I just returned from visiting my Uncle Bob who at age 85 has started dressing as a “Lady.” My Aunt Eleanor died about a year and a half ago and he says, “I’ve always lived as others expected of me. I only have a small time left, and now I want to be me.” He certainly makes a handsome older lady in a tasteful dress, wig, makeup, and jewelry. I noticed he had renewed energy and looked healthier since my last visit two years ago. I interviewed him with my video camera and even captured him and Mom, his 87 year old sister-in-law, playing cards like old times.
He told me how girls get the best clothes and a rustling silk skirt and air around your legs is cooling and wonderful in the Florida heat. He wore trousers the other day and couldn’t wait to get home to take them off. He shared with me his theory about men’s pockets versus women’s purses. Uncle Bob, who walks with a cane due to an accident many years ago, still sported Dorothy-of-Oz red high heels on the day we visited. “They make me feel good,” he said with a smile. He pointed to his smooth legs and mentioned that wearing nylons had healed the sores on his legs–my mother was amazed!
He shared stories with me about growing up on a farm in the Midwest with his two brothers who were much older than he, and that his parents had wanted a girl. His brothers did the farming with Dad while he helped his mom with the cooking and gardening. Gardening is still his favorite hobby.
He was excited for Mom and I to meet his favorite caretaker, Barbara, “a cute, young English girl of sixty,” he winked. He joked that he cleans his house before she comes over so they can spend their time socializing and going out. Barbara shows up wearing a flouncy skirt and gives Bobbie a new lace blouse and matching chiffon skirt she’s purchased for him. Over lunch I could feel their mutual affection; she was drawn to this well-traveled, courageous, and genuinely compassionate woman.
Uncle Bob, (it’s still hard for me to call him Bobbie unless we’re out somewhere), noticeably chokes up when remembering Eleanor. I asked him what’s most important in his life, he replied,” family.” His daughter, Mary Kay, said he was always the softer of her parents and smiles, “My dad was there for me when I decided to get a divorce.”
He’s proud that he was a good father and husband to two beautiful women (his first wife died mid-life.) I asked him what he’d most enjoy today and he said, “To be asked to play cards, shop, and talk with the Ladies of his trailer park.” He sighed deeply, “I miss being touched, I got so much of it with Eleanor. You don’t know how much the hug that you and your mom gave me means!” I vowed to give him even a longer hug when saying goodbye.
Additional note: I would love help in editing the video tape I took of my visit with Uncle Bob, his daughter, and my mom who traveled the Amazon with Eleanor and Bob. I’d like to make a short documentary to encourage all of us to live freely, embrace our true selves, and inspire others.