“Don’t let your past dictate who you are, but let it be part of who you will become.”  Unknown

Upstairs on my antique tripod table sits a 50 year old, detailed and beautifully-carved horse head. The horse head is carved into a grainy piece of faded, now dusty, and variegated wood the color of Kurashige mango.  I pass by this slab of wood every time I go in and out of my bedroom or walk through the upstairs hall.  It is dear to me as my brother, Jim, carved it way back when he started junior high school.  It was Jim’s first attempt at woodworking and it shows how extremely talented and creative my brother was.

There are a variety of mementos from Jim sitting around my home: a dried flower arrangement in my bathroom, note cards and photo albums stashed under my desk, and even a miniature pot for burning incense, that was never used by me, sitting on one of my bookshelves.  These gifts were all thrown out by our mother when my brother died, only to be rescued by me.  I ask, HOW can a mother callously throw out remembrances of her son’s life? As I sit here rehashing our family trauma, I feel like a deflated hot air balloon, devoid of emotion.  I have spent nearly all of my life being angry at my parents, so I think I have finally cleansed myself of that horrid sensation.  When I lived with my parents, expressing my anger wasn’t allowed, so I stuffed it only to explode at mom and dad years later after my brother’s death.

Now, I suffer such a conundrum as I struggle to unravel the tangled threads of our family dynamics. My blue-eyed, red-haired, hotheaded brother was beyond rebellious while growing up. Yet, Jim was also highly artistic, creative, and intelligent. My brother drew detailed pictures while also exhibiting an eye for design and color. Jim loved various cultures and was fluent in Spanish, French, Russian, and Tibetan. Plus he knew and spoke a little Dutch and German.  Jim and I were night and day opposites as I worked at being a people pleaser, to calm my mom and dad.  Plus, I loved the freedom of being outside, riding my bicycle 35 miles, body-surfing in the ocean, doing water-ballet, or reading a book in the sun, as I escaped from being around my parents.

My brother was also quite liberal-minded, but it was the 60’s in Southern California after all … “sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll.”  Dad, a staunch conservative, couldn’t be in the same room for five minutes with my brother before the fireworks went off.  Ninety percent of the time I felt as if I was in the middle of a Vietnamese war zone between the surprise attacks and sudden explosions. Avoiding being around our parents was a priority for my brother, Jim, and me.

Our dad’s grandparents came from Conwy, Wales and were exceedingly strict to the point of being abusive.  Consequently, our dad’s father used to beat up his wife, his daughter, and his son, our dad. Our dad broke the cycle slightly in the fact that when he finally out grew his father, dad told his father that he “would kill him if he EVER laid a hand on his mother and sister again.”  However, what dad did not recognize was the belittling that took place at home. Thus, he carried that habit forward to our home.

Mom grew up in a similar situation. Mom’s father’s family came from Germany. My great grandfather had been a superior court judge for the state of California.  He had been quite wealthy, but then he tried to help the state by backing a bond for a Northern California water system.  Unfortunately, the bond failed and the state of California took everything from my family. Our family’s anger never dissipated and brutally impacted everyone. Mom’s parents were extremely stringent in their life-style and beliefs.  Thus, our mom’s and dad’s childhoods had been extraordinarily difficult, and they had quite strict ideas about how the world “should be” as neither of our parents had a healthy or happy parenting style.

Consequently, our parents had no idea of how to deal with two children who had ideas of their own about what they wanted out of life. Supposedly, “good children” always followed their parents’ advice and did EXACTLY what their parents said… right?  Not in our case.

I had spent my life as a buffer between our parents and my brother so when I left for college the firewall was gone.  Jim and dad argued one day over heavens knows what, the argument escalated, and dad beat my 16 year old brother up.  Jim ran out of the house never to return as he moved in with a friend.  Jim sold drugs to survive.  Plus, what we didn’t know is that the “friend” was a sexual partner. I learned years later that Jim had been raped too by a supposed Sea Scout leader. So Jim had quite a few sexual experiences that we had no clue existed.

