Gina and Katie - the Journey Continues

Gina and Katie - the Journey Continues

by Andrea Lena DiMaggio
If we could remember
The moment of our birth
We give our voice
To songs and whispers
And know what life is worth

They lay in bed, holding, hugging, kissing after a long day apart, as most couples usually have. Gina asked the question once again; true to form, her first question regarding the decision was always, “Are you sure?” This time, the question was asked and answered several times already, and the decision had already been made. It was her way of letting her spouse know that she supported the decision entirely, as if to say,

“You did this for me as much as for you; I agree, and I want you to know that I’m not only okay with it, I embrace it as well.”
So once again, “Are you sure?” was asked, but quickly followed by, “If you say,’ as ever was,’ please be sure to add, ‘darlin’ to it.”

“As ever was, no. Not at all, but as sure as anyone can be about something like this, my sweet darlin’ wife,” which produced a broad beaming grin from Gina.

This scene might have appeared somewhat odd, perhaps, to some; but the two of them were comfortable. Gina lay in bed, her hand propping up her head as she ran her finger’s through her husband’s blonde hair. She was clad only in the top satin sheet, draped over her more because of the cool but restful breeze that came through the bedroom window than by any sense of modesty. She was entirely modest in the proper context of course, but here, in the marriage bed next to her lover there was no need.

Her spouse’s attire, however, would likely appear odd to some, appearing quite attractive in a long black nightgown with a lace bodice and spaghetti straps. Perhaps needless to say, while some might feel uncomfortable seeing Gina’s husband clad in such a manner, Gina was entirely comfortable and even glad for the appearance her husband had recently assumed.

Their ongoing questions regarding Ben’s “sister” Katie, his alter-ego, were more and more a part of conversation, but less in regard to the decision and more in which manner the decision had been implemented. Katie was spending much more time in “their” bed with Gina, albeit with Ben’s “attributes” if I may be so bold.

Suddenly there's beauty
In pieces of the past
And sorrow clings to angry questions
The days of dust at last

Gina was understanding more and more of how much a product of her past Katie actually was, but in an entirely new way, appreciating that it was a blessing; a good thing that God had done in Ben through the pain of abuse and neglect. As someone once told me, which I believe to be true for myself as well as Katie and others, “she was born for all the wrong reasons but grew up for all the right ones.”

Wanting to be as affirming as possible, Gina asked another question, which garnered the same answer she had heard the previous five times she asked, or rather stated, “It’s such a big step,” which was the understatement of the year.

Katie turned to her and kissed her suddenly and hard, quite amorously in light of the innocuous manner of the moment, but said quietly, softly with her endearing brogue,

“Since I was able to keep everything that my precious God gave me at my birth, I don’t mind that we’ve added anything, do you?”

Gina had struggled with her feelings until she realized that she never stopped loving her husband; she just realized that the man she married; the one person in the world she had trusted her life with; the one she had fallen deeply and irrevocably in love with was more woman than she had known, in a manner of speaking. Her conflict arose more from how she saw herself and what she felt about her own beliefs.

While she would never begrudge anyone their own choice, really understanding that more than some, she was committed to being married to her husband, and not a “wife” per se, and was entirely glad that Katie had decided to remain “intact.” And her conflict regarding every other manner of her husband’s transformation had dissipated when she recognized that apart from her obvious change in appearance, Katie was still her husband. In a manner of speaking, Ben hadn’t gone away at all, but the entire person Gina had loved from the very first meeting had become more integrated, and Ben and Katie were now whole, as it were, with Katie’s name and appearance being the persona both she and Gina had decided was best for them.

If we could remember
The power of the light
That cripple prayers
Are sometimes answered
And hope survives the night.
And hope survives the night.

Ben’s compassion and caring and understanding was completely and wholly still a part of the person they were becoming. In a sense, there was much more gain than loss, as some might have seen it. The only significant difference that was irretrievable was that Ben would no longer be playing rugby with the boys on Sundays, although many of his teammates had already accepted the change and continued to be friends to them both. The ones who either didn’t understand or accept Katie had never been close to Ben anyway, so it was more to their detriment and loss than Ben’s.

Remember, remember

“I remember you said one thing a long time ago that I’ve been thinking about recently, and I’ve come to the conclusion that you were wrong; entirely mistaken, my dear; I’m sorry, but that’s how I feel.” Katie said this while nibbling on her wife’s ear, almost in a brand new way, purring slightly.

