My Bargain with God

When growing up transgender in conservative rural area, you learn very quickly that who you are is unacceptable to your community, church, friends, and family. However, deep inside, you know *who* your are; you just can’t express it.

Even though as a young teen I didn’t know such things were possible, I knew that when I grew up, I could be the woman I knew that I was. In the meantime, I expressed my femininity every chance I had. Surprisingly, this was almost every single day and probably why I’m so comfortable with cosmetics.

Something happened in 1984. My grandfather, only 62 at the time, was diagnosed with lung cancer. He continued on for some time submitting to regular treatments of chemotherapy. We watch his health gradually deteriorate.

Eventually, he had to resign from his long held position as comptroller of Brown’s Oil Company. He had been in the oil and gas business most of his life. From pioneering a barge boy business to opening the very first convenience store in Arkansas. This was on Markham Street in Little Rock.

While he was a hard man, he loved his four boys and had tragically lost one to suicide just months before. He was also a pretty fun grandfather.

Often he would pick me up on Saturday nights, drive me to his favorite dives where I would be introduced to Chip’s Barbecue or gumbo at The Oyster Bar. Sometimes we would be joined by his girlfriend at the time. He loved new gadgets like his radar detector. He liked to drive me to grocery stores so we could witness the automatic doors setting it off. He loved a good Bloody Mary.

All of his care was at the VA hospital. Having served as a bomber during World War II, he rejected his Purple heart because he felt his injury over Western Europe was too insignificant to merit such.

The one day, he could no longer care for himself. He moved into my bedroom and I slept on the couch for a few weeks. It wasn’t long though. This big man quickly shriveled to 80 lbs. His time was short.

After a particularly bad day, I ran outside late one night and stared into the night sky. I feel on my knees in the middle of the street and I begged God to let him live. I promised with every intention and oath that I would change. I would refuse the girl inside me if only he could beat this cancer.

He passed on March 12, 1985 at the age of 63, about 20 years after losing his wife to ovarian cancer.

I could look at this in three ways: either there was no God to hear my prayer, my offered sacrifice was not enough, or God wanted me to live my true self.

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