When my brother was 19, in the early 70’s, much to the entire family’s surprise Jim ‘came out’ as being gay and declared that he was HIV positive. Recently I have heard people say “Oh no, HIV wasn’t discovered until the 80’s.”  What these people don’t realize is that the medical community definitely knew about HIV/AIDS before the 80’s as they attempted to cover up these findings thinking that they were a few isolated incidents.

So when Jim made his announcement, I was totally shocked, as simply I had no clue to what Jim was experiencing.  I knew Jim had considered suicide in his mid-teens as I had sensed something was radically wrong one night when he slipped out a window and didn’t return until the wee hours of the morning… but I didn’t have any idea of the specific problem.  Ohhh man, the family shook like a Ferris wheel in a violent wind storm. Any relationship that my brother had developed with our parents evaporated like a drop of water on a sizzling pan as my dad stated “No son of mine is going to be a F***ing Fag!”

Being gay, especially in the 70’s, was unacceptable to our parents. It was also met with total intolerance within the community.  I remember Jim had to go to the doctor for some blood work.  The aide mistakenly hit my brother’s vein and blood spurted out all over.  The aide was terrified and ran from the room, leaving Jim to bleed and solve the problem himself.

Because my brother could not find acceptance at home or within the community,  Jim strove to find acceptance through religion. Over my brother’s short, but action-packed lifetime, Jim dove headlong into most of the world’s religions at one time or another. Jim, in his early high school years started out as a Christian Scientist.  At that time, Jim became sick from his involvement with drugs.  By this time, I was married with my own life, so I only happened to find out from my parents that Jim was in the hospital in intensive care.  The doctors discovered while Jim was in the hospital that Jim was born with an abnormal heart – three lobes on both sides of his heart, plus it was severely tilted to the left.  The doctors wanted to do exploratory surgery and thought that Jim would die if they didn’t check out his heart.  Since Jim was 19 and a Christian Scientist, he refused the surgery. Miracles happen as thankfully even though he was in critical condition Jim survived without the doctors cutting into him.  The great news though is this experience did get Jim off drugs.

Jim’s life dramatically straightened out then, so he went off to college in Northern California to obtain a Liberal Arts Degree.  After his graduation, he taught blind children in a school in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Jim’s goal was to teach these youngsters that there was hope for them to grow up to become productive adults and not be victims.

Over the years, Jim belonged to Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s group and had to escape up over an eight foot barbed wire fence at a Los Angeles compound late one night in order to get out of the group before Reverend Moon and his group was kicked out of the United States.

Jim’s next learning experience was when he joined the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s group that practiced “human potential psychotherapy.”  The Bhagwan taught a syncretistic spiritual path that combined elements from Hinduism, Jainism, Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, ancient Greek philosophy, and new forms of therapy and meditation. As the other followers, my brother grew his cinnamon-red hair long enough for a top-knot on his head.  He was clothed in orange and wore a beaded necklace with a picture of the Bhagwan attached.  When the Bhagwan started collecting his followers’ worldly possessions, Mercedes, Rolls-Royces, Jaguars, bank accounts, etc., Jim finally recognized the Bhagwan for the fraud that he was and left the cult.  Shortly afterward, the Bhagwan was kicked out of the United States and sent back to India.

In the meantime, while in Seattle, Washington, Jim taught at a school for Special Education students to help the kids learn to function in the everyday world.  Then my ever curious brother, moved back to Northern California to graduate with his Master’s in psychology.  Because of his interest in the Buddhist philosophy from when he was involved with the Baghwan’s group, Jim decided to learn more about the Buddhist religion while he was obtaining his Master’s Degree in psychology. Surely, he would gain acceptance for being who he is this time! What I find incredible is that people don’t seem to look beyond the surface at who we are as individuals.  Jim was Gay, but he was a loving and very bright person who helped children and adults.  Why couldn’t he be accepted for the good aspects of his life? In each of Jim’s religious followings, like at home, Jim had to hide the fact that he was Gay.

