don't ask, don't tell policy,' where your secrets and feelings were stored in your inner vault.
Throughout 'Love, Ellen,' Betty leads the reader on a journey from a mother's perspective seemingly through the stages of grief, ranging from denial: 'Even as I tried to understand, I was in a state of denial. 'But Ellen, boys have always liked you, and you're so popular. You just need to meet the right one.''
...to anger: ''..Are you sure?' The question hung in the air. It sounded judgmental. I softened it, saying, 'I mean, couldn't this just be a phase?''
...to bargaining: 'I understand that my disappointment was not for Ellen. It was for me. I was the one whose marriages hadn't worked out according to expectations. Why on earth should she have to fulfill my dreams? Why not love her and support her as she fulfilled her own?'
...to depression: '...Ellen never had an engagement picture in my hometown paper...I had always fantasized about seeing Ellen's picture there and about her marrying some fine man about myself as being the proud mother of the bride...I felt as if a dream had been shattered.'
...through the acceptance stage: 'Like most parents, I went through a process. It took me time to think about this, to sort out what was important, to get past my terrible ignorance and learn about homosexuality. Though somewhat familiar with the myths and fallacies that are all two common, I need to learn the facts. Two of the most important facts I would learn were, first of all, that as a rule people don't choose to be homosexual; and second, that being gay is normal and healthy. But embracing these truths would take time.'
I enjoyed 'Love, Ellen so much that I gave my mother a copy for Mother's Day with the inscription: 'I don't want you to blame yourself for my sexual orientation. It's not your fault. It's not my fault. I want you to accept it because you love me... because I want you to be part of my life and I'm your daughter. And I believe 'One of the nicest things about being mother and daughter is that one day you discover you've turned into friends.''
Julie L. Shaffer was homegrown in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and she has been recently transplanted in Seattle via a John Deere tractor. Apparently, Julie has a collection of wonderful implements. That's farm implements, you know.
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