Tiny Love Stories: ‘I Would Shamefully Lower My Gaze’

Health Information Lifestyle

When people see my 20-year-old son George holding my hand, they often stare. I hold George’s hand as we cross busy streets or navigate through crowded grocery aisles. We learned that George had profound autism at age 3, an intellectual disability at age 6 and bipolar disorder at age 15. He is tall and handsome with a bright smile and beaming eyes. When people see us hand in hand, they have to quickly readjust their perceptions of chronological age. What I wish they would see: A mother and son who love each other deeply, beyond words and diagnoses. — Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Me and my son on his 20th birthday.

I step off the front porch and my foot sinks. “Damn moles,” I shout. A mole sized subway system runs from front yard to back. OK, they’ve killed the grass, but uprooting the gaillardia, my beloved peonies? They won’t relocate. My neighbor offers a pitchfork. “Drive it down hard along the tunnels. That’s what I do.” My stomach flip-flops. I reframe the problem. “You win, moles, my home is your home.” Now I imagine them running along their tunnels, happily aerating the soil, eating grubs. They say, “Love your enemies.” I say, “Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.” — Stephanie Tames

When I went grocery shopping with my mother as a child, I was often embarrassed by her noticeable Bengali accent and traditional saris. I would try to distance myself from her so passers-by in Canada didn’t know we were together. During Eid, when we couldn’t afford to hire a taxi to visit our family friends, I would shamefully lower my gaze while boarding the bus in my flashy salwar kameez. My mother would proudly walk onto the bus, showing off her perfectly pleated sari. Now, I know, my mother’s accent was her sacrifice, and her sari was her homeland. — Maeesha Biswas

Years ago, my partner, Kathleen, and I bought a duplex in Milwaukee. For 21 years, we poured in sweat equity: painting, waterproofing the basement, pulling up linoleum and refinishing the birds-eye maple floor underneath. When our children left home, we reluctantly downsized to a condo, thinking no one could ever love our house as much as we had. Wrong! The younger lesbian couple who bought it has creatively remodeled the space for themselves and their children. Over monthly cocktails, Kathleen and I share our history, and they share theirs. “The house is a safe haven for women,” we say. — Carolyn Kott Washburne


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