When Jim completed his Master’s dissertation on starting HIV/AIDS Support Groups, he set up the first support groups back in Seattle to help these people suffering with this disease, as Jim was. Eventually, Jim became so enmeshed in this religion that he decided to become a Buddhist monk.

Because Jim was HIV positive and extremely thin, Seattle’s cold weather was creating havoc with Jim’s body. So he moved to the Buddhist Ashram in Honolulu, Hawaii where he eventually ran the Ashram because of his depth of knowledge in the Buddhist religion and his capability in speaking the Tibetan language.

Then, finally, during the Gulf War, Jim accompanied his Lama and the Dalai Lama to India to give out money to the temples. I do know that in order to be selected to accompany the Lama to India Jim had to be able to speak and write Tibetan at a certain capability. Since it is the Dalai Lama’s duty to distribute money, Jim and the Lama accompanied him as they had brought some of the donations from Hawaii.  Sadly, the sentiment against Americans at that time was vicious, so the Hawaiian Lama disguised Jim as a Nigerian.  They dyed his red hair black and darkened his skin, and then hid Jim out in Katmandu for three months until they could figure a way of sneaking Jim out of the country and back home.  I never did learn the details of how Jim managed to get home, but it was a complicated route.

While Jim was hiding in India and Katmandu he saw the drastic differences in how the Buddhist nuns were treated versus the monks.  The monks lived in temples surrounded by finery, whereas the nuns lived in corrugated metal huts. The nuns swept their dirt floors and were vigilant for snakes as there were no doors on these huts. Jim was disgusted by the caste system and the treatment of these nuns. Jim wanted acceptance for all! When Jim returned to the states he turned in his robes and left the Buddhist religion. After Jim’s experience with the vast religions he was so angry he vowed never to participate in another religion. He was true to his word, because he died a little over two years later. 

Because of the dirt and squalor in the food and living conditions in Katmandu, Jim unknowingly picked up three vicious parasites that were unknown to the doctors in the states.  By the time, the doctors figured out why Jim was so ill, the parasites had made Swiss cheese of his organs.  Jim went through nearly two years of hell as his organs gave out. He experienced pain and incredible suffering as he could no longer control his bodily functions.  Plus, since my brother was seriously HIV positive his system could not fight the diseases or the parasites, nor was there any medicine for either.  The doctors told Jim he did not have long to live, but they didn’t know exactly how long. It simply depended on Jim’s body and what fight it had left.

I still remember his call saying that he was dying.  He warned me that he would have no warning… he would simply be gone.  I felt crushed as I didn’t want to lose my friend and brother. I was determined to have time with my beloved brother. I promptly climbed on a plane to Honolulu, to say “good-bye.”  Fortunately, it was Memorial Day weekend and I had a three day holiday from work.  I was a single mom so I had two children at home to support. I scraped together the money for my trip.  By the time I arrived, his strength was marginal and he had to rest between the three days of my visit. Jim was so ill that he could not be with me for three days in a row. I simply wanted time, whatever time I could get, with my brother, but he was determined to be strong and be a good host.  One day he drove me around the island to show me the tourist spots.  I have no idea of where we went as frankly I didn’t care.  I simply wanted time with my brother. The next day Jim rested while I sat in my hotel room studying for a class.  That night, we went out to dinner at a local Asian restaurant. The next day, my brother drove me to the Honolulu Airport where I hugged him and said “good-bye.”

I want to know how you say “good-bye” to someone you love, knowing you will never see them again?  I didn’t want to upset my brother so I worked at being very strong.  Then sat on the plane as the tears trickled down my cheeks.

Amazingly, Jim lived for nearly a year longer.  We would chat on the phone frequently to discuss our lives and what we had learned. One very important fact that jumps out and hits me in the face is that because mom and dad insisted that our jobs be practical, Jim and I did not follow our passions.  Why Jim taught children escapes both of us as because of his interest in languages and cultures, he would have preferred to be a translator and maybe work for the United Nations.  I went to work for a bank, but I would have preferred designing clothes or doing something with my love for the water. I loved creativity.

