On Carolyn Wagner
My mother loved Carolyn Wagner. Just loved her to pieces. Back during their days of gay activism, when they rode to various places trying to make the world a better place, mom collected a variety of Carolyn stories she loved to tell. Her personal favorite involved a time when they stopped at a restaurant and someone was being less than nice to Carolyn’s son. So she calmly walked over with her purse and said, “I just thought you oughta know, that’s my son, you son of a bitch, and I’m packin’.”
According to mom, this was quite effective, and when Carolyn returned to the table she calmly said, “they didn’t need to know all I’m packin’ is a jar of peanut butter!”
That’s the Carolyn I’ve always known. You just didn’t mess with her kid. She was a PFLAG pioneer and a human rights advocate par excellence. And one of the funniest damn people I have ever come across in my entire life.
I went to Tulsa last night to see her because I was told it might be my last opportunity. If I hadn’t watched my mother’s journey so recently, I probably would have been more shocked but it just seemed like one more tremendously unfair thing to happen to the world. Charles Manson types can’t get some of this, but people who try to do good do? I don’t get it.
Carolyn, to me, always reminded me of the Unsinkable Molly Brown. Numerous times she was told she didn’t have long to live and we’d laugh because we knew, once again, she’d show them. And it didn’t matter how bad she felt – if she visited us, it was always Carolyn Story Time, and she’d have mom and I in stitches the whole time she was here. I really wish I’d tape recorded all of those visits.
I know Carolyn took it really hard when my mom died, like almost everybody around here did. But they really were quite a pair and I know if she could, mom would happily take the pain away. If those two little balls of energy can get together, watch out. Here’s to both of them living on in the people they helped over the years.
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