“It was a Sunday morning in the Castro. We were having brunch at Bagdad Cafe …

“It was a Sunday morning in the Castro. We were having brunch at Bagdad Cafe …

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“It was a Sunday morning in the Castro. We were having brunch at Bagdad Cafe and noticed a couple who obviously didn’t belong. They stood out even if they had been tourists. We were serendipitously seated next to this couple. When my food came, the woman asked what I had ordered which led to some small talk and finally on to real conversation.

They were in town visiting their son Raymond who was dying of AIDS. Thelma, his mother, said that he’d been in the hospital over three months and his friends had dried up. Thelma and Ray, his father, had a large family but the family had tired of making the five hour drive to visit. They were left alone to tend to their dying son. Abandoned by friends and family.

My husband and I thought it was nonsense for this little trio to be left alone. We could offer something of great value with little effort to us. So we began visiting a couple of times a week which grew to daily visits. We would offer Thelma and Ray breaks to go out to dinner or just a nap back at their hotel.

The days turned to weeks and finally months. We spent many hours talking with this family. They were an Evangelical family, strict in their faith and in their greatest time of need, two gay men ironically came to the rescue. We were all a devastated microcosm of a real family. Our beliefs didn’t matter. Just Raymond.

Raymond finally passed. Thelma and Ray asked me to deliver the Eulogy. But, it wasn’t just about Raymond. It was about his mother and father. We might have been “enemies” in another situation who called a truce (as Christ’s example) to minister to the sick and ailing. We held on to each other to comfort their son and ourselves. We believed only in unconditional love during that time.

That fall, the family invited us to Thanksgiving dinner. We drove down and brought a bouquet of white roses with a single cardinal red rose, Raymond’s favorite.

In Raymond’s death, he brought some unlikely people together. He ministered to us as well and always referred to my husband and I as his mother’s “gay friends.” Love was all that mattered to us during this time.” — by Cosgrove Norstadt 📸 Crawford Barton #whatisrememberedlives


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