Then one day Jim dropped into a coma and three days before his 42nd birthday he died alone. Jim had refused to call our parents when he entered the hospital.  Jim was too tired to deal with mom’s and dad’s judgment of him. By the time Jim dropped into a coma, his friends realized that our parents didn’t know Jim was in the hospital. Then I will never forget the dull sound of my dad’s voice as he said, “We missed the flight.  Your brother passed away before we could get there.” No matter how I try, I can’t remember the rest of the conversation.  My body went dead, my ears rang, I felt like I was going to throw up, I had to go home.  I couldn’t stay at work.

When I think back about my brother’s now spent life, my mind is flooded with memories and tears. Everything cascades forward so I have difficulty telling one detail from the next.  However, the one thing that stands out is that my brother definitely was an interesting character, and he lived more life in his 41 short years than most of us live in a far longer life span.  My brother, James Robert Edwards, had been on a crusade to discover acceptance for who he was as an individual and never found it because he felt that he always had to hide who he really was – a Gay man.



About Gwynn Rogers

After 20 years of sales and marketing experience in the fields of real estate, high tech, and corporate travel, Gwynn has moved on to the career of “Grandma.” When not teaching her granddaughters an extensive vocabulary of “alley-oop-boop, ups-a-daisy, cowabunga or bummer”, Gwynn can be found hunting for mentors for the Kitsap Youth Mentoring Consortium, or chasing her fantasies on her treadmill. Gwynn currently freelances for magazines.
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28 Responses to Acceptance

  1. Susan Scott says:

    My dear Gwynn,
    this is an extraordinary story – thank you for telling it. It must have been a trip down memory lane, reliving the pain and anguish of your younger years. How sad that your father in particular did not accept his son for his orientation, whatever it may have been. A grief that your brother had to bear. But in spite of this he went out in his INDIVIDUAL way wanting to make the world a better place. He learned lessons that is for sure – as we all do in the hurly-burly of life.
    It is true that our parents were descended from the Victorian age. Parents such as ours who lived through WW2 were confronted with ‘make love, not war’ and their children were active in the protest against all that our parents stood for. Thank heavens you were there for your dear brother Jim, Gwynn. You were his constant, a loving and caring sister.
    May Jim’s dear soul rest in peace … and may you gain comfort that he lived a thoroughly interesting life going where others dared not.

    • Jim Dunn says:

      May every dear soul rest in peace. There is or right or wrong way to live, just many different ways. Gwynn, like all of us, is a child of God on a journey without distance to a place she never left. I bless her, her family and friends, and all others who impacted her either positively or not.

      • Gwynn Rogers says:

        Hi Jim, Thanks for commenting on my blog. My brother was a very good, intelligent, and creative person. I miss him tremendously. I’m sad that he is not still alive to see some of the positive changes in this world.

  2. Gwynn Rogers says:

    Susan, Thank you for your reply to my story. My brother was such a character. He loved various cultures and philosophies. He NEVER read a fictional novel ONLY educational writings about philosophies. Plus, he NEVER even owned a TV. His largest living space was a one bedroom but most of the time he was in a studio apartment. He totally spurned capitalism… another issue between my parents. Yet, he lived such a crazy life… he wasn’t afraid to “jump in” like I am. I do SO miss him. Yet, now I’m sure he is out there having roundtable discussions with all of the world’s philosophers. Again, thank you for your kindness.

  3. Ditto what Susan said, Gwynn, all of it. I’m glad you told Jim’s story. I should think Jim would be, too.

    I have been blessed with a deep curiosity about people, who they are as individuals, and study them intently, wanting to get to know them better. Most people have not been blessed with that characteristic. Nevertheless, a little effort would be appreciated. It is sad that we are cared to be only superficially known by the common herd.

    Meanwhile, here, don’t you have a little box I can check so I can receive follow up comments? 🙂

  4. Gwynn Rogers says:

    Thanks Samantha for your comments. As I mentioned to Susan, my brother definitely was a “one of a kind” character. He was so curious about the world and I don’t peak out of my little box – definitely opposites.

