Archive for April 2011

Mom’s Eulogy: You will be forever missed…   1 comment


While in my speechwriting class, I was asked to write a eulogy. I loved the description it went something like: You can write a eulogy for a dead person, an alive person, on yourself, but, no animals. Anyway, I chose my mother. I never had to chance to speak these words from my heart.

For those of you who don’t know me, let me introduce myself. I’m Tracy Danelle, Sheila’s only child. Or as mom would tell the world, “I did it once and I did it right.” It is a dark day for many as it is for me. I have spent four, soul searching days trying to find the words, to write them, while finding the courage to speak them on this day.  I have my eulogoly in hand, but these words come from my heart.

Today we should not shed tears. Today we should not use a box of kleenex. Today we are here to celebrate and reflect on life. A life that has been very dear to me, my mother’s life. She would not wanto us to cry her a river, but to learn how to sail on it.

My mother’s essence was filled with an abundance of love, courage and humanity. Sheila’s heart was of a saint as she applied herself to helping others. Those who were close to my mom could feel the radiance of love and dedication deep within her soul. It encircled her clients, friends and family. 

I can recall a statement she made that went something like, “I have always been a dedicated supporter of anti-poverty programs. Whether paid or not, change must come, to serve community needs.” Mom began the first runaway shelter in Pennsylvania, implemented life skills programs for youths and job training projects. As a mother, social worker, journalist, photographer, counselor, poet, grants writer, as well as working with ex-offenders, street gangs, and delinquents, Sheila has enriched many lives.

Sheila Ann Jobe was born in Wisconsin in 1944 and was raised in an elite environment of the rich and famous.

When she was 17 and a recent graduate from high school her parents arranged for her to be married. Mom married a Navy man who had a woman in every port. Nine months later I was born. We traveled from state to state never staying more than six months to a year. When the pressure became too much, mom and dad divorced in 1968. I was four years old. It was then she became the black sheep of the family. Sheila had been disowned by the only family she knew. We traveled from state to state as mom tried to support us. It was through her trials and tribulations that she found the courage to persevere. All that she knew was that motherhood had not been anything like the stories told to her. As time went on it was the holidays that she missed and cherished most with her family.

                  (Mom: bottom left)

With all of her family and money gone, she found herself a single parent. She was working two jobs as a manager at local bars in California. We were surrounded not only by straight people but, gays, lesbians, and I can’t forget those drag queens.

And that is where I leaned about diversity and acceptance. To accept people for who they are not what they are.

My mother always followed her heart. Married once, to my father, twice, second husband and thrice. In 1973 mom married a woman with five children. It was a gay Rabbi in New York City who pronounced them wife and wife. It was a moment that warmed my heart as I watched love blossom before my eyes. We laughed then we cried during the ceremony. The marriage only lasted two years, but the memories of my mother’s happiness lasted a lifetime. Sheila finally found her true self.

She was a social worker for 20 years and loved by all of her clients. Everyone called her, “Mom.” Sheila had worked for different agencies and even in Ryker’s Island, New York City’s jail facility counseling inmates. Sheila worked with street gangs in Harlem, New York. You could say mom was in the middle of the stereotypical members who would kill for $10 bucks and the bloody massacres of street gang wars. These kids would do anything to survive and I do mean anything. Not only was mom able to help those disadvantaged youths who wanted to better themselves but, also gave love to each and every one that crossed her path. She guided them to a better place, a safer place, a place of hope.

One moment in time enhanced our lives forever when she was employed at Woodycrest, a home for neglected children, homeless children. It was there that she befriended a young African American boy about to turn 18. He had been sent there for juvenile protection. It was a cold place, but at least he had a roof over his head and food to eat. It was state mandated that once reaching the legal age that the child now adult be given $50.00 and told to go and face the world, on his own, alone.

I was 13 years old and we lived in upstate New York in the Hudson County Valley area when my mother came home with the news. “I have been counseling a young man who was going to be placed out into the cruel world without any help. I wanted you to know that there will always be people in need, but if I could help just one of them…” she said. My mother had a heart of a saint. Sheila opened up our home to a lost soul. It wasn’t soon after he moved in that I realized I had found the brother I never had.

