Mother and Child

Image result for mary on a donkey images

Mother and Child

Every year during this season, my mind wanders to the heart of Mary, mother of Jesus. All through the year we focus on her son, Jesus, and his teachings. But, for one day a year we focus on this mere slip of a girl, maybe as young as 12 years old, walking or riding a donkey 70 miles or so, nine months pregnant only to give birth in a barn with only a manger for a bassinet. We don’t really understand the dirt and filth and ugliness of a manger because we don’t call anything by that name anymore. It isn’t as bad as a rat-infested dumpster, but if you have ever seen those feeding troughs in a cow field or a horse barn, that’s it. No amenities, no inside plumbing, no heat, no lights, no turned-down bed with a chocolate mint ready for her pleasure. A manger is a dark, dank, smelly pit of a place, not fit for a freshly born baby.

By comparison, the comforts of my life, which are modest by many standards, seem like the most luxurious trappings. But it isn’t the surroundings of Jesus birth that draws my soul to Mary. It is the fact that I too have given birth and understand what it feels like to be nine months pregnant. It is uncomfortable at best. My eldest was born in the middle of a snowstorm in winter. I try to imagine me riding a donkey or walking in the dark on a rough road to a place where I would give birth, not even knowing if I might have this child in a ditch along the way.

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Any mother who has given birth knows that childbirth is accompanied by pain, lots of it. Labor pains, because we labor to bring a new life into the world. Mary must have had labor pains but no one ever talks about it. Surely, Luke didn’t. But I think about it. I think about not being 21 when my firstborn arrived but, 12, or 13, or 14. I wasn’t even mature enough to care for a child at that age. They’ll say “Well, girls had babies at a younger age back then.”  Sure, I know that. But still, so young, so inexperienced, so innocent, this Mary. I would be scared, maybe Mary was too. So far from home, no mother to comfort her or wipe her brow.


And exhausted, probably dirty, maybe thirsty, discouraged that no inn had a bed for them. Perhaps Mary was crying, maybe even sobbing as she told Joseph that the pains were getting worse, closer together. Closer. Closer. Finally, sometime after midnight, in the cold, damp night air, a barn with a manger is all that awaits this Mary, this mere slip of a girl, about to give birth on the streets of Bethlehem. Maybe the straw on the barn floor was fresh and fragrant. I certainly hope something was clean.

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And then, to the cadence of Mary’s screams this special child is born; the screams of his first breath melding with those of his mother. Then, then…silence…as the pain subsides and the babe, wrapped in one of Mary’s scarves, begins to suckle her warm, life-giving mother’s milk. And, I like to think, Mary forgets about the manger and the filth and the exhaustion as she cuddles her newborn son, names him “Jeshua,” and snuggles closer keeping them both warm with God’s almighty, everlasting love.



When my second husband was courting me after my divorce, he gave me a copy of the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull which we both loved and often talked about.  Later in our courtship, he gave me a gorgeous sterling pendant of several seagulls along with a touching love letter.  The letter described our relationship as those of two seagulls who fly together for a while, separate to fly on their own, but in the end always come back and fly as one. True to his vision, although we are often apart in many things and many ways, to this day we always come together in love.

Five years after our marriage, my Jonathan flew far, far away and hurt me deeply. In some respects that old hurt comes back to haunt me from time to as a fleeting memory now some thirty-five years old. It doesn’t hurt as much, but it is an unwelcome visitor. As we were flying back together lo those many years ago, I thought it might be a good idea to give my errant love a Jonathan reminder similar to my pendant.

Our local jeweler crafted two gold Jonathans in flight together and I selected a light chain on which they would be hung. I didn’t want a heavy chain, but a light one that would be a reminder of our linked marriage vows, but not be suitable to represent a ball and chain.  We both still needed that room to go our separate ways from time to time.

Now, almost thirty-nine years later, my Jonathan wears his pendant with pride, enjoying telling others of our Jonathan story and he has never flown so far away since.  I do too. I also have a similar pair of Jonathans on my charm bracelet.  We call them our “logo,” our love symbols. And, I still have that letter along with all his other love letters. Maybe someday my children will find them and understand what binds us together as two Jonathans.