    As for a “little box” for you to check, I don’t know if I don’t have that because of the way my friend set up this program OR where to find it to fix it. Wanna come over and help me? 😉

  5. T. J. Banks says:

    Gwynn, you do your brother — and yourself — proud. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we manage to turn out what I can only call turning-point pieces…stories/poems/plays/what-have-you that change us as writers. I think that this may be one of those pieces for you. You pulled it out of your very being, and therein lies its power.
    Btw, this may go without saying, but you just gave your brother what he wanted his entire life. Acceptance.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      T.J. – I’m in tears. You just said the most important thing in the world to me… accepting my brother for who he was. None of us are perfect, but our good aspects need to be acknowledged. Above all I so appreciate your support. Thank you.

  6. Lisa says:

    I wish I was able to meet your brother! It sounds like he was truley a man before his time and could teach all of us something about unconditional love. Matt showed me some writings, more like notes, of his awhile back and they really resignated with me.
    Take care.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Lisa, Thank you for your comment. You are married to the creative side of my brother. Matt is just as artistic as Jim was. So Jim lives on in Matt. I so truly wish Jim could see your house now as it so reminds me of Jim’s style. Plus, I wish Jim could meet Matt as an adult, and meet you. I think Jim would be pleased. I love you both!

  7. patgarcia says:

    My Dear Friend,

    i have sat here this afternoon reading the blogs of all the people I treasure, and I would like for you to know that this article on your brother is revealing and heartwarming. Yes, you loved your brother and I can feel the love you had for him.
    I cannot explain to you or offer an excuse for the harshness that mankind heaps upon man. We scream about justice and equality, yet women and children in our society are treated badly, mishandled and abused.

    From what you have written about your brother, he was looking for that acceptance as a human being. Unfortunately his parents did not know how to give it to him or to you. Both of you suffered horribly. And yet there is light in all of this, when I read how your brother helped blind children. He wanted them to know that no disability could stop them from achieving. I see it also in his anger at how the buddist nuns were being treated and his rejection of that religion.

    I personally believe that the rape that happened to him when he was a young scout took away his beliefs and ripped him of who he was. I am sorry that he did not have the atmosphere at home where he could go run to his father and be comforted and receive help and protection.

    However, I am equally glad that you were able to escape, and I am thankful to know that you are developing those talents that remained hidden so long.
    Thank you for this extremely revealing article about yourself. You are very dear to me, and I appreciate the closer look you gave me of who you are.

    Love you, Gwynn.


  8. Gwynn Rogers says:

    Patricia, you are such a dear. Thank you for your understanding, support, and caring. Mankind boggles my mind. To me there is SUCH hypocrisy in the world – the rape of women and children, the human-trafficking, the murder of innocents, and the phenomenal ignorance of what takes place around us. Sadly, if a person isn’t like us we don’t have the right to judge them unless they are doing something wrong.

    I even suffered from “supposed” friends at church when they made insults to my teenage children when their uncle died. This is the reason my children and I no longer attend church. Too many people living in glass houses throw rocks. The things my brother suffered, because he was Gay, should not have happened. To me you judge a person on what good they do for mankind.

    However, it is especially painful when children don’t receive the understanding, support and love from their own family. For me, I now have a new family, my friends from around the world and my brother is in his element out in the universe. This July is the 20th Anniversary of his death. I do miss him. Thank you for your kind words!

  9. Val Rainey says:

    Oh, Gwynn! Your brother would be so proud of you for having the courage to share his story. Even now gays etc are put down as less than ‘proper’…….humphh! He definitely lead an interesting life. It must have been terrifying trying to escape from the Moon compound.

    He had some amazing travels and experiences in his far too short life and I bet he’s having a great time telling the gang all about it.

    Love and Huge hugs,

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Yes, my brother did live an “action-packed” life. He was truly interested in the world and put his interests to work. It was so interesting as he did work to support Gays here in Seattle. One day my cousin saw him on TV, called her mom and said, “Did you know Jimmy was Gay?”