Sheila’s heart shinned through during the holidays. Holidays meant a lot to my mother especially Thanksgiving. We would cook all day and then go out into the night. Driving through Greenpoint, Brooklyn looking for homeless people on the streets. We invited them home for dinner. I remember her words, “No one should be alone on Thanksgiving. And everyone takes a doggy bag with them.”

Sheila had a heart of a saint. But few knew of my mother’s physical hardships. At 34 she had a hysterectomy and was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer and severe diabetes. Then told, “You have six months to live.” My mother proved them wrong and lived twenty eight years longer than expected. She was in an almost fatal car accident and was told walking was out of the question. My mom proved them wrong after six months.

She had a strong will and resilience but, it is her zest for life, search for knowledge and the love of mankind that will live on through all of us. She has touched us deeply. 

While going through my mother’s belongings a few days after passing over, I came across a poem she had written right after being diagnosed with Cancer. I would like to share it with you now.

 

But Ms., Dying isn’t my fear…

One day after surgery

ah yes, the pain still lingers

one day after surgery a kindly

social worker came in to ask:

Are you afraid of dying?

Pressing the issue, ever demanding

my strength, my last blood,

Let’s talk about dying, you’ll feel

so much better, dear.

Dying? What a queer subject

when one is supposedly recovering.

The contradiction of will and reality.

I’m overcome, Ms., please leave.

She stayed on,

ghoulishly awaiting a cathartic breath, a sentence she

could transcribe into: service.

You want to serve me, and not waste

an ounce of your precious education

then serve me.

Teach me to live with the knowledge of

dying.

Her face grimed. I cannot.

I was sent here to discuss dying,

not living.

To err is human. I learned this hard lesson the morning my mother passed over.

It was a dark and wintery night when the first call came in, probably around midnight and the nurse stated she was having some problems and was calling the doctor to confirm placing her on an IV bag. I should have jumped up that very minute. Not once in two months had they called me to tell me her status. I was half awake and half asleep…but that was no excuse. I didn’t rush down there to hold her hand. I didn’t get into the truck and speed over to the hospital to tell her I loved her. I just rolled over and went back to sleep. Two hours and seventeen minutes later the phone rang. My heart sank. The nurse on the other end said there was nothing they could do…she was gone.

I dropped the phone, speechless. I was hysterical, barely able to speak. To say the words, my mother passed over. My friend, confidant, sometimes worst enemy yet, the one who taught me about life, strength, courage and love in her own way, has left her earthly body.

I know she is here in spirit and I want her to know that you have not only inspired me but so many others along the journey of life. You taught us of the meaning of living. “Follow your heart”, you always said. Never again will I talk to my friend, confidant, sometimes worst enemy yet, the one who taught me about life, strength, courage and love. Never again will my mom call to me in the evening to tell me to turn the channel to the dog show competition or to call just to say I love you. They say, “Never say never because it will happen” and I believe it to be true because those vibrations go out into the universe. So, when I meet my mother in heaven, we will talk again. I will embrace mom as if one day has not passed.

You are my inspiration, my guiding light, my mother. You have touched the world with your heart and we thank you for you being you.

Mom always thought that I was the queen of clichés. That my humor was dry. Well, before I say my last goodbye to the woman who had a heart of a saint, I will not disappoint her. Jerry Seinfeld once stated, “A recent survey stated that the average person’s greatest fear is having to give a speech in public. Somehow this ranked even higher than death which was third on the list. So, you’re telling me that at a funeral, most people would rather be the guy in the coffin than have to stand up and give a eulogy.” 

Mom, I love you. Thank you all and remember, love is stronger than death.    

Mom’s Photography

I Love You Mom

Posted April 30, 2011 by greeneyezwinkin3@aol.com in Uncategorized

We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it.   Leave a comment


If I haven’t said it before, I say it now, I am a queer woman. I know it has been quite some time since I have posted. School and work can do that. I am taking a speechwriting class this semester and I wanted to share a speech that I wrote for Margaret Cho who is the speaker of a dedication for the queer area in the GLBT History Museum in California. Keep in mind this was an assignment for school.  Thank you goes out to the museum for displaying our history. Enjoy!!!

Introduction for Margaret Cho

I don’t think I, Danelle

could ever

give a proper introduction

for this woman.

