Today there was a tornado watch where my parents live. Although I know I probably would have heard from them had anything happened, I called. Mom wasn't home, so I talked to Dad for a while. Between today and the other day, I've talked more to him than I did in some years.
That's no exaggeration. Even today he knows that whenever I call, I'm going to talk for longer and in more intimate detail with Mom than with him. But there was a time when, if he answered the phone, he gave it to Mom without speaking to me.
You could say that we had a difficult relationship. Even today, I can sometimes feel the strains, although each of us is making more of an effort than we've made before. Before my transition, I didn't fulfill a single hope he had for me. Or so it seems. And sometimes I wonder whether he's saying to himself, "Now this..."
I know he wanted to have a daughter. So did Mom. And she would have named her Justine. (She told me that when I was fourteen, when we were talking about something else entirely.) But I don't think either of them envisioned that their girl would come into their lives the way she--I--did. Then again, how many people's lives go exactly according to the scripts they've written?
All those years I imagined myself living as the person I'm becoming. But I never imagined that I ever would have the opportunity to live that life. Nor did I imagine that I would come to it as I have.
And Mom and Dad: Did they ever imagine that their lives would become what they are? They are living far from where they were born and spent most of their lives, and people are dying all around them. None of their kids are living anywhere near them; neither are any of my mother's old friends. Now she's finding that she doesn't have as much in common with them as she once did: They've moved to other places and developed new lives. Dad has had only two friends, and both of them are dead.
Did either of them imagine they would be where they are now? Or the ones who would enter that place?
For that matter...Did any of us imagine a tornado watch, much less an actual tornado? Did they ever imagine their daughter would call them to be sure they were OK?
I never imagined any of it. At least some things are better than I ever imagined. After all, I am Justine. And I am called by that name.