Gina looked shocked. Ben had rarely disagreed with her, and Katie now as well, owing mostly to the fact that they were so attuned to each other, and they almost always were “on the same page,” as they say.

“And what could I possibly have been wrong about?” She wondered what she could have said or done in the past that was just now becoming important enough to bring up.

“You said, after finding out about and falling in love with me,” Katie put her hand on her chest, indicating “Katie” as opposed to Ben, “that one benefit of it was that we could share outfits.” She laughed softly, her voice becoming more feminine, not out of practice or effort, but rather just a natural change occurring in a rather pleasantly surprising way.

Gina was shocked again, and was about to say something almost rude when Katie looked her in the eye and abruptly kissed her again before adding,

“You are the most attractive gorgeous and sexy woman on the face of the earth, and I could never do justice to anything you wear, even with my change.”

Gina looked at Katie and smiled, almost in an impish manner before kissing Katie back and saying in her own, ersatz brogue,
“Tis true, tis true, darlin’. But you’re still beautiful in my book. Let’s just see how we match up, shall we?” She threw off her sheet and in an instant had leaned over and pulled the nightgown off of Katie.”

“I think we match up just fine,” she said and she leaned over and turned off the light.

“Yep…we match up just fine!”

Remember, Remember

If We Could Remember — Jerry Goldsmith and Paul Williams
From the Sum of All Fears sung by Yolanda Adams

Looking Back; Looking Forward

She gave me life and taught me to live
She gave me love and taught me how to give
she’s the greatest example of courage I’ve known
and I hope she is proud of the seed she had sown

Katie sat in the driver’s seat of the van, looking out the window. She was dressed in a modest skirt suit and blouse, wanting to keep the moment reverent in a way, but at the same time pay her respects to the one who gave her birth but also encouraged her second birth. Gina held her hand as they both wept, knowing how painful but necessary this moment was. The rain had let up just a little, and they exited the van and walked the path to where the gravesite was. Twin headstones marked the plot, the first much older, but decorated by God in a sense as the stone had been covered in a nice moss.

“Mary Grace Kelly; 1957-1997; Loving Mother.”

Katie remembered the day of her mother’s burial and how she had made sure that the headstone had a nice carving of an angel and pansies, her mother’s favorite flower. She had been to the gravesite only once since her mother died, her “brother” attending each anniversary instead. She looked at the other gravesite.

Sean Michael Kelly, 1946-2010, Luke 15:11-32, Finally Home”

Katie looked at her father’s grave, thankful that he had changed with time. But she remembered to a time that only God’s grace could have carried her through.

And all of the times she held my hand
then the world was too big for her little man (and my problems were grand)
and when I was weak she would fight in my stead
and when I was weary she cradled my head

"You want to know somethin', you fookin’ bastard...You’re just like your mother. She's a whore, and you take after her, you little fairy." The words always hurt; his father was as cruel as they come, but it hurt Ben more to hear his own father put down his mother. The physical abuse he could handle; he always found a place inside himself when his father beat him, but to hear day in and day out the cruel taunts by the one man he was supposed to look up to. And it was worse for his mother, since she'd been dealing with this horrible behavior long before he was born. She married her husband when she was only seventeen, and he was twenty-eight; a success in Ireland and still more successful since they had arrived in the US only months before.

Ben felt lost; he had no friends to speak of, and his life at home; well, miserable would have been a gross understatement. He'd just turned fourteen, and had little to look forward to in any way. He remained a good; no, a great student despite his hard life, a testimony to the love his mother showed him and the encouragement she tried to provide. It was this, more than anything else that hurt; how could his father treat someone so precious and kind as his mother like he did? What did he have against her? Ben would learn years later, through his mother's family, that his dad was treated worse by his own father than he had ever treated Ben, if that were possible, and the family was almost glad for his "improvement" over Ben's grandfather.

Like a lot of boys his age, certainly nowhere near most, but more than a few, Ben was small of stature, and he resembled his mother enough to evoke the cruel taunts, not only from his classmates, but his daily put-downs by his dad. And like some boys, not a lot, but more than a few, he was faced with an opportunity that arose perhaps out of nowhere, but more likely providential. Some might disagree, but things happen for a reason, and Ben was about to discover something about himself that would come as a surprise to him, but didn't surprise his mother at all.