She is a beautiful,

drop dead diva,

comedian,

actress,

lover of humanity,

I say that in the spiritual sense (Looks at Margaret)

sweetie

and political activist.

I give you my old,

old,

old friend,

M.C.

 

We are gathered here today

to bless these two in holy mat,

wait a second.

What the *Bleep*.

Hey, who wrote this *Bleep*?

Sounds like I’m marrying a couple.

Do you lesbian number one

take lesbian number two

to have

and to hold,

blah,

blah,

blah.

Ok, sorry wrong speech.

*Bleep*.

I hope my dog didn’t eat (Shuffle papers, whispers)

my *Bleep* speech again.

Oh, wait!

I Got it!

Do over.

Let’s try this one on for size shall we.

Good morning,

What a great honor for me and thank you for joining us at the GLBT History Museum. On this bright and sunny morning we are here to dedicate the First GLBT History Museum’s Permanent exhibit of Queers in the United States on this day, April 17, 2011.

The GLBT History Museum’s presentation will incorporate

a gallery specifically on the Queer population

and its history.

That’s right.

We have history!

The museum will feature

two debut exhibitions.

In the main gallery,

you will find Our Vast Queer Past

Celebrating San Francisco’s

GLBT History.

Curated by historians

Gerard Koskovich,

Don Romesburg and

Amy Sueyoshi.

In the front gallery,

you’ll find great collections

of the GLBT Historical Society’s

Archive.

We are here to honor our community

and the GLBT Historical Society’s 25th anniversary,

the curators of Our Vast Queer Past

who burrowed into every corner

of the society’s extraordinary archives.

We are here to show respect

and acceptance as we dedicate

this section of this museum as our very own.

It is a commemorative event

not only to Queers, (Point to audience)

straights,

lesbians,

bisexuals,

gays,

transgenders

and those questioning.

It is for everyone.

Did I forget anybody?

Anywayyyy.

For those who don’t know me,

hello bitches.

I’m Margaret Cho,

nice to meet’cha.

I am the Korean American fag-hag,  (Point to self)

girl comic,

trash talker

and I am a biological female.

In layman’s terms

I was born a girl.

I’ll let you in on a little secret,

I am

and always will be

in love with men,

women or whatever. 

It’s not what’s between a person legs

that matters to me.

That’s how I got the label queer.

After having gay boyfriends for many years (Slow down)

finally I have a straight husband,

boyfriend

and lover all in one.

After having lesbian girlfriends

and lovers thrown in the mix,

I am Queer.

I’m not a lesbian anymore.

Which is a shame.

Because I am soooo good at softball. (Pause)

Fran Lebowitz once said,

“Girls who put out are tramps.

Girls who don’t are ladies.

This is,

however,

a rather archaic usage of the word.

Should one of you boys happen upon a girl

who doesn’t put out,

do not jump to the conclusion

that you have found a lady.

What you have probably found is a Lesbian.”

I am not the first avowed queer woman

and I won’t be the last.

I have always tried to make a difference

promoting equal rights for all,

regardless of sexual orientation

or identity.

This museum has joined me

in the fight.

Our struggles,

pain

and tears can be seen in the exhibition.

It begins with a rainbow view

of nearly a century of queer experiences

in the San Francisco Bay Area.

You will be consumed

by multiple stories,

sometimes interweaving,

sometimes isolated,

sometimes in battle.

What will you find? (Pause)

Motifs based on being human.

The first is the search for companionship

and pleasure.

The second is the struggle

for self-determination

and respect in an often hostile society.

The third is the value of individual

and collective expression.

And the fourth is the spirit,

ingenuity

and wit that have been keys to our survival.

But, really why are we here?

Society is slowly learning to be more diverse.

Back in the day,

you see I was a lesbian

and very proud.

I can remember the moments

of being a lesbian.

First, I can recall the memories

of a woman touching me,

sensually.

Second, the curves of a woman’s body,

her scent,

lips

and eyes would always beckon me.

Yes,

I do understand the meaning

of being a lesbian.

And third,

being with a woman

was one of the most spiritual experiences

that I had ever known.

As I close my eyes,

at this very moment,

I can envision the women

who were a part of my life.

