portion of the artwork for Patricia Parkinson's stories

Patricia Parkinson’s Comments

The story of “Tiny Red Fish” is based on the last summer I spent driving with my father to Manitou Lake, often referred to as the Dead Sea Canada, and crossing, as the story says, the endless flat land.

This story marks the second-to-last time I would see my father again as we were not reunited for 15 years.

However, the relationship I later formed with my father in my mid-twenties, when I had my children and the need to connect to family increased, is one of the most significant relationships of my life.

My father passed away in 2008.

Our relationship became that of respected friends. He was, and is, my mentor, and there is not a day that goes by that I do not miss him.

Also, it’s important to say that the relationship I have with my stepmother is another very valued relationship in my life. She has come to be my trusted friend and confidant, and I love her very much.

* * *

“Giggly Girls” is a story for all women who, for whatever reasons, are staying in abusive relationships. These women live secret lives of shame, and I’ve come to realize that perhaps the best we can do as friends is to listen without judgment, to love them, as we love our families and all those close to us, to love them forever whether or not we understand their choices.

Truthfully, if the situation in the story were reversed and I was the Joanna character, a cancer survivor with both breasts cut away, I cannot say for sure that I would leave my husband. I do know that I would want to have someone, even just one person, who I could talk to without fear of judgment and disapproval.

* * *

A reader made a comment that the story “The Night Before the Last Night of the Year” reads more like a love letter to a child than a piece of fiction, and, in some ways, this is true.

Of these three stories, this one is the closest to being a creative nonfiction account of my nearly three-year journey of becoming a mother to a transgender.

I did not fully realize that when my teenager (now called Benton) first came out as a transgender, I would feel strong grief over the loss of my daughter, Helaina. With a simple haircut, I said goodbye to my daughter forever. From that moment, my Helaina was gone. So, on the night before the last night of the year, I wrote this piece, and it helped me let her go.

In trying to console me, friends and family, even my doctor, said, “How can you feel the loss when it’s the same person?” But Benton is not Helaina. Benton will readily admit that pretending to be Helaina caused him many years of pain.

My son Benton is now dedicated to raising awareness of those of us who suffer from gender dysphoria, and the years-long, challenging, sometimes agonizing, process of transitioning into becoming one’s truest self.

I am proud to be Benton’s mother. I was proud to be Helaina’s mother.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 45 | Spring 2015