There are many days that I hate all the hate around us and all the hate within me. I don’t want to hate anything or anyone. I don’t. But I do. A friend once said that if you hate someone think of them as a baby. I tried that. It worked for three seconds. Then that damn baby grew up and I hated it all over again. Hate is the worse glob of shit in one’s soul imaginable. It stinks. It putrifies you. It contaminates everything around it. It smears its ugly brown all over any love you have in your soul until that is all that is left of you. Hate. I was beginning to get that way almost four months ago over the apparent demise of our country’s values.  And then I was cleansed by fire. The fire that consumed more than half of my home. The love that surrounded me was astonishing, overwhelming, unspeakably generous. Strangers even, among the many friends. Suffering that loss and being washed by the love of those around me, washed that piece of dung out of my soul. Almost all of it. Today, I try to post positive things political. Things like, thank God we have term limits on the presidency.  Things like, please vote, no matter what your party. I try to find good in anything, everything. Even the ants in my kitchen (God’s creatures, so I feed them outside with bags of sugar). The dog vomit on my bed (Oh well, I needed to wash that spread anyway). My daughter yelling at me for some surreal thing I forgot I did (She’s just tired, she didn’t really mean it). Looking for love and the good in God’s creation, not spewing hate, is transformative. Try it. 

Fire, Fire, House on Fire

On Sunday it will be two weeks since our townhouse fire. I am convinced that this will mark our life so that everything will now be “before the fire,” or “after the fire.” Life is like that when big things happen, like before the baby was born, or after mom died, or before the earthquake. An irreversible wall of separation from an old life to a different life. 
So where are we now? Well, we are settling into our furnished interim condo (just across the street) and friends and neighbors have brought us groceries, meals, clothes, and donated generously to a fund set up for us by St. Peter’s in Lewes or given us cash, checks, Visa cards. We even got a donation to our Amazon account. All of which will help with the large expenses like insurance deductibles and small unexpected expenses like boxes of kleenex. We are amazed at everyone’s generosity and can’t thank them enough.
We have talked to three fire inspectors, three insurance adjustors, Amanda, our project manager from ServPro, who is overseeing the salvaging and demolition. We have moved our handicap ramps for the second time. We have had Verizon install our FIOS for the second time. We have filled out authorization forms for security deposits and started the process to repair our van which suffered some melted plastic areas. We have sifted through the debris to see what could be salvaged.
We are blessed that many items could be saved and will be cleaned and restored. Things like china, crystal, flatware, pots, pans, plates, and utensils. A dozen boxes of canned and sealed food are waiting to be put on our kitchen shelves. Some artwork was unharmed, and there are 15 items at an art restorer to see if they can be resurrected. Clothes not so much saved, but then we didn’t have a lot to begin with and in slower lower Delaware we don’t need a lot of fancy duds. Some of our electronics can be restored – we just got our 40-inch TV back, and we are hopeful “Alexa” will make it. Most of our furniture didn’t survive, but it was showing lots of wear anyway. Smoke is insideous and everywhere even where you didn’t think it could penetrate and is almost impossible to remove. Irreplaceable files and papers were saved but still haven’t found our birth certificates or Baptismal records.
We have also managed to do some “normal” things like open our mail, get haircuts, stop for ice cream, and do a bit of grocery shopping.  Next week “normal” will be paying some bills, lunch with a friend, and shopping for slacks for Ralph. We continue to feel blessed that we are alive and can still cuddle with our precious Loki to watch Jeopardy each evening. God is indeed good.


My debit card has been hacked four times in the last two years. The last time it was less than a month with my new card. Fraud folks recommended a new account number. Said everything would transfer over from the old account to the new account. No problem. NOT! Ralph and I have just spent two entire days calling businesses that were on autopay and auto-deposit informing them of our new account number. I was on hold with two companies for over 1/2 hour, and with two other companies, it will take two pay periods for the changes to take effect. Thus my income from them will be delayed by at least a week while they mail me a check. And, one of my pension providing companies failed to fax me the forms I needed to fill out. That was after waiting 35 minutes 24 seconds on HOLD!   AND, AND…we haven’t even ventured into Social Security. That is tomorrow’s horror story. My God, don’t corporations realize this is the 21st Century and we are digitized, electronified, and can send a message to Tokyo in a nanosecond, but they can’t change a bank account number in less than 45 days? Sorry for the rant, but this has been a horrific nightmare. Oh, and did I mention that when I went to use Quicken and download my transactions from the bank, it didn’t work? Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

