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Finding Sex Partner Lake

A Letter To My Three Children I Lost

Introduction - I know that is a strange title for a book, but I did not know how else to express it. This is my legacy to you, my biological children. This is not only your parents' life story, but the story of your beginning as well. By now each one of you probably knows you were adopted, and maybe you know you have siblings. It is possible, considering the location of your foster homes that one or all of you have met and kept in touch with your biological mother. One or all of you may know her version of the story of how you got to your adopted families. I wish for you to know my side so that you have all the pieces to make your own judgments from.

The following will tell you of my childhood, growing up, victories and mistakes and how my faith was tested time and time again. My hope is that all of it will help to point you to the one who gives us life. For I know that you were brought into this world and placed into the care of the people that raised you for a purpose. Hopefully they did a better job than your mother and I did. The one thing I want you all to know is that I never stopped loving you. The other thing I hope is that you all know of, and love each other.

Chapter 1 - The Father: Charles Paul Bell, Jr.

On the fifth day of July in the year 1954 I was born Charles Paul Bell, Jr. When I was only four years old my parents divorced. My father was a good man, but he was a womanizer. The divorce was in February 1959. Shortly after that my parents had a brief reconciliation and my brother, Donald Arthur Bell, was born on March 29, 1959, after the divorce was final.

Our mom, Minnie Louise Wildt Bell, was raised in Nebraska by a Presbyterian father with a German background, William Arthur Wildt, and a Christian Scientist mother with a background in the English and the Pawnee tribe, Elsie Venner Walton Wildt. Minilweez (Mom's nickname, shortened of Minnie Louise) broke the buggy whip (punishment device) over her mom's head at the age of 19, left home and moved to San Francisco, California. That was in 1939. In S.F. she drove forklift and carryalls for the Navy. After the war, she began working at Western Union as a teletype operator.

Our dad with a Scottish/Irish/English background, Charles Paul Bell, Sr., was a sales manager for Western Union and part-time bartender for McCarthy's in San Francisco. His mother, Ida Mae Bell was a Jehovah's Witness. I don't know much about his father, Charles Bell, but I do know my father had someone called 'Grandma Rosie'. Her name could have been Rose Barlowe, or something like that, I'm not sure. In either case, his mother lived in Rialto, California. My uncle, Dad's brother, was Trevor Bell and lived in Upjohn, California, near Rialto and Pasadena. He was married to Vietta. They eventually moved to Citrus Heights, California, near Sacramento.

In April of 1946 our mom and dad were married in Joplin, Missouri. (I think Dad's family has roots there, but I'm not sure) They came back to San Francisco and lived in several flats and apartments there until they bought the house at 24 Portola Avenue in South San Francisco, three cities south of San Francisco. The year was 1948. We lived in that house until my brother sold it in 1985 or 1986, after our Mom died.

After the divorce Mom continued to work at Western Union, but to augment her income she started as a waitress at a night club called the Melody House (later changed to the 16 Mile House). I'm not sure what Dad did for work after that. He probably continued working Sales at Western Union and as a part-time bartender at McCarthy's, but I do know he lived in San Francisco with Bonnie, someone that could double as Mom. Dad and Bonnie would go to the Gold Mirror (one of my parents' regular places to eat out) and the owner, Reno, would say, "Hello Mrs. Bell" and it would be Bonnie. I once found a snapshot of Bonnie and said, "Mom, you look great here." Through gritted teeth she informs me it is not her, but Bonnie. Oops.

There are two things to note here. One, I was not happy with my brother taking Mom's affection from me, so I hurt him every chance I got. What did he do in response? He idolized me for years. Along with this I acted up to get attention. I gave babysitters a bad time. So those who weren't bad on their own didn't stay because I was too much for them to handle. Even the church nursery couldn't tame me. Two, Mom loved us more than her life. So, with both of those reasons and the fact that she was a healthy 39 year old woman, Mom wanted a man to be a father and a husband. She would meet salesmen and truckers at work and bring them home with her from the nightclub and they would sit up and talk until we were asleep and they could have Sex. While they were talking, they were drinking. The man would always bring beer. Since Mom never developed a taste for beer and didn't want to feel bloated, she would always have bourbon. Highballs, dry martinis, crme de menthes and later screwdrivers, were her drinks of choice. The first two drinks I learned how to make were highballs and screwdrivers. Anyway, since this occurred every night, Mom's drinking increased under the guise of social drinking. Another thing to note is that Dad was the only measurement Mom used to measure men by, and none of them measured up. Mom stayed unmarried and in love with Dad through her death in 1983.

Also after the divorce I had problems in school. (I was still acting out) I had to repeat kindergarten because I couldn't settle. My coordination was off. I had "emotional problems affecting my performance". Today I would be classified as having ADHD. I was placed in a county program called Child Guidance, today called Children's Mental Health (no pussyfootin' around the name anymore). My counselor taught me things like how to moisten a dry sponge, fit blocks into holes, etc. I was put on Dilantin for blacking out (seizures), Dexedrine to make me more alert, and Phenobarbital to calm my nerves. I was on that cocktail until I got to eighth grade at the age of 14. Another patient of Child Guidance at the same time was the sister of one of my classmates. They happened to live three doors down from us. Mom and her mom exchanged antidotes and one day her mom accused her son of turning out like me if he didn't stop what he was doing. It is interesting to note that the boy in question was my age, almost to the day, was left alone outside every morning in diapers and usually ate breakfast at our house (because Mom had a soft heart and felt sorry for him), ended up leading a neighborhood gang, had wild parties at home and fought with knives and guns, died by a shot to the head. In contrast, I was raised to be home right after school or Mom wanted "to know the reason why", never joined a gang, was a homebody, became a Christian and loved life, had a few friends, am still alive and no one wants to kill me. Who turned out better?

