Like so many others I encountered this past Easter Sunday, I took time out of my celebration to visit my mother’s grave and to take some of my spring rose garden’s first blooms to honor her and remind myself of the promise of Easter. In my faith, this holiday reminds me that there is life after death and that transcendence and transformation will come from struggle and strife in this journey we call life.
My mother passed away almost ten years ago. In the past decade so much has happened for me personally as an Intersex person. Somehow, in the divine planning of my life, whether you call it fate or a preordained master plan, her departure from this world seemed to coincide with my finally beginning the process of reconciling my unique life circumstance that had gone unexamined or understood for far too long up to that point.
In the spring of 2004, just months before my mother would succumb to decline from Alzheimer’s disease, which afflicted her very early in life, I made my first attempts at reaching out to find others “like me.” The world was just getting connected using a relatively new medium called the internet. By late 2003, I had made phone contact with Sherri Groveman Morris, an early Intersex advocate and AIS affected woman who just happened to live in my hometown of San Diego. She helped me, as she had helped countless others, introducing me to a growing community that had the same questions, concerns, and need for connection that I felt and had erroneously perceived as being something unique just to me for too much of my life. I was not alone any longer.
Meeting others like myself at a gathering in Pasadena later that spring was a new beginning. I started to view the world with my eyes wide open about whom I truly am and how certain aspects of my life circumstances had conspired to prevent me from obtaining such knowledge and self-awareness.
There is a saying, “what a difference a day makes.” It really resonates with me as I reflect upon the decade since my mother passed away, and how I moved forward from a life of disconnect to one of empowerment and enrichment. Some of this journey has been singular and solitary. Other times have been shared with wonderful new friends . As I have become comfortable, willing and able to share, my family and friends have increasingly been more included in learning more about my life. I wish my mother could be too. I think she would have benefited as I have from the growing changes in attitude and increasing openness and honesty that thankfully is becoming the norm for Intersex youth and their families today.
For me personally, remembering my mother and considering motherhood in general at the decade mark of her absence from my life is bittersweet. It represents a major milestone of how far I have come in my personal journey as an Intersex adult who wishes that my mom could be here to share in that celebration of all that has been learned, overcome, and reconciled in the short time since she left this earth.
I want her to know that I do not blame her for my Intersex condition. I want her to know that she was not responsible for it — it is just something that happened. It happened to her as well. I want her to understand that it’s really no greater a sadness or source of anguish than many other issues a mother might faces in the life of her child making their way in this world.
My being born Intersex should not have been a source of division and disconnect between us, but should have been a means of bonding us closer through our shared lived experience. We would have fared better both individually and in our parent/adult child relationship. I can happily say this is very much how I feel about my relationship with my father. Sadly, the door that was my relationship with my mother closed just as my door of personal growth and self-awareness opened up. It was unfortunate timing, but perhaps divine or intended timing just the same.
On the occasion of this Mother’s Day, I am encouraged by how far I have seen my Intersex community come in this past decade as well. It’s as amazing to experience the positive growth at this community level as it is at a personal level. I am so inspired to see my younger Intersex brothers and sisters – taking bold steps of empowerment so much earlier than I did as I enter my “gateway to 50” this coming year. I am so happy for them and their families as our stories are indeed family stories with many layers.
Our community was born of a maternal instinct to protect, nurture, and encourage the next generation. That is what Mother’s Day is all about, and our community is a shining example of this.