A Word From the Author
Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition of
Where Does a Mother Go to Resign?
When I visited my doctor recently for help in treating an eye infection, he told me to buy some artificial tears to keep my eye lubricated. Hearing his instructions, I chuckled, thinking, After all the real tears I’ve shed over the years, now I have to buy some?
Enjoying the irony, I laughed all the way home. Best of all, as soon as I could get to a telephone, I called my son David to share the joke with him. “Mom, only you would find something funny in an eye infection,” he said, laughing along with me.
This is the same son I called “Larry” (to protect his identity) when I wrote this book twenty-five years ago. At that time there were no books, no ministries to help Christians who discovered that homosexuality had hit their nice, safe, protected family. So when we found out David was gay, my husband, Bill, and I had no understanding of how to deal with that devastating, painful news. We argued with David and said some things we shouldn’t have said. As a result, we lived through eleven years of bitter estrangement—as agonizing for David as it was for us, especially because it closely followed the death of two of our other sons.
Oh yes, I’ve cried a lot of real tears over the last twenty-five years! More recently, I’ve wept over the disruption in my life caused by a malignant brain tumor, and I’ve mourned the death of Bill. But despite such sorrows, some of the tears I’ve shed throughout this time have been tears of joy. Our relationship with David was restored long ago, and today I count him as one of my closest friends and confidants. He was the pivotal reason why Spatula Ministries was launched twenty-five years ago, and since then I have shared our story with thousands of parents who needed to be “scraped off the ceiling with a spatula of love.” (That’s where many parents land when they discover that homosexuality has hit their family!)
Through our work with Spatula, and through this book and more than a dozen others I have written, we have seen restoration occur in thousands of families. Many parents have written to say that our story gave them the first glimmer of hope as they got acquainted, through these pages, with someone who had actually survived what they were going through. And not only survived but learned to laugh again.
During the eleven years when our son was gone from us, the Lord kept wrapping us in His comfort blanket of love and injecting joy into our lives. Where Does a Mother Go to Resign? was written out of terrible anguish and sorrow, but God turned our heartache to joy. And that joy has spilled over to other parents in pain through the 250,000 copies of this book that have been sold. Countless hurting parents have been helped by the story that’s shared within the pages. I hope this new edition can do the same for you, whether you’re at the stage where your tears are flowing naturally—or you’re having to buy them!
The Geranium Lady
April 15, 2004
Yankee Doodle, Tinker Bell and One Flat-Out Mom
It was a hot Saturday in June, 1975, the day before Father’s Day. I was scurrying to get myself on the way to the Los Angeles airport to pick up my sister, Janet, and her husband, Mel, who were en route to Minneapolis from Hawaii, and were stopping to spend 24 hours with us. We planned to celebrate the evening at Disneyland, spend the night in a motel in Anaheim, and then have a Father’s Day dinner together on Sunday before they left.
As I was dashing out the door, the phone rang. It was a friend of Larry’s asking to borrow a certain book and wanting to pick it up right away. Impatiently, I rifled through Larry’s bookcase and then pulled open the large side drawer in his desk where the huge red book was lying.
Happy to have located it so quickly, I lifted it out, but as I did my eyes caught some magazines and papers lying under the book. In the stack, about six inches high, were pictures of nude men and a packet of letters, evidently from dealers who sold literature on homosexuality. The envelopes had been addressed to Larry at a post office box in a nearby town.
A wave of nausea swept over me. Surely he was using this material for some school project on this subject. Larry, our third son, was twenty and in his third year of college; surely there had to be a reason why he would have all this material stashed away.
Suddenly, I remembered someone was hanging on the telephone, waiting to know if I had located the book. I managed to conclude the conversation and hung up the phone in a daze of emotions.
I returned to Larry’s room and fingered lightly through the advertisements for homosexual films, pictures and other materials. Even touching the stuff I felt as if I were contaminating myself. What was this all about? There had to be a reason why Larry would order these books or be reading about homosexuality. I threw myself down on the bed and a terrible roaring sob burst from me. I was alone in the house, and for several terrifying minutes sobs from fear, shock and disbelief shook me.