Not only emotionally but,

physically,

mentally

and spiritually.

I can tell you that each woman had

their own inner essence.

Each touched my heart.

But,

with time comes change and well,

people change.

I was a lesbian.

And then bisexual

and now presently considered a queer.

I’ve have such a wealth of sexual experience.

I’m always going to be queer.

Why you ask?

Because, I follow my heart.

I married a bio man. (Speed up)

I kinda wanted to get married

and I looked at husbands

like I looked at tattoos.

Like I WANT  one

but I can’t decide on WHAT,

and I don’t want to be STUCK with something that

I am going to grow to hate.

I have come to realize

that there is a difference between genders.

Straight men are so simple.

All they need are beer

and boobs

and Buffalo wings.

Oh yeah,

and straight men

don’t want to go shopping,

ever.

Men,

women,

transpeople,

bisexuals

etc. are all people to be respected,

just people,

just different.

Just as we each have

our own hearts,

minds

and souls.

Let’s talk about our dilemma

that has to do with diversity

in our world.

Do you think our society

is ready for the next gender identity?

I know we are willing to try.

To learn more about what queer really means.

Queer in today’s society

is considered similar to

the features of the GLBT group.

Yes

and

no but,

no cigar.

We are our own breed.

Once again,

society is slowly learning diversity.

We as a society (Look around)

need to open our minds

to the unknown.

To open our hearts.

To open our acceptance level.

We all want the same rights (Point up)

and freedoms.

Because we all know

that once we face the unknown,

it is not that scary anymore. 

I was partially raised by my parents,

and partially grew up cradled

within the gay community

by a motley crew of gay men

and drag queens.

I grew up in the 80s

and 90s,

and I worked a lot

as an AIDS activist

when I was very young.

So it’s something

I always knew I would do.

It’s just inherent to who I am.

My identity is

rooted in my activism.

Y’know,

I’m queer,

I’m a woman of color

and I’m very progressive politically.

I hope to one day

leave my mark on this world,

we call home.  

Today marks a day for learning. (Slow down)

Learning from the past

that will give us strength

for our future battles.

As we look at the past within these walls,

it reminds us we still have far to go.

Presently, legislation is pending

in both the House

and Senate

for our community.

Gays and lesbians

have been struck hard

and need Congress

to Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act,

Respect for Marriage Act H.R. 3567

which denies legally married lesbian

and gay couples

more than 1,000 federal protections.

These are basic protections

such as access to Social Security benefits

and the right to care for an ailing spouse

under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

With six states

either providing

or soon to provide marriage benefits

to same-sex couples,

it’s time for Congress

to repeal DOMA.

To treat all married couples equally.

D.O.M.A.,

which was signed into law

by former President Bill Clinton in 1996

has two key components

against the GLBT community.

Section 2 stipulates

that no state need recognize

legal civil marriages

between persons of the same sex.

Even if the marriage was recognized

in another state.

Section 3 prohibits

the federal government

from recognizing same-sex marriages

for any purpose.

Excluding these couples

from all federal benefits and protections.

Whether granted by statue,

regulation

or sub-regulatory decision.

It effectively bars federal benefits

from flowing to same-sex couples

in state recognized unions.

These are unequal

and unfair laws.

We all deserve the same rights

don’t we?

As the GLBT community

struggles it also strengthens.

As gay and lesbians are fighting

for their rights,

we as queer individuals fight for ours.

Their fights are our fights.

If you are a woman,

if you are a person of color,

if you are gay,

lesbian,

bisexual,

transgender,

if you are a person of size,

if you are person of intelligence,

if you are a person of integrity,

then you are considered

a minority in this world.

As we come together today

as a united front,

we will experience life

as never before seen.

With all my heart,

please join me

with great pleasure

in opening the doors.

The doors of enlightenment

for all the world to see.

A queer world.

My world.

Our world.

This exhibit reminds us all

that just because you are blind,

and unable to see my beauty

doesn’t mean it does not exist.

I want each of you to remember these words. Love is the big booming beat which covers up the noise of hate.

Thank you all for making history with me. (Put hands together and bow).

Posted April 21, 2011 by greeneyezwinkin3@aol.com in Uncategorized

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