The next day at school it was spread throughout my class and others that I was an M.R. None of us knew what Mentally Retarded was, but the one that spread the rumor believed that it meant someone who saw a doctor twice a week, like his mentally ill sister. To our five and six year old world being labeled that was a fate worse than death. Everyone saw you as 'different'. After that, for the next six years, I was picked last, picked on, and isolated. I began to live in my own world. I was curious about everything. I would try to help people to make friends and then demand their allegiance by controlling them. Needless to say I lost many friends.

One day the babysitter problem came to a head. I was almost nine years old. In one year we had gone through eight babysitters and there was none to be found. So, Mom asked for a furlough (time off). Mom's boss liked her and didn't like the situation she was in. He would help out whenever he could. His assistant did not like her and made it hard for her when he could. At this time her boss was on vacation and the assistant was in charge. He denied her furlough, so she did the only thing she could. She quit. She quit so that she could guarantee us a babysitter that would take care of us properly. She had been with Western Union for twenty years and could have retired in five more years (a fact she never let us forget later on). After that, Mom went on welfare and stayed home to care for us herself. I was eight for a few months more and Don had just turned four years old.

Soon after Mom went on welfare, in the same year, JFK was shot. Dad had visitation rights, but I guess he never came on the right day, so we did not see him often. Mom told us stories of how he would call for her to go drag him out of a bar and take him home. But on Saturday, May 2, 1964 he showed up, replaced Mom's bedroom window, worked in the tomato garden with me and promised me if anything happened to him I was to have his phonograph and the 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' 33" LP. He got paid the following week and did what he always did with his paycheck-went to Reno to gamble! He and Bonnie were on the return trip from Reno that a man named Gonsalez boarded and shot the pilot and co-pilot. The plane crashed over the hills in Danville. There were no whole bones to identify anyone. I was almost ten years old. Mom's cousin, Evelyn Yuleberry, from Martinez called and said she heard his name in the passenger list on the radio. We had started an inside painting project on the house. That project stayed in limbo for five years. (We literally continued painting the place we left off five years before, when we had heard the news) We had a memorial service in town. My sister, Shirley Bell Basham and her husband, Russell Basham, along with their two children, Russette and Wesley came up from their home in Glendale, Arizona. We all drove caravan style to Uncle Trevor and Aunt Vietta's house, near Pasadena, then on to Glendale, Arizona. My sister was driving our Rambler Classic, Her husband was driving my dad's Rambler American and Mom was driving the Basham's monster station wagon with power brakes! Lots of fun, that's for sure. We kids enjoyed the ride, the scenery, seeing our sister and her kids. The fact that Dad was gone didn't hit until later. I wasn't able to visit the site of the crash for 13 years. Mom had to, right away, to retrieve his belongings.

Shirley was Dad's daughter from a previous marriage to Jean, who later married Herbert Fender. My brother and I met Jean once when we had to stay with our sister's family for a while. She was very nice as I remember. Shirley had actually lived with Mom and Dad before I was born, during her high school years. I have pictures of her standing in the driveway next to the Studebaker Champion. I don't know why she was with Dad and not Jean, but she was. We talk occasionally and she also believes everything happens to accomplish God's purpose.

In early 1968, I was fourteen years old when we took a train to Nebraska for my grandparent's, Arthur and Elsie Wildt, 50th wedding anniversary. They had moved to Park Lodge Apartments in Wymore, Nebraska from their house and farm by the water tanks in Barneston, Nebraska, where Mom grew up. We had visited them at the house at least once that I know of, but my brother and I spent more time at our Uncle Arthur and Aunt Marie's farm in Home, Kansas. We loved the lightning bugs and the stray cats and a windmill that pumped cold water from a well, which you drank from a metal cup hanging on the frame. The farm had pigs, cows and horses, as well as chickens that produced lots of eggs, which we picked every day. As children we loved to play in the barn and watch all the birds and the animals. We used to feed the cows lettuce from Aunt Marie's garden and she would get mad at us and tell us not to. But that was when Grandpa and Grandma lived in their house and Grandpa, who used to spend every waking hour in his garden, would sit in his specially built rocker and make quilts on a tray across his chair. He made beautiful quilts too. This visit, however, was at the Park Lodge Apartments and we were there to celebrate two people being in love for fifty years. I have often wondered how they did it. Grandpa was a strict Presbyterian and Grandma was a very strict Christian Scientist and was very adamant about not being disturbed during her morning 'quiet time'. But they did and I know Grandpa waited on her hand and foot until he couldn't anymore and she had to do things on her own. Somehow they made it work and we were there to celebrate their success. It was great to see Mom's siblings and their families: Uncle Arthur and Aunt Marie Pike with cousins Leon and David, Uncle Carroll and Aunt Catherine Fuller with cousin Robin from Huron, South Dakota; Uncle Kenneth Omar and Aunt Velma Wildt from Alliance, Nebraska; Uncle Vernon Hill with cousins Leland, Charles and Dolores Hill and all the other cousins and second cousins from Lincoln, Nebraska. Every time we all got together one or all of Mom's sisters would argue about who was going to do a certain chore and who did it last, 'Unca' Carroll would imitate Donald Duck, our cousins would get bored and look for more excitement and our Grandparents, being teetotalers, would comment on Mom's "special apple juice". But we all had fun and made it back home.

Veering off topic for a minute, if you look up the ancestors of James Schiele online you will find all the relatives I mentioned and hopefully begin your biological family tree. I'm sure some of the second cousins are still alive. Aunt Catherine placed Grandma in the Good Samaritan Home and everyone got mad at her for it. She split from Uncle Carroll and disappeared. Uncle Arthur, Aunt Marie, Uncle Kenneth are all deceased. Uncle Vernon was married to Mom's half-sister, Hazel Pearl. After 23 years marriage she died. I have met the cousins, Charles and Leland. Charles lived with us for a while. I remember a time he and his wife, Dolores and their children, Terri Lynn and Sherri Lynn and all of us traveled to San Bernadino or someplace else near Los Angeles to an amusement park or the wharf or something when I was around 12 or 13. When I research Mom's family tree I can find family all the way back to the 12th or 13th century. When I research Dad I cannot find his family past Grandma Ida, who is also deceased. Good luck to any of you that can. I always wanted to find the English, Scottish, Irish connection. I have always felt a connection with anything Irish or Welsh.