UPDATE: First, after waiting about an hour and a half, the Social Security folks couldn’t be more helpful and the change was accomplished in about five minutes. BUT…because it was today, and not yesterday, MY check will be delayed about a week!  A friend said that there may be one of those “Give me your info” thingy on WaWa gas station pumps.  Who knew? Well, I know mine wasn’t hacked that way because the hack last Sunday was made in – are you ready??? – Istanbul, Turkey for – are you really ready???- 27 cents!!!!! SHM till it almost falls off.  Well, after SSA we decided to go to the bank. That was good news. The bank is transferring all our auto-deposits into the new account and letting those folks know we have a new account number. SO, WHY DID THEY TELL US TO CONTACT THOSE FOLKS, CONFUSE EVERYONE, INCLUDING US, AND CREATE HAVOC??? God knows what will happen when I tackle the bank and Quicken on Monday. I’m too busy living my life to do it tomorrow. My head just fell off!  How will I drink my wine?


Posted by Rita Beauchamp Nelson on Sunday, December 31, 2017

That’s what it has come down to – HYN.  I guess everything is abbreviated these days, IOU, RFLMAO, POTUS, FLOTUS, ACLU, CEO, CFO, HTTP, XMAS, LOL, TTYL, U, R. It almost looks like the original Hebrew language which didn’t have any vowels. If we ever get to the point where everything is abbreviated like that how will we speak? I can see that we could say POTUS or FLOTUS, but how would you pronounce HTTP? Or RFLMAO? Or TTYL? I think it would sound sort of like Hatetep, reflmow, and tetyl. And so maybe in a hundred years we will not be speaking English by TAEL (The Abbreviated English Language).  Sigh.  But then, why should I be surprised? We already say “ta” for “to” and drop the final “g” on “going “or “flying” and many other ending in “g” words . And then we combine words like “want to” becomes “wanna,” and “going to” becomes “gonna.” So, I wanna wish you a HNY and then I’m goin ta bed. TTYL.


History means “finding out” from the Greek historia. I’ve found out my former twenty-something body is history. I’ve found out my hair follicles are packing up and abandoning my scalp in alarming numbers. I should be bald by morning. I’ve found out my upper eyelids are sagging, trying to mate with my lower eyelids for no good reason. I’ll be blind if they hookup.

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I’ve found out my nasal passages are collapsing and I snore loud enough to wake the dog, the dead, and God. I’ve found out my once well-formed lips are kissing my esophagus. I can no longer find my upper lip to apply lipstick.

I’ve found out my perky girls have taken a trip south of the border, below my knees.

Saggy boobs

All I have to do is lift my skirt to slip on my bra. My sight and hearing are gradually joining the ranks of history. Who are you? What did you say? I’ve found out all my fat cells are attending a convention in a conference center called The Abdomen, nicknamed The Belly. Breakout rooms are in my butt, lovingly referred to as the two lower cheeks.

I’ve found out the sensation in my lower legs is history, appropriately filed under “N” for “Neuropathy” in the Library of Congress. Doctors tell me my hips and knees are okay, but someday they’ll be history, replaced with titanium parts that will eventually be found rattling around in my cremains. Sadly, my bladder muscles are history, now requiring me to plan every journey from toilet location to toilet location. My tonsils, gallbladder, appendix, uterus, and ovaries are history, leaving me one by one, presumably to visit the annals of history wherever the hell that is. I’m almost empty inside. I’m caving in outside. And as for having sex? That is ancient history.


My heart is saddened and sickened by the violence and hatred witnessed this past weekend in Charlottesville, VA. There are no words to express my horror at these turn of events. Here. In America. In a place where diversity forged this nation.  Where diversity still forges the future of this nation.  I understand that as immigrants fled persecution in Europe and came to America, many native Americans suffered and that is a horrifying consequence of occupation. I understand that to the end of amassing great individual wealth, slavery was an accepted, even promoted, tool. We were wrong in our approaches to these abuses, and if we could repeat the past perhaps we would have done it right.  Made peace. Not enslaved people. Loved each other. Gotten along. Merged together as one nation. But, history is like that – you can’t go back.  You can’t change it. You can’t make a wrong right or change a thing. You can, however, learn from history.  If we let these people so filled with hate continue on their path, this great nation is headed for a Hitler-style Germany where only the select white are acceptable. How many millions will die? Latinos? Jews? Blacks? Middle-Easterners? Gays? Transgender? Lesbians? Men, women, and children of every race other than “white.” Do you see where this going?  We cannot allow this to happen. Our nation and governance must do everything in their power to shut down this evil. We must each speak up and speak out against these haters. These evil ones. These instruments of the devil. I know, I know, they have freedom of speech.  Let them speak out from jail. I know, I know they have the freedom to gather, to protest, to speak their minds. Let them gather in the exercise yard in jail. They must be contained. They must be stopped. What we don’t have in this country is a right to injure another person, either physically, psychologically, or emotionally, and these hatred-filled espousers of white supremacy are hurting people and hurting our country.