Flashing in my mind was this wonderful son who was so bubbly and happy—such a joy to have around. Thinking of him entwined with some other male brought heaves of heavy sobbing from deep wounds of agony.
My reeling thoughts were interrupted by the realization that I had to get to the airport, no matter what state my emotions were in. I thought, “If only I can zip up my questions and all the panic until twenty-four hours from now when the relatives are safely on their way out of here. Then surely Larry and I can have a talk, and he will have a logical explanation for this.”
Perhaps he had a friend whom he was trying to help. That was Larry, always wanting to help someone else. I snatched the literature and letters from the bed and tossed them all in a sack, thinking I’d keep them with me where they’d be safe—safe from what?
My head felt like a pressure cooker about to explode. How could I let him know that I had found the magazines, but still go through with our plans for Disneyland tonight? Tears were still flowing down my cheeks and my hand was shaking as I took a pen and wrote hurriedly.
I tried to reread the scribbled note but the sobbing inside made my writing look like that of a trembling senile. In my mind was the pressure of getting to the airport and meeting the plane. “If we can just get through the next 24 hours, then I can die tomorrow,” I thought. I felt as if my legs had been amputated, but there was no way to stop the bleeding until tomorrow. But how could anyone survive a full day with such pain in her heart and waves of nausea flowing over it?
Larry, I found the magazines and stuff in the drawer. I love you and God loves you, but this is so wrong. Can we just get through tonight and, after the relatives leave tomorrow, talk about it? Please meet us at the flagpole at Disneyland at 8:00 so we can enjoy the big bicentennial parade and fireworks with them anyway.
That drive to the Los Angeles airport was only a blur. I alternated with heaving sobs of stabbing pain to low moans like those of a dying person. This was not really happening—surely I could push back the clock one hour and remember the fun and excitement we always had at Disneyland.
Why couldn’t we have just this one day together to make some good memories for us all, since it was the first time our family had been together since Tim’s death two years ago? But this was happening. It was not a dream. I drove almost in a stupor with little regard for speed or safety. Certainly if a policeman had stopped me and seen my glazed eyes and tear-streaked face, with my spacey look, he would have taken me to the nearest hospital. I wondered, “Do they have places where people go who are frozen solid on the panic button?” The pain in my chest was stabbing. My head was throbbing and my throat felt as if it were stuffed with a shag rug eight feet wide. My mind whirled with thoughts of Larry—so irresistible as a little boy, so clever in his repartee, excelling in everything he did.
Janet and Mel arrived on the plane from Hawaii, complete with a crate of pineapples and leis for me. I managed a sick smile and excused my looks and behavior by saying I had swallowed something that was making me sick. Swallowed was a good word! I was choking inside, dying, I think, but telling myself that for 24 hours I had to put on the best act of my entire life. Besides, I kept telling myself, there might be an explanation for this and all my panic would be for nothing. I knew this was like grabbing a handful of fog, but at this point I would clutch at anything to excuse Larry.
While we were getting the luggage, Janet pumped me for some additional reason for my swollen eyes and blanched face. I said something light about Larry giving us some hassles about wanting to go on a tour with a singing group for the summer and we couldn’t afford it this year. Her response was: “Certainly nothing could be wrong with Larry. He’s so loving, so kind, such a blessing. How could he ever cause you to be upset?” Janet was sure he could do no wrong.
Driving from the airport to the motel in Anaheim, I was able to lock up my panic and listen to Janet and Mel as they anticipated the excitement of the evening at Disneyland. They commented on what fun it was going to be to spend the evening and have dinner with us on Sunday. It was as if my mind were on automatic pilot, saying words that must have fit into the conversation, but inside my head there was a steady whirl of “homosexuality, homosexuality, homosexuality.”
Where Does a Mother Go to Resign by Barbara Johnson
Copyright © 2004 ; ISBN 0764229419
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.