That September I started eighth grade. In sixth grade I knew I liked girls. I was impressed by the way they wore their hair, the clothes they wore, the way they talked, etc. In a way I was jealous because they were what I should have been able to be. I was always drawn to girls, not boys. I had nothing in common with them. Because of the M.R. thing I was still ostracized, so the girls just thought I was "cute" to have a crush on one of them.

The next year, 1969, in June, Grandpa Wildt slipped on some ice. He came back in and said he was fine and just needed to lie down. So he went into the bedroom, laid down and died. We flew back for the funeral, but things weren't the same and I made Grandma Wildt promise me not to die. Shortly after we came home Mom went into Kaiser Hospital for ulcer surgery. A girlfriend of Mom's from Western Union came to live with us while mom was there. Mom left food in the fridge and gave the woman money for extra. The woman and her daughter took over our lives. The daughter was spoiled and always had to be right. The woman had a boyfriend that moved in too. He could sure eat: large salads, big steaks, etc. The food ran out and the money too. No wonder. We took whole loaves of bread to feed the ducks at the pond in one of the cemeteries in Colma all the time. Mom wondered where all the money was going, but we had been threatened not to tell. They were mean to us and we were glad when Mom came home.

Sometime after September 1968, my junior high administrators decided I needed help with my homework, namely that I needed a supervised place to get it done. I probably had ADD or even ADHD and I would be distracted easily, but back then they referred to it as inattentiveness. So they put me in a remedial class that I had to be in until the end of high school. The teachers in this eighth grade class also helped me to see my importance in this world and to have confidence in myself. Before this I had begun to believe all the stuff everyone said about me. I was strange, stupid, retarded, or dumb. Either that or they told me to not talk about what I felt or liked. It was too stupid. The teachers reinforced the idea that I had feelings and opinions too and that they were just as important as anyone else's. I finally began to believe in that and exit my shell a little. Shortly after school started I met this guy in school and went to his house after school without letting Mom know. This was a huge no-no. On the way home I was thinking what I was going to do to avoid punishment. I finally decided to pretend to be on some drug that I got at school (slipped to me involuntary, of course). I tripped on the doorstep and stumbled, told Mom the story as we went into the kitchen. Mom asked me to get a Librium for her to take for her nerves. I saw this as an opportunity to change the subject and started shaking my hand with the pill bottle. All the pills flew over the sink and we started putting them on paper towels to dry. I must have thought this was only a temporary reprieve, because I started downing two pills at a time. I had swallowed twelve pills before Mom realized and stopped me. After that I went to sleep-for three days!! I started to come out of it and Mom said I actually fell asleep in a bowl of soup at one point. She was asking what I was on and who gave it to me. She thought that whatever I was given caused me to want to take her pills. This was one of the few times I fooled Mom. I was still enough out of it that I wasn't thinking right, but I did know something happened, and being the junior sleuth I was, I knew Mom would just mess up all the evidence and I had to throw her off the trail. I told her a boy in school that picked on me (I told you I wasn't thinking right) gave me a doughnut at lunch. Mom packed me into the passenger seat of our Rambler Classic and we went for a ride to the school so Mom could have it out with the nurse and vice principal. I was so out of it I couldn't come in. I was in the car and at one point I opened the door and started pounding the horn. That got results! I looked up into a sea of faces: the band teacher, the choir director, the shop teacher, the nurse, and Mom. They called an ambulance, but a patrol car showed up. I went for a ride with him to the station, then into an ambulance to the county hospital in San Mateo. I was there three weeks and taken off my "cocktail" that started earlier with Child Guidance. Two days in and I was fine. I met very interesting kids in my ward. Mainly those without family and acting out because of it to get anyone's attention. I was glad I had my mom.

My little visit to pediatrics didn't do Mom any good. The new head of Pediatrics thought it was her fault I took the Librium, so he teamed up with her social worker at the hospital and drew up a petition to send around our neighborhood for signatures. The petition stated there was not sufficient supervision in the home. A year and eight months after my hospital stay we were picked up from school and put into the county receiving home. We stayed there for two weeks, went to court and the judge ordered us to go live in Utah, where my sister, Shirley, from Dad's previous marriage and twenty years older than me was living with her husband and two children. Her daughter and I were the same age. I was turning sixteen in July, a month away, and she would be sixteen in September. Her brother was 13, three years younger than both of us, and Don had just turned 10 in March. We were to stay for the summer. During this time Mom had to work on the court's conditions, namely her drinking.

Living with my sister's family wasn't bad. It was actually fun. We stayed the summer and started school there, but soon had to go back. I was experimenting with my adolescent female desires and started smoking too, like Mom, who smoked menthol KOOL non-filters like a chimney. When we went back home the judge found no new allegations against Mom, so we went back home.

That year, 1970, I got mad at the neighbor next door because he threatened to shoot my dog, who constantly dug under the fence and into his yard. I threw a bottle, with a piece of wadded up paper bag soaked in the gas from the lawn mower stuck in the top and lit, into his backyard. The police came, Mom backed me up, and they left. In the morning my brother and I wanted to see if a fire would burn in a coke bottle with the cap on. After several explosions, the doorbell rings. Mom is still asleep (and wants to remain that way) and we know to tell whoever is calling that Mom is not home. An officer is at the door and we saunter out and begin talking to him, leaning against my mom's car! I have already told him Mom is not home. Mom yells out her window "what's going on out there". Officer asks who that is and brother says, "That's our mom". Oops! Officer tells brother to go get her; I go to follow and get handcuffed and placed in police car. I end up in juvenile hall for firebombing. With the help of my elementary school principal, I was released 24 hours later, but with a probation officer. He was cool and took us to basketball games and other cool stuff, but Mom was still drinking and there were times we avoided my PO. I can remember moving everything into my room upstairs and not coming downstairs except at night. We had an electric waffle iron/grill and an electric roaster oven upstairs, so we were all set. My PO was smart though. He followed us from school and got in. Photographers were sent for and we were sent back to the Receiving Home and Mom back to the hospital. Mom had more surgery, recovered and we were allowed to go back home. By now I had my stash of nylons and nightgowns that I wore to bed.