Ben was like a lot of great kids; he tried his best to be as helpful as possible. Since his father had never taken the time to show him how to do anything, all of his efforts at things that boys are "supposed" to do were mostly failures, with the few successes rewarded by even crueler taunts. And his help for his mother was always successful, so he received mocking and disdain for that as well. Undaunted, he remained determined to do as much as he could for his mother, whose health had been poor for the last year. He did the laundry every day, trying as much as he could to relieve her of the burden of all the work at home, especially since she was ill (He would learn later, much later, that she never told him just how sick she was).

He had the basket of laundry when he entered his room. He was feeling especially down on himself, and I suppose he was vulnerable. He really hadn’t meant at all to try on his mother’s dress, but the fabric was so pretty and he was not feeling at all good about himself; his father certainly had seen to that. In all honesty, when his father wasn’t drinking, he wasn’t even all that bad to be around, but his good times did nothing at all to compensate for his bad times, and his treatment of both his wife and son were inexcusable, and sadly had created an irreparable break between him and his family. Perhaps Ben was identifying too much with his mother at that point; it might seem that way, but honestly, he might have dressed in his mother’s clothes even if he did feel good about his male identity; boys sometimes do that even when it’s just boredom or curiosity that leads them that way.

I was shielded and guarded by the power of love
and all of the good things a mother’s made of
and all that I needed she gave me each day
and I know it’s a debt I could never repay

Ben’s mom almost always knocked on his door when she wanted entry; “Dinner’s ready,” or “Your magazine came in the mail,” come to mind. Every once and a while, though, she might enter unannounced, not expecting anything out of the ordinary. She opened the door to his room, planning on handing him his new rugby magazine. Instead of finding her son, she instead found a rather cute looking young lady with short blonde hair sitting on Ben’s bed, preoccupied with the music emitting from the headphones of her walkman. She looked at the girl and her eyes widened in recognition, but not amazement, as you might expect.

“Excuse me, miss,” she said. “Would you mind telling me why you’re sitting on my son’s bed wearing my dress?” She said this playfully, knowing full well to whom she was speaking. Ben looked up and saw his mother standing next to the bed. She had adopted a mock-angry look, but he missed her playful smile and burst into tears, mostly out of shame and guilt and not just a little embarrassment. She immediately placed her hand on Ben’s shoulder and leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, tasting the salt of his tears. She grabbed his hands and lifted him up off the bed and hugged him.

God knows she’s had more than her share of pain
she still looks for the rainbow each time it rains
and if I could write Webster’s definition of love
it would only say, “Mother, a gift from above.”

“It’s alright, darlin’ I’m not upset. Just be careful to wear a slip the next time, it’s the ladylike thing to do.” She kissed him again, but his tears flowed almost like a stream down his face. “Honey, Ben…it’s all right. Don’t cry.” You may remember a time like this in your life; not about dressing in your mom’s clothes, although that might evoke some memories as well. You may remember the time or even several times when someone told you it was okay and not to cry? And you cried even harder? Ben fell at his mother’s feet and embraced her, holding on to her legs, sobbing almost uncontrollably.

With the softest, most precious dearest voice he ever heard, his mother said, “Ben, I love you. Don’t worry….it will be our secret. Daddy doesn’t need to know, and as long as you don’t do this out there,” she said pointing to the door to his bedroom, “everything will be okay.” His sobbing subsided as she stroked his hair and cooed an old lullaby in his ear. She wanted him to feel safe, not like a baby, but to help him remember back to a time when there wasn’t any yelling or hitting or cursing.

“So, what’s your name, precious girl of mine?” She didn’t sound condescending; she really wanted him to tell her the name he had chosen; she knew in her heart almost before hearing, but she smiled and waited for his reply. He started to say “Her name is,” but she quickly but gently shushed him with a finger to his lips.

“No, my sweet girl,” she said with another smile, “What’s YOUR name?” Almost magically, but really a wonder produced by his mother’s unconditional love and acceptance, a transformation of sorts took place as Ben was replaced by a shy, soft-spoken teenage girl, who replied softly with a charming brogue,

“I can’t think of a nicer name; after my mother? And I expect your middle name is Agnes?” As I said, she had anticipated the name, no magic or mind-reading. Her mother was probably the sweetest woman you would say you ever met if you hadn’t met her first. The girl nodded.