      What I’m especially sad about is that my brother did not get to see my children grow up as I think he would have been truly proud of them. My son, Matt, is as artistic if not more so than his uncle, and my daughter has her Master’s in psychology too. So my brother’s gifts live on in my children.

      Thanks for your kind words.

  10. It’s a really beautiful story, Gwynn. I don’t know much more to say than that, having had my own brother die I know the feeling. I’m really glad you were able to spend some time with him before he died, and I love how his gifts are indirectly expressed through your children.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      My mom and my brother were interested in the Asian culture consequently they had quite a bit of art and artifacts… my son, Matt, now has them in his home. I’m blown away with the way Matt decorated his house. I so wish Jim was here to see it. I’m sure Jim’s spirit is here cheering Matt on.

      Because Jim was so intellectual he didn’t relate well with small children, this is why I’m so sad Jim can’t talk to my kids now. But Jim does live on… even if indirectly. Thank you for your wonderful thoughts.

  11. Very touching story. Loved the words “Ferris wheel” in a storm, I could just feel the situation. It is sad how some parents have an image of what they see their children and their ideas are so strong that the child can’t even show them the truth.
    You were very strong for your brother, Gwynn. Even if others couldn’t accept him in his life, one person makes a difference.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Thanks for commenting Nicole. My life was different from yours as supposedly I had a “good family” environment… hard-working, intelligent, and active. It is amazing what you find after you take down the cloak of expectation. My parents simply did not know how to be understanding parents especially when their kids did not meet up with parental expectations. Trauma in the family comes in all shapes and forms.

      Years later, I had a reunion with former high school buddies. We talked all night about our families while we were growing up. It is truly too bad we hadn’t talked like that when we were kids as we were shocked at what we learned about how the other grew up. Sharing stories for kids is critical.

      So thank you for sharing your stories for helping kids.

  12. Gwynn,

    I had to take a moment and regroup emotionally, before being able to type. Jim’s free spirit, his desire to simply be accepted and loved by those from whom love should have come naturally moved me to tears. What a wonderful, loving human being your dear brother was, dedicating his life and considerable intellect to helping others. We need so many more like him in this world that’s moving from disaster to disaster.

    Thank you for pointing me to this story, and I absolutely see meaning here in what we were emailing about earlier. And I see the unfairness through dearest Jim’s eyes, imagining how it must’ve looked and felt for him to see such unfairness in this world that did not accept a gay man, but discriminated against women and children.

    Lastly, I just want to say that this story is so powerful it deserves to be printed someplace, a non-fiction journal. I think many editors would gladly accepted it.

    Thank you, Gwynn. I’m glad Jim had you, his wonderful, loving sister.
    My best,

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Well Sylvia, you will LOVE this… I made a long reply to your kind comment and my blog said my page wasn’t available, so it all disappeared into cyber-space!

      To me, along with our previous conversation, I find there are many Pros and Cons in the world. The issue of religion can be one of the largest factors in the way women are treated, and people in general… as my brother. The sad part is that when my brother died, my friends at church and the youth counselors gave my children a VERY bad time about my brother being GAY. Due to this hypocrisy neither of my children nor I have attended church since.

      Plus, so many wars are being fought because of differences in religion. I so would love to see this mindset change!

      My years of volunteering for children’s programs is due to how my parents treated my brother and me. Accepting people for who they are… provided they are good people is important to me and my children.

      I would love to see my story published, but due to the subject, I imagine too many magazines will shy away from it.

      Thanks for your dear comments thought… they mean the world to me.


  13. Joseph Rubin says:

    Dear Gwynn, I was so moved by your story, and I have no words that easily will come to me. Just now, I had been e-mailing to you while I took time-off from sleeping, about 3:30 A.M., and after this I did not want to get back to sleep and decided to access your story at 5:15 A.M. I have anticipated that this true story could be converted to a novel of 350 pages, with people in the novel fictionalized and the author also fictionalized. Something to think about. One is never finished with complete catharsis.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Dear Joe, Thank you for reading about my brother. He kept journals of his life, but because he was an intellectual he wrote affirmations and facts about whatever religion he was participating in at the time. There was no information about the life that he was living at the time. The few facts that were there, I already knew.