And, if you don’t believe me, watch this!

Awareness, Announcement, Acceptance, Attitude, Aftermath

In most situations, there is an A, B, C list of instructions on how to do what.  In being a parent and discovering your child is transgender, I like to think there are several phases.  We all have heard about SARA – Shock, Anger, Rejection, and Acceptance at an unwanted event or death.  I prefer to think of discovering our child is transgender in the five A’s – Awareness, Announcement, Acceptance, Attitude, Aftermath.

The awareness is when we begin to suspect that our child is different. Maybe we don’t know what to think at first – maybe they are gay, or lesbian, or a cross-dresser, or whatever. The awareness is also the phase when the child themselves know that where people are pigeonholing them is not who they are, regardless of what is between his or her legs. A boy says he is a girl. A girl says she is a boy. Parents need to look for early signs that their child may be transgender and be gentle with them, ask age appropriate questions, and finally allow the child to announce his or her gender.

The announcement is next: A boy might suddenly say, “Mom, I’m a girl,” or vice versa. There is always shock. Being transgender is something that happens to other people’s children, not ours. It is simply human nature. When we take our baby home from the birthing place, we expect the gender will remain the declared gender at birth. Today, more and more we know that is not necessarily so, but still…

Acceptance of having a transgender child will come at the pace appropriate for both the child (or adult) and the parent. For many, especially fathers I have found, this can take a very long time.  Learning new pronouns, seeing your very masculine son show up for dinner in a mini skirt and high heels, or your very feminine daughter show up in a tie and suit with a short haircut takes massive adjustment. And, it takes a strong attitude adjustment on the part of everyone. The parents, of course, but also the transgender child who must learn that acceptance by not only family, but friends and even strangers is not automatic and can take years.

A positive attitude is key. Everyone involved will have to develop an attitude of deep patience and forbearance. An attitude of listening, learning, and loving. Unfortunately, there are many parents, families, and friends with a negative attitude who turn their backs on their transgender child. Hopefully, with much love, understanding, and education all of these children will be held closely and with respect within the family and our society.

Finally, there is the aftermath of being transgender and living with a transgender person.  You’ve always called “her” “him.” Your son has a very masculine body and now has boobs and wears skirts and makeup.  Your son’s voice is a girl’s high pitched voice. Names are changed. Many differences.  But, the most disturbing aftermath is the discrimination, the bullying, and the violence they suffer. One person told my daughter she should die. Transgender folks are murdered at an alarming rate. Suicide is high among them.  They are picked on, profiled, and persecuted. It must stop.

My book, Always Kristen, chronicles my journey through the five A’s and beyond and is available at in paperback and on Kindle.

Always Kristen

It is finished. It is published. What, you say?  Ah yes,  my memoir about my transgendered daughter, Kristen, and our up and down journey to acceptance.  A friend, who recently read the book, commented, “But your journey is ongoing.” Indeed it is, for a variety of reasons.

Here is a sampling of reviews on where you can get the book (Kindle version out soon):

I received this book in the mail Saturday and started reading it Sunday. Couldn’t put it down except when I was crying. Finished it in one day. What a heartbreaking and also a heartwarming story. Praying for these 2 beautiful women as they continue on their journey. Much Love and God Bless. This is a must read book!

It arrived yesterday and I couldn’t put it down today until I finished it. Wonderful read that shows us a mother’s love has no limits. This book had me in tears numerous times.

This a remarkable story that brought me to tears more than once. The unconditional love of a mother for her transgender child and the heart wrenching, emotionally charged twists and turns of their lives.
It is a must read.

I read the entire book the day it arrived. It is a very compelling story…and as the journey of this family continues, I wish them well. I found myself saying “WOW” as I tried to comprehend all that they’ve been through together.