In September of 1971 I started eleventh grade. There was a new girl was in the remedial class the period before mine and my class time was her lunch period. So she would stay and read to us from a book. She and I got friendly and I had a real love for her. We were all discovering ourselves back then. (Drugs, Sex, religion, gender confusion, parents, parental abuse, etc.) So what happened to us wasn't much different than others, it just seemed that way to me. We spent more and more time together during the school year, but after the Christmas vacation there was a breakdown in our friendship and both our parents had set boundaries of 'hands off'. Part of the reason was from things she said about me to them. I was deeply hurt. My brother had been there and said he didn't know what I saw in her because she sure didn't like me. I felt hollow and empty inside. I found out later that she just said bad things about me because her dad was threatening her, but at the time I felt like a big emptiness had moved in and taken up residence. Thanks to a couple of neighborhood ladies, a Pentecostal church and Teen Challenge I accepted Jesus into my life and felt the emptiness go away. I started attending and involving myself in church and church activities. I sang in the choir, went to youth studies, listened to gospel radio and tried to live a godly life. We resumed things after September of the following year, my twelfth year, her eleventh year. However, after the end of my last year we said goodbye and went our separate ways. But, oh how I loved that girl. No one will ever know how much. She, however, did not have the same feelings for me. She liked me ok, but not that way. I found out later why. My pastor said the devil sent her to sway me from the path that Jesus wanted me to walk. I don't know about that. I believe there was a reason God allowed her into my life. To this day we are still friends and children of the Lord

I went on to start community college in September of 1973. I took data processing, health science, trampoline, psychology, and music. I had to ride two buses to and from, so I had ample opportunity to meet other girls, and I did. I met girls on the bus, in the library, cafeteria, and courtyard, everywhere. So much so, my mind wandered away from my studies considerably. Also, mom was still drinking. I had been to several Al-Anon and Alateen meetings and I knew I could not help her, just love her. She would wake up out of a sound sleep and yell for me and I would run downstairs to find her snoring. All of this kept me from focusing on my studies. I even ran into my high school love and began writing to her. In November of 1973 I dropped out of college and started looking for work. My first job was driving forklift and handling bill of ladings for a warehouse that handled pipe supports. I also learned a little Spanish. I had moved into the neighborhood group leader's home and rode with him to and from work. Mom kept kicking me out, then, beg me to come home and work it out as a family. Twice she did this and I moved back. My high school love and I were together just as before, but for a different reason.

I had made two one hour trips to see my love. Before the first trip she sent me a card telling me she had to tell me something about her I did not know, but nothing to lose sleep over. So, of course, I did anyway. I could not think of anything I did not know about her. I discovered later that I actually did not know a whole lot about her. On the first trip I asked her what she meant. She said she forgot. Then, before the second trip, another card said she had chickened out, but I had to force her to tell me this time. This time she did, and oh boy, it was a doozy. She just told me that before we get serious again she had to tell me that she had feelings of affection for girls. Woooeeee! I did not expect that! As a new Christian I went to my Baptist pastor and he said there was nothing in the Bible about homosexuality. There was a young pastor visiting that week and he gave me scriptures pertaining to that, and salvation. I made several trips to see her after that and God used me to pray with her and lead her to Him. I spent much time with her after that. She said, at one point, it was too much for her to deal with, so she went back to being lesbian. During New Years she wanted to talk to a Christian woman. All we could find was a Methodist minister. She said my love had to show love in the way God gave her to love and that; basically, Paul was a man and wrote Romans as a man. God did not write Romans anymore than he wrote my essays in school. Good point. Good, but confusing as hell. I was just drifting after that. I felt like everything I believed in was just shot down. After that I did all I could to help my love. I would travel with her to keep her safe, take her to meetings for lesbians, gay church, etc. Some nights I would not come home till late. One night I couldn't find my key, so I had to wake Mom. She told me this would not work and that I had to pack up and get out. I told her if she did this (the third time), not to ask me to move back, because I wouldn't. This was it. It was too. I stayed with a friend that night, which helped me find the city switchboard and a shelter for the following night. The shelter turned out to be a ministry house for a nationwide communal teaching ministry, its roots from southern California, but based in Oregon.

I joined that ministry, the Shiloh Youth Revival Center, Inc., on February 14, 1974. It was a very happy Valentine's Day. In July I went to the ministry school in Dexter, Oregon. It was called The Study Center. It became my oasis. I met many girls too. Some would say too many, but not me. Yes, I preferred their company to mine, so what? Anyway, it was considered a problem, a sin to be avoided. I was to turn away and force myself to fellowship with the brothers. Some of them were ok, but I was drawn to the sisters. I had so many girlfriends I didn't want to ever leave. The Lord was teaching me about how He works in a believer's life. I found many occasion to learn patience (something I learned you never want to ask for) tolerance, forgiveness, compassion and most of all Koinonia (the deep caring, sharing and devotion to each other-people that share something in common, communion, fellowship). The longing for that again is overwhelming at times. I had truly found something to build my life on. I laid a firm foundation of faith, trust, perseverance, patience, honesty, integrity, and love that even today helps me to stand in the face of adversity. I have a rock, an anchor, that cannot be moved, and neither can I.