      Since my brother and I were such opposites it is extremely difficult for me to even imagine what to put in about Jim’s life. I think someone would have to hypnotize me and wring me out in order to come up with any other details. I know virtually nothing about Jim’s relationships with his partners. The one thing I do know is that because of Jim’s interest in Chinese and alternative medicines Jim lived ten years longer than his friends. The way we have treated Gay people is repulsive. I wish my brother was alive today to see these changes. Thank you for your kind comments. I hope you get some sleep today.

  14. Wow, what a story! I sigh for Jim–and you. It’s hard to imagine how he covered so much territory in 42 years. This is also a chronicle of all that could go and did go wrong in the sixties. I knew of these various groups at the time, especially when living in California, but stayed clear of them. I focused on one sane teacher (without religious affiliation, but a teacher of Jung, world philosophies, and meditation), one strong marriage, and a sense of self-protection even during my most experimental times. Your Jim ended on a high note with the Dalai Lama. I first met the Dalai Lama in 1979 and saw him many times between then and 2008, although I never became a card-carrying Buddhist or member of any religious group. The Dalai Lama is a positive force in this suffering world. I’m grateful he’s done so much in recent years to help the Tibetan nuns and give them opportunities.

    Your story makes me grateful for my own brother Jim who died in April 2016. He lived 8 hours away by car, plus we now have cell phones and free long distance. He didn’t share my spiritual or psychological interests, but respected them. He devoted his life to public health and teaching. He could be distant and felt he had to be a hero for his wife and children, but in time he understood that I didn’t want his heroic stance or to be entertained. He allowed me to simply be with him in the hospital or at his home. In this little world, he shared his beliefs and dreams. Like you, I miss Jim.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      My brother, Jim, was an intellectual. I’m sure he would have enjoyed talking to you. Finally, when I went into therapy, we had LOTS to talk about. He too had bottled his anger at our family, so he was impressed with my anger work… learning to get my anger out and how to appropriately express anger. It has been too long, but I think Jim followed Jung too. I attended one of the Dalai Lama’s presentations in Seattle a few years ago, so that is my only contact with the Dalai Lama, other than reading some of his books. I nearly cried through the entire presentation as I was thinking of my brother. I’m sorry your brother passed away too. What did he die from?

      Now, I live in Kingston, Washington. Are you still in California?

      Thank you for reading my story.

  15. Gwen, as soon as I began reading, I realized I’d read this before not long after my own brother died. When I asked in your comment on my blog if you’d written about your brother, I didn’t remember. Thank you for this beautiful piece. It’s even more moving the second time through.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Thank you Elaine, for your kind words. As you know, it is difficult to lose a loved family member. Jim and I were friends and supported one another through the family issues even though our interests were so different.

      You were lucky that your brother lived so much longer. You were lucky to be able to spend time with your brother in the hospital. I could not afford to fly back to Hawaii, but at the same time I didn’t want to remember him on death’s door. I do wonder if I can remember more about my brother, but I think my memories are more about the crazy stunts I used to pull on him. Hold on to your memories of your brother and treasure them.

  16. Beautiful, heartfelt writing! My heart rose and fell in equal turns. I know I’m many years late Gywnn but thank you so much for sharing your brother Jim’s incredible life story. I had read your replies on Jeanie’s blog and wanted to read the story you mention so have wandered over. Being the only gay one in my family, I resonated deeply. Warm autumnal blessings, Deborah.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Deborah, Thank you so much for leaving a comment, as it truly touches my heart. My brother was dear to me, and I miss him so much. He has been gone 26 years now.

      I truly hope that your family has been accepting and supportive of you. We need to be acknowledged for what is in our hearts and how we act as people. I hope life is treating you well. Thanks again for stopping by to read about my brother and our lives. I do appreciate you!

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