I wrote the following earlier tonight, which is a speech for church tomorrow. This serves as ‘part 2’ of the previous post, but it can also stand alone. Just a update on my life and incorporated with my current reality. (Following is a Facebook post I wrote tonight about some friends who are going through some turmoil today.)
Big B bear hugs to you all! -BB
I was asked last week if I wanted to speak about what I’m grateful for today… Guess what my answer was? I’ve also had one or two people tell me to keep it short, which is kind of like trying to shut up a horse giving birth with a blind fold on.
As many of you may know, I lost my Father this past July. Dad left us on July 17, 2019. Tom Bolding was a 75-year-old Vietnam Veteran and Jarhead, who was not a perfect Father in the slightest – but who is? He was real, and his wounds were real as mine and yours. My Dad Roy was a loud and boisterous man. He would walk into a restaurant and snap his fingers for service. He wanted fish on Friday and steak on Saturday. He expected things to be a certain way, and never settled for less. He also taught me to have a very strong work ethic, to never settle, and to stand my ground and be myself even if that meant going down with the ship. He also taught me that family is everything, and that time is short, and its important to say I love you to your loved ones each day.
As I sat next to Dad at his bedside writing my final paper before graduation on that sad day, I knew that he was with me. We had been told that same day that he was brain dead and wouldn’t be coming back. We had decided to let him go with his pride and honor intact, just as he would have wanted. Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about 5 years ago, and believe it or not, he became a little nicer as a result (ha-ha.) He may have been a strict father most of my life and sometimes difficult, but I cherish many moments we shared throughout life.
When I came out to myself when I was 18, I knew that Dad was going to have a problem, so I moved out first. Ironically, he called me every day to ask if I had “met a girl yet.” I finally grew tired of his repeated calls, so I told him one night, “Dad, I’m gay, get over it, and leave me alone.” – click – Dad and I fought about my sexuality for about 10 years. He thought it was a choice, and he thought I was doing this to hurt he and Mom. “So, I’m gonna sleep with a guy just to make you angry? You think pretty highly of yourself, don’t you?” Dad would say that he had let he and mom down, I would die of AIDS and go to Hell. (Thanks, Baptist church!) Believe it or not, through ten years of silence, anger and sadness – I still wanted Dad back into my life.
We all have our reasons for doing this. My reason was that Dad was there for me when I was sitting in the hospital at the age of 14 and throbbing with pain – – the result of a terrific hate crime, where I was kicked and punched for two hours by 5 high school boys – and I had been told I had cancer and might not make it, and they were about to operate… he held my hand and whispered to me that everything would be ok. When the hospital told me they would have to put a catheter in, and I was horrified of it, Dad stood by my side and held my hand as I tried to use the bathroom on my own. (Eventually, I did.) A few years later, when I was on drugs and down and out, he would come to his senses and bring me $20 worth of groceries – he and mom – standing at my door – talking about my messy apartment and bringing me food because I’d spent all mine on drugs or partying. When Dad’s mother died beside us when I was 9, back in 83, I held Dad as he cried and we were there for one another. When Dad found out his son Tommy died, who I’d never even known about, he wept and apologized, and told us that he would protect us until the day he died, and after. I had many great times with dad, despite the bad times, and you know what? Life’s about the good times, and how you handle the bad times and navigate that in order to grow for yourself and for God and to love, heal and move on.
At one point, I had to go to Dad to say I’m sorry – that he was my only Dad I would ever have and we had to make this work – no matter what! And I wanted him back in my life. I even had friends at the time who told me never to talk to him again, after all he and I had been through, and some of them actually stopped talking to me because of that – but you know what? That’s my choice. This is my Family. I learned in that instant that no one can tell you how to feel or what to do in regards to your own family. I also learned that you give family 1,000 or more chances, and many times, others don’t get the same perk. I decided to give dad another chance, and you know what? We became friends. He used to call me weekly, and near the end, daily, to tell me how proud he was about me being back in school and graduating soon. I knew Dad was fading away last year, so I bought him a journal to write in when he had the inkling to do so (no pun intended.) After Dad passed away in me and my sister’s arms in the hospital on July 17, surrounded by friends and family, I went back to their home after the military procession outside and I found that journal I gave Dad last Christmas. In it, he had written: “Bubba, I was so proud the day you were born, and I will continue to be proud of you, no matter what – just know that I am always here for you and love you, and you’ll always be my Bubba.”
The morning of my graduation in Phoenix from GCU, I had a vision of Dad – he came to me that morning and he was standing there in a white field, with huge looming white mountains behind him. He looked all of 22 years old, in his Marine Corps uniform, during Vietnam, and he looked rugged and handsome. Dad told me that he would be there for my graduation, and that I made him so proud, and that he would always be proud of me and would always be there for me. He also said to start taking risks.. start trusting people again. He said that life’s too short. “Do all those things you always wanted to do, and go out on a limb and say so what… You don’t wanna have any regrets like I did. The only regret I had was never providing more for my kids. I love you so much, son. You’ve made me so proud, and yes, I’m in a good place, and they wait on me hand and foot!” I woke up, with my ears ringing and my heart racing. This happened to me from time to time when I felt a spirit near, or felt really strongly that a loved one who has passed was right there with me. This happened all day during my graduation, and it was so surreal.