“Well, Katherine, I expect we can have a lovely afternoon together. Your father called to say he would be home late (home late being his words for out drinking and carousing) so we can just put on a pot of tea and have a nice chat, would you like that?” She nodded again and her mother said, “If you don’t mind, I think I rather like callin’ you Katie, would you like that?” Katie liked it so much she burst into tears and hugged her mother as if she would disappear if she didn’t hold on.


When I’m faced with life’s troubles she makes them her own
while she’s had to bear all her crosses alone
and if it’s not enough to do all that she can
than she’d lay down her life greater love hath no man

It would be lovely and wonderful and such a nice story to say that their times continued and their relationship grew. The relationship grew, but the times grew worse. Ben’s dad was just as cruel if not worse as the years passed. When she wasn't taking care of her mother, which was nearly a full time job in addition to school and everything else, Katie had her moments of refuge, listening to nice music, dressed in her mother’s loveliest dresses, but by herself most of the time. Sean Kelly continued to thrive in his business even as his marriage and his relationship with his son died a slow death, fueled by indifference and his selfish behavior. Mary Grace Kelly died just a few weeks after Ben’s seventeenth birthday. By then, Sean Kelly had abandoned his wife and child for another woman and had moved out west. Kind aunts and uncles saw to it that he was cared for and prepared as he went off to college the following fall, And Ben “took” his sister with him. She was a part of his life all through school and even back to Dublin for grad school before he returned home. And of course, you may recall that led to meeting Gina, marrying and settling into a life of love and hope and eventually to where Ben and Katie had recently become one person, complete and whole, by the love of her wife and God’s grace.


“It’s okay, honey.” The words startled Katie, so much like Ben’s mother’s words that fateful day, but uttered by Gina to Katie instead. Gina grabbed Katie and held her, the two of them crying over the sad waste of Sean Kelly’s life, but the happy conclusion that brought hope and joy through reconciliation as Sean had made peace; both with his child and with God. And for the first time in her life, perhaps in an altogether spiritual way, Katie felt somehow some way, her father finally accepted and was happy that she had turned out just like her mother.

“I’m glad for you, Daddy,” Katie said, and she was. Even after all the pain and sorrow Sean Kelly had caused his wife and child, it was miraculous but not surprising to Katie that her father had changed before his death. Katie had prayed every single day from the time her father abandoned her and her mother to the day she received Sean’s letter of remorse, as it were, for restoration. With the past finally and truly behind, Katie was ready to begin her new life once again. It wasn’t interrupted, per se, since she existed in some manner since she was born just after Ben’s fourteenth birthday. Gina had encouraged her to continue with her counseling, even as she was adopting her feminine persona fully and gladly. Ben was still a part of her, he would always be, but this is what she and Gina wanted, both for themselves and perhaps for the next generation of the Kelly family.

Now that when I’m grown with my own little ones
It will clear up for me all the things you have done
and I thank God each day for all that you do
and for all that I am I will always love you

The Gift — Words and Music by Donal O’Shaughnessey

I wish this story were true for some of my dearest sisters here, that someone will love them and accept them the way Katie's mom accepted her; the way God accepts her as well. It is not only a wish, but my fervent prayer. As someone dear to me said, May You Have ALL the Blessing of today...It's a brand new day! Time to be reborn!



Just a nice quiet afternoon of utter abandon and intimacy
between two lovers....


Speak softly, love and hold me warm against your heart
I feel your words, the tender trembling moments start
We're in a world, our very own
Sharing a love that only few have ever known

Wine-colored days warmed by the sun
Deep velvet nights when we are one


Speak softly, love so no one hears us but the sky
The vows of love we make will live until we die
My life is yours and all because
You came into my world with love so softly love




Wine-colored days warmed by the sun
Deep velvet nights when we are one



Speak softly, love so no one hears us but the sky
The vows of love we make will live until we die
My life is yours and all because
You came into my world with love so softly love

Hope you enjoyed the break as much as Gina and Katie!

Speak Softly Love from the movie The Godfather
Instrumental arrangement by Mantovani
Words and Music by Larry Kusik and Nino Rota

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