I stayed in the ministry until I graduated and was sent out to be one of the staff of a house in Houston, Texas. I stayed there for a while, then went back home, to Mom. However, Mom was still drinking and doing all the things that drove me crazy before and I moved back into the Shiloh house I had started with in San Francisco, but not as staff. It seemed everywhere I went I got involved with one of the house sisters. Finally my house pastor suggested I go to South Lake Tahoe and work as a dishwasher. It would take me away from the sister (who still had to go to ministry school before thinking romance) and give me a way to help my mother financially because the pay was really good. So I moved to South Lake Tahoe, via the Sacramento Shiloh house. While at the Sacramento house I got involved with another sister (I was incorrigible). When I say I got involved with various sisters I mean we spent a large amount of time together and began to get serious about being together. There was never any Sex in the ministry unless between married couples. It just seemed everywhere I went there was always one that I would monopolize time with and get serious about. By the time I got to the South Lake Tahoe house the house pastor had convinced me to make another one year commitment to the communal ministry. I started washing dishes for the restaurants. For a short period I was a food prep student. I met a girl that would not let me go. I witnessed to her about the love of Jesus and she told me she had been a Christian, but fell away and wanted to come back. So I began to bring her back, and she began to bring me closer to her. Her name was Sally.

Chapter 2 - The Mother: Sally Jo Brasfield Mitchell

Sally was born July 2, 1958. She was a sister to Pam, Penny, Esther and Ray Jr. Her parents were Raymond and Beverly Alberta Brasfield. They all lived in Fontana, California until Sally was 6 or 8. Her parents split and he moved to Texas. Beverly split up the children between friends and relatives and went to find him and reconcile if possible. While she was gone Department of Social Services was notified and the children were picked up. By the time Beverly and Raymond came back Sally and Pam had been adopted by Charles Randall and Dori Mitchell. The Brasfields managed to find all the others, but could never find Sally and Pam. They even followed up leads that led them to dead ends. Finally resources forced them to stop. Sally and Pam were raised by the Mitchells. Charles, or 'Shorty' as everyone called him, was a fair man and a good father. At one point he did not agree with the abusive way Dori was punishing Sally and let her know. Finally they divorced and he continued to raise Sally and Pam by himself. At one point Sally met a man who was connected with a local low rider gang. His name was Fred and they went together for five years, with promises to marry some day. Pam married and had children of her own, a boy and a girl. After the five years, Sally became pregnant and she went to South Lake Tahoe to think about what she should do. She did not want Fred to marry her just for the baby and she did not want to raise a baby by herself. She moved in with some friends and began working at Harrah's, in the kitchen maintenance department. After we met I was placed on her team of dishwashers.

Our relationship grew more serious. Since she had a miscarriage the problem with Fred had been dealt with and soon we were shaking Mom awake in South San Francisco and telling her we wanted to get married. By this time I had been with Shiloh three years. On April 16, 1978 we were married and moved to Kodiak, Alaska to live. I had lived there in 1976 with Shiloh as part of the work program for the school. Times had changed. Work was not as plentiful. While there we lived in an apartment, a 10'X12' tent, a Quonset hut, a van, a camp trailer, a garage apartment and a crab boat. Jobs were scarce. She worked cashier at a pizza parlor and then later at a convenience store. I worked as a cab driver, then the warehouse of the convenience store and then for the other cab company. While at the convenience store Sally was pregnant and developed a urinary tract infection. After those jobs we both worked for a cannery. When she was too far into the pregnancy to work I got a job at the only hospital on the island, in housekeeping and soon became the floor specialist. Jobs did not last long because in Alaska there is a social security tax that the employers pay after an employee has been working for three months. The employers don't want to pay it, so in the beginning they find ways to set you up to be fired by three months. Luckily, the hospital wasn't one of them. However, when I lost that job, due to manipulative staff, we decided we had given Alaska our best shot and moved back to "the lower 48". My wife was still pregnant, we were living with her dad, 'Shorty' Mitchell, the ultimate divorced playboy, and it was April of 1979. By May we were living with Mom and Don.

Chapter 3 - The Bell Family of Five

Our first boy was born at Stanford hospital on May 14, 1979. We named him Charles Randall Paul. Charles (after me, my dad and her adopted dad), Randall (after her adopted dad), Paul (after me and my dad). Shortly thereafter we got housing in Martinez and moved into a duplex there. From there, we moved to an apartment in Antioch and after that a duplex in Pittsburg. I had been commuting to San Francisco to attend Control Data Institute. I was taking computer technology training. Two things happened that changed our lives. One, someone broke into Chuck's room and stole Sally's accordion. We called the police and were warned by neighbors not to continue talking to them. We didn't heed the warning, and not long after I was shot at twice during the commute home. Two, I met someone on my lunch break, went to his house and met his wife, three daughters, and son. Soon my wife and I visited them on a weekend and we became friends. They were encouraging us to move into the same apartment building with them and we did. By 1980 we were living in San Francisco on Eddy Street in the same building and both families had a "revolving door" policy for each other. Any of us could walk into the other's place at any time. We were like family.

As I said, Sally was adopted and only had vague memories of a larger family. She called 411 for her mother's number and made contact. There was a sister, Penny in Long Beach with her husband, Gale and daughter, Toni. A phone call resulted in them coming to San Francisco to visit. We went back to Long Beach with them. Sally was pregnant again. When we were ready to return because I could not have any more vacation time from school, we found out she was seven months along instead of the five months she was told in San Francisco. The doctor in Long Beach would not let her travel, so I returned to our apartment without her. We had decided to move to Long Beach, so I was to close the apartment, and move into Mom's until I finished school in November. So I did. Mom was in the hospital again and due home any day. Sally called to inform me all of them were on their way up. Their landlord claimed he did not receive the rent I mailed when I left Long Beach. Penny said she could fight it, but if they lost they would be moving at a more critical time for Sally and the unborn baby. So they were coming, and I had to think about where we were all going live. We all ended up in a motel room near Stanford Hospital. Then Raymond and Beverly, who were living in Missouri now had been contacted and we were invited to come live there.