After my graduation and my older sister and cousin had left back for Texas, and just as me, mom and my sister Kristie headed back to Albuquerque to stay with me for a couple of days before flying back, my sister Kristie suggested we take a different path home than what Apple Maps had planned. “Look! It’s only an extra 30 minutes. and it goes through the Coconino Forest and out through New Mexico.” I didn’t wanna take a different route. My back was hurting, and I was kinda scared that we’d have to drive through a lot of small towns, which meant going slower, which meant we wouldn’t get home until after dark. “I guess… we can take the more scenic route if ya’ll want..” My sister and myself drove us through the few hours of wooded canyons and steep cactus-filled mountains. By the time we had reached eastern Arizona, I looked up from my phone game and noticed that there was a large sign that read: “WHITE MOUNTAINS.” I looked up and saw the same mountains my Dad had been standing under in that vision I had of him the previous day. My heart began to race, my ears began to pop and tingle, and Dad was definitely there. “Dad’s here with us!,” I said. My Sister and Mom nodded and agreed that he was.
After my family left a couple of days later.. it was church Sunday and I was laying in bed like I had been for all those countless weeks after Dad died that I missed church, and suddenly… I could hear Dad telling me again to ‘get out there’ and ‘be social’ and ‘trust’ and ‘make new friends and connections.’ I looked at my clock and it read 9:30 am. I had about an hour until church, and I hadn’t been in a while… So I decided to go out on a limb and try something new and go back to church, at least for that day. I had become depressed and lonely since Dad died, shunned away most of my friends, and went through all of the stages of grief. I was currently in the anger phase, but slowly emerging on the other side of the spiritual phase. As I sat in church, Reverend Judy said “We still need someone to help learn the church audio, to help out when needed.” I raised my hand and agreed. And I had no idea where that came from. As church was ending, the Reverend or Pastor Paul also mentioned that they needed someone for their church Christmas play, a man.. I raised my hand. “I’ll be in the play!” Before I knew it, I was whisked into voice lessons with Renee, who plays my husband in “3 Christmases” and who I now suddenly admire and adore, as well as his real life husband, and I was also flung into this amazing group of people – Charity, Chaz, Anthony, Lilya, Paul, Jeffrey, Terri, and, of course, Maury, who wrote the play. These people have suddenly become like new best friends to me. I know we say that a lot in life but I hope that we still are able to hang out once the play is over. I’ve had the time of my life learning the grapevine, acting after 25 years of not acting (my last play was in High School), and learning how to sing – to sing! – who would have thought? ME? Singing? I feel like Sean Spicer on Dancing with the stars on steroids! This has been an amazing experience, it has breathed life back in me, and I guess what I wanted to say today was THANK YOU for being my amazing church family, for being there for me and allowing me to grieve, but also.. for giving me this wonderful opportunity to serve God and serve others, by being in this amazing play, which is a fundraiser to also help repair our amazing church. This church is where my new family lives, and I hope you feel as amazing about it as I do.
Come see our play! And thank you Dad so much for the courage and insight and 45 years of sometimes conditional love and support. I love you so much and I hope you know you were my hero, and I will always look up to you no matter what – because you taught me to never back down, to always be myself, and to always get what I want.
What I want today is for all of us to appreciate the amazing place in which we’re sitting! This amazing church, which has given me new life, embraced me and honored me. To answer your question, I have been blessed by many things, but most of all the love I feel here with you all, and the love of family over the years, through thick and thin. Family is not just your birth family, but it can also be your church family, or the new family you meet while volunteering for a Christmas play.
God bless you all.
11.9.19 10:30 PM SAT
FACEBOOK POST 11/9/19
B-Blog for 11.9.19
Lots of hurting in my circle today with friends and other loved ones — at least 3 today alone — so I wanted to push out a loving prayer or thought of wellness and love that hopefully we can all take part in:
Please say a little prayer or thought tonight (or intentional wellness wishes & thoughts) for those here and there who are suffering and need a little reassurance that everything will be ok. I won’t say who or what or why, just know that I have some people in my circle who are grieving and/or in pain, as we all probably do, even secretly or behind closed doors. May they know their loved ones are here for them and may they know that they can draw upon that strength and love if needed.
I’ve personally been to hell and back this year, and I can guarantee you that things do get better, life goes on, and having faith sometimes that things will improve, or even that people are in a loving place, no matter what the situation, will get you through it. Faith doesn’t have to be in a God, but it can also be in yourself and in life, and being positive when you’re able to is so vital.
Also, don’t let anyone tell you how, when or where to grieve. We all grieve or process differently, so allow people the respect to grieve or heal as they wish. (As a friend of someone hurting, let them know that you’re there if they ever need an ear or a big hug. Those two need to go hand in hand.. the giving of space if needed, but also the smallest reassurance that you’re still there for them.) There is also never a time limit on grief. I know that for me with my Dad passing this past year, having faith in tomorrow and grieving naturally, whilst leaning on others when I needed to (friends, family, new friends, acquaintances AND strangers), has allowed me to move a little more forward with each passing day, with each step I take. Trusting in others again has allowed me personally to move on and live my life positively… and boldly. xx I take it day by day. I pray for the same clarity for you all and everyone right now who is hurting or in pain.
God bless ya’ll. xx