On August 18, 1980 our second boy was born at Stanford. We named him Raymond Albert Omar. Raymond (after my wife's biological dad), Albert (after her biological mom, whose middle name was Alberta), Omar (after my uncle Kenneth's middle name). He was born preemie, so was incubated a week or two. When he was discharged, we made the trip to Missouri. So on the day we went to Missouri, we drove up to Stanford Hospital, picked up the newborn and drove to Missouri. It was a very harrowing ride. The harrowing part was this: Two sisters, two husbands, a thirteen year old, a one year old and a two week old all in one Ford Galaxy 500! The two sisters were bickering about everything, including mustard. The baby was screaming and the girl needed to go to the bathroom or eat often. While I was in high school I started to smoke cigarettes and stopped after I joined Shiloh. During this trip I started smoking again.

So we get there, only to find out we are two weeks early and the place isn't prepared for us. We made do. My wife, baby and their girl slept upstairs with the parents, and Chuck and I slept in the basement with the sister and husband. The first thing I did was go out with the husband and sister and look for work. At night my wife and I sat on the couch and listened to "the family" play four handed card games. My question of "isn't there a six handed card game?" went ignored. Finally, one night Chuck had a bad dream and was screaming. Usually when this happened nothing comforted him, so we would just hold him and let him scream. He had done this since the break-in. I had forgotten my cigarettes and was going back up to get them when her sister informed me I was not going to leave Chuck screaming down there with them. Her husband had to get his sleep so he could get up early, and that it was probably my fault Chuck was screaming. I saw red. I mean who did she think she was? Was she there after the theft? Had she sat with him night after night, holding, caressing, patting, singing, doing anything to calm him and stop his screaming? No, she wasn't, and what did that crack about it being my fault mean? I yelled right back and told her just that. She was inferring that I was hurting him in his sleep! Oh the nerve!! I was livid. We made so much noise my wife and her mother came down. I listened to her for a minute, and then started on her and told her that this was supposed to be a reunion, but that ever since we got here we have been made to feel like a fifth wheel. She asked my wife if she felt that way and she said yes. Her mother yelled for her husband, my wife's biological father, and told him to draw money out of the bank and buy us bus tickets back to San Francisco. So he did, with a loaf of bread, a package of bologna, a bottle of milk, and a can of formula. If it weren't for an 'angel' on the bus we wouldn't have made it. We had been in Missouri for only two weeks. That is why I call it "misery"!

We moved into another ministry house on Randolph Street in San Francisco. The ministry was called Gospel Outreach, and their ministry was patterned the same as Shiloh. We stayed there until we found an apartment back in the tenderloin. Our 'extended family' had moved to another apartment building, but there weren't any vacancies there. We finally moved into an apartment on the corner of Turk Street and Hyde Street. At the time the address was 381 Turk. Our building was next to the YMCA and I used to push Chuck in a toy car up and down their driveway. I started working as a bike messenger at the same job I had when I lived in the San Francisco Shiloh house before I went to the Study Center in Oregon. I finally landed a job in the mailroom at Chevron Shipping, through a temporary employment agency. I worked there long enough to be considered for permanent hire. Many things happened while we lived there. My wife had met my high school love and we bought a car from her. That car was broken into. Your mother and I had a fight so bad the police arrested me. I lost the temporary job while in jail. Then the apartment owner gets this bright idea to hire me as security for the apartment. One of my duties required me to collect, empty and return the garbage cans on each floor. At one time someone punched me in the right ear and perforated it for not taking the trash out fast enough. At some point, a CPS (Child Protective Services) worker threatened to take both boys away, stating conditions at home were unsafe. I had to ship my wife and the boys to Nevada, to her adopted mom, Dori, until the danger of losing them passed. While there Sally made up with her mom and they became friends. Dori was remarried and her husband was a long hauler. She was very grandmotherly to Chuck and Raymond during their stay. I was a basket case. I spent my time upstairs, with the maintenance man and his helper, drinking beer and playing 45s, all day and all night. I was fast becoming my alcoholic mom, and that is what woke me up. Finally the danger of losing the boys passed and I sent for them all to return home.

A vacancy came open where our 'extended family' lived and we moved in. The owner hired me as security and doorman. I worked days, my friend worked nights. I picked up their oldest daughter from school, and had all three girls, our boys, and a neighbor boy and girl every night after work. We would play, play house, clean house, watch TV, listen to records, roughhouse, whatever. We had fun. We lived in the tenderloin and there was no safe place for kids to blow off steam. Sally and the moms would go out and have their fun while I was watching their kids. On October 28, 1981 our first daughter and third child was born at UCSF Hospital. We named her Dori Louise Elsie. Dori (after my wife's adopted mom), Louise (after my mom), Elsie (after my grandmother). She was born with a cleft palate and had to be on a monitor 24/7. We had to learn CPR and how to regulate the monitor. Both of us had to be with her at all times.

As good as this sounds, it wasn't. Sally and I, with our 'extended family' had been going to Gospel Outreach, when we had a member of Church of Christ come to present their beliefs to us. The presentation left us lost and adrift. We stopped going to any church and started having more marital problems. He thought his wife was sleeping around, so he was going to do the same. Sally and I had started seeing a family counselor when we lived in Antioch and basically we talked about how we were going to handle my cross-dressing. I wanted to address my wife's shortcomings, but soon learned that wasn't going to happen. She refused to believe she had any. So that was one area we could not communicate. As we all know, or learn, if one area of communication is broken down, all areas are. Basically, she did her thing and I did mine. I could not talk to her and she did not try to talk to me. Except for the Sex, we did not communicate. She might say different, but that is how I felt at the time. Both of us were guilty of not trying, but remember, this was my first real relationship and I did not have a guidebook. Sad to say my best friends became the kids I watched. We talked about everything. Nothing was taboo. I had a closer relationship with a nine year old than I had with my wife.

Then I did something that haunts me to this day, and I still don't know why or what really happened. I thought I did, but recently I have remembered certain events that cause me to question my understanding of events during that time. In either event, I was convicted and did time. During that time Sally was pressured by family to leave me, had given birth to twin boys that were fathered by Fred and moved back with family. Grandmother Wildt, Uncle Kenneth and Mom passed away while I was in prison.

Chapter 4 - The Struggle, Loss and Emptiness

After my release Don picked me up and we toured Hearst Castle on the way to the family house in South San Francisco. I went job hunting and found a few. In fact, from October 9, 1984 until May 1985 I was a security guard (before my application was even denied), hot tub installer, 7-11 clerk, shipping & receiving clerk for heater controls, and kennel manager for a pet store. When I first arrived home the first person that welcomed me back was my high school love. She would come by and take me out every night for a week to restaurants that she paid for. I tried to reconcile with your mother, but she told me she wouldn't put up with my temper. After that was unsuccessful I had a fling with my high school love. I started attending a non-denominational church where I met a six foot tall Chinese man, who introduced me to another woman who had a physical disability. She used a manual wheelchair and wanted me to be her paid live-in attendant. She lived in her van and I did move in with her. She was 13 years over me, married to her high school sweetheart for 19 years until a very public four year affair split them up. They had two daughters, both living in the same area as her. Both were in their twenties. I started caring for her and she would help me with my legal papers. We got along great. We grew on each other and made a great team. I think I needed a mom and she needed to be needed. We were both Christians and equally involved with the church. (Something I learned the hard way was very important) Sally had informed me that she only told me she was Christian when we met to get me to stop witnessing to her and she really didn't believe in any of that garbage. (that hurt) My new friend and I shared church interests, her playing the piano/organ and me singing in choirs and doing lighting during play productions. We were happy.

In May of 1985 I lost custody of all three of you, thanks to the deviousness of your social worker at the time, and I have missed you ever since. The last time I saw you, Chuck was the day Grace took us to McDonald's before your 7th birthday she had me tell you that maybe I could see you on your birthday, knowing full well that I would not be allowed to see you after the court hearing two days before your birthday. I saw you, Dori, the same day. You were 5 and I was not allowed to tell you I was your Daddy. You let Oscar come out of the can for me, but not Grace. Later I heard from your mother's Auntie Faye that you came home and told your foster father that you did not have to obey him because he was not your father. I don't know if it was true, but it made me feel good to know you knew in your heart who I was to you. I never saw you Raymond after you were one years old. They had you in Marin, in a home for emotionally disturbed children. A visit with your counselor was scheduled to determine if I could visit you. Before I went Grace gave me advice that turned out to be bad advice. She told me to try to relate what your counselor told me about you with similarities in my own life. I did exactly that and your counselor wrote in her report that I was selfish and only thought about myself. She recommended that I not visit you as it would not be in your best interest. That was the end of that. Even my attorney couldn't do anything. Today you are all in your 20's and I miss you so much. I regret missing your growing up, making friends, becoming Adults. I have tried to find you many times, with no luck. I am hoping to get the money for a real investigation and find you. I want you all to know I did not stop loving you, especially to tell you, Chuck I did not lie to you about your 7th birthday, Grace did, and set me up to appear I did. I love you children very much and want you to know that. I missed all your lives and it hurts. I know you have loving parents that have been there for you and I wouldn't want to destroy that. I just would like to see you and reassure you I did not desert you and only had to let you go under duress. I will continue working toward that goal until I die or God shows me different. If I die, hopefully this book will be published you will have a piece of your heritage.

Chapter 5 - Releasing the Inner Me

Several things happened after I was forced to give up my rights to the three of you. I did not have the resources, or the legal support to fight the decision, so I decided to get my life in better order so I could. I began to concentrate on me; what made me tick; my anger; my passions; my fears; everything that made the person that was me, I analyzed. From this analysis a long-forgotten part of me emerged. I already knew I preferred wearing soft nightgowns to bed, and even I thought that was all it was - the clothes. I was very wrong. There was a deep part of me, the part that was my core, which knew there was something not in balance. I was repressing the essence of me because of my belief that to be the person inside was inviting more rejection than I already had. All this repression was causing a frustration that would build up, like a pressure cooker, until a substantial explosion would occur. For no reason I could name, the smallest thing would set me off. I was seeing a therapist at the time and he suggested a pressure-relieving tactic. He told me to go home and tell my girl friend I was living with that he wanted me to begin to wear the women's clothes behind closed doors at home until the next appointment with him. After this experiment I realized there was more to this than even I knew and I wanted to see where it would take me.

My job as kennel manager ended and my girl friend and I decided it was time to return to school. We started community college, had career tests taken and evaluated, found our niches, hers being accounting and business, mine being anything social, involving people. Interestingly mine came up investigator, pastor and nurse. The first two made sense. I had always been interested in investigation; I did it all the time in my private life. I had a desire the spread the gospel, so pastor made sense. The only one new was nurse. I guess with my experience with my mom, your mother, hospitals and all, I gained a talent for it. So, I went towards Nursing and she went for Accounting and Small Business.

We had moved into an apartment in Pacifica. My brother had met my friend's youngest daughter and moved her into the family house, then later sold the house and split the sale with me. I had $42, 000! I went nuts. I was going thru this change from male to female, since that is what was at the core of me. I paid for your mother's outstanding bills, new washer and dryer, loaned the tall Chinese man a little money, loaned my high school love some money, and spent $10, 000 on female clothes. While I was trying to learn where the best place to invest it, I spent the money and had nothing. Yeah, dumb. I know. Hindsight is wonderful, isn't it? It has 20/20 vision. Thankfully I have finally learned a little foresight. We moved into a two bedroom apartment to accommodate my high school love (who was fully lesbian by now) and her love mate. However, that relationship did not work and we found ourselves in a one bedroom apartment again.

Chapter 6 - Beginning over and Growing

While attending college we also started going to flea markets. My girl friend had two and a half storages and we needed to see what we could do to reduce it. Some of it got sold, but I think we found more than we sold. We kept at it, though. At one point we developed a vision of a business, consisting of a yarn shop, with several other businesses branching off of it. One of these other businesses would be a word-processing/desktop publishing operation that would be started first to earn enough to carry the yarn shop through the first year. The other businesses were flea market services, financial services, a help organization that would match the needy with helpers, and a transportation/delivery company. It was a great plan.

An interesting story comes to mind. It starts out sad and ends on a funny note. We had acquired a cat (Tomasina), when I was kennel manager, and a rabbit (Lady Elizabeth). Before the house was sold my brother had two big dogs (Spirit and Midnight), and I had bought an Alaskan Eskimo (Snowball). Tomasina and Lady Elizabeth always lived with us (in our one bedroom apartment). When the house was sold and I had bought Snowball all the dogs went across the bay, into the huge yard of my now ex-wife. That is until someone that my ex-wife pissed off released all of them into the street when no one was home. The only dog we found was Midnight. Later we got the termination receipt for Spirit. They actually wanted us to pay them for killing our lost dog! Unbelievable! We never found Snowball or my ex-wife's dog. Very sad. But we took in Midnight (into our one bedroom) and tried to hide the fact that we had a rabbit and a dog! We thought we were doing real well until we went to move to the two bedroom and they said the carpeting was all new, so we would have to get rid of the dog, but the cat and rabbit could stay. Oops! Guess we weren't so clever after all.

In January of 1988 my brother married my girl friend's daughter. They had moved across the bay, into a town home. We married in June, after my divorce from your mother. We moved to San Bruno and continued school. While there I began to evolve from Paul (the name I had been going by, like my dad, since I moved into Shiloh) to Paulette. I started wearing more feminine clothes, maybe a little makeup, and I began to think more like a girl. (Because this was new for me, I was more like a girl going through puberty, not quite a woman) I had a teacher that told me to continue showing the other students that life was not black and white; but made up of many shades of grey. I remember that. It has given me encouragement many times.

One dark spot here was when my second wife hit her change of life. There was bleeding from May to November, a D and C, and a hysterectomy. Unfortunately the result of the surgery was diabetes; on top of the arthritis in the knee and back she already had. We had to learn all about blood sugar testing and insulin shots. I was overwhelmed because we were also told this was a fatal disease. I was going to lose this wonderful person who not only accepted my cross dressing and transgender life, but encouraged me to be the best me and helped me do it where she could. I was devastated at first, but finally realized we have now and can make the best of it; and we did.

We moved to an apartment in my home town of South San Francisco. (I say it is a part of San Francisco that got cut off by a cemetery, since Daly City and Colma separate the two, and Colma is known for having the majority of its population under the ground.) The apartment manager was very friendly, fair, and helpful; not to mention, caring. We enjoyed being there. However, our time was cut short. The Financial Aid officer was accepting payoffs under the table and allotting more aid than was available. He split when the district began to find out what he was doing. They had another officer come in to do cleanup and gave everyone very low allotments. We did the best we could until we couldn't even pay the rent. The manager even carried us one month and was going to do it again. We told her no. We went looking for other counties to live where we could finish school. We had to find another district that did not have their Financial Aid program in a mess. We found De Anza College in Cupertino. We had also heard there was a church that accepted crossdressers in San Jose. So we checked them both out and moved to San Jose in the fall of 1991.

Chapter 7 - A New Life

While living in South City (SSF) I discovered a transgender club in San Francisco that met in back of a gay bar. I could not believe there were over five hundred like me in the Bay Area. Amazing; and exciting. I finally had others to talk to like me. I also found out I could go all the way: get my ID changed to female, change the birth certificate, and much more. By the time we moved to San Jose I had my name changed on my license to Paulette Paul Bell. The inner me was finally me!

My wife and I would let some of the crossdressers we met at the club come to our place to change for transgender events. Some of them had families that did not know, approve of, or did not want to see them crossdressed, so we provided a safe place for them to change.

We met all kinds. There were crossdressers; transsexuals that lived their inner selves 24/7; there were the exhibitionists that wanted to be extreme; there were gay men trying to pick up a good looking, passable crossdresser to have Sex with; and many more.

There was one crossdresser (CD) that did not pass well that took one look at me and fell in love. I was wearing a new outfit: a short black flare skirt and long sleeve light blue satin v-neck blouse. I think I wore a wig back then, too. Anyway, to him/her I was beautiful and immediately tried to pick up on me. I told him I was married and introduced my wife to him. They talked for a long time at the table and she said we should get him into Skyline College; and that is exactly what we did. I don't remember how his studies went, but I do know he spent time in the cafeteria, just taking it all in. My wife noticed that when we entered the cafeteria his eyes never left me. She was not impressed, but I was sort of intrigued. This guy was attracted to me as me (female) and I got a little thrill out of knowing it. I wasn't going to have an affair or anything, but a little flirting couldn't hurt, could it? Well, I did go out with him a few times, but nothing serious. It was just enough to feed my need to be the subservient one for a change. It was kind of nice. We moved to San Jose shortly after that.

In San Jose we lived in our van; my wife, Tomasina, Lady Elizabeth, and me. The pastor (who did not even know us) had given us a key and showed us where to find all the other keys and told us to make ourselves at home. We did. God love him for it. He fought the deacons, city code officers, neighbors, and others so we could have access to a bathroom and kitchen. We considered it home. My wife slipped on some water and fractured the leg above the knee that had the original injury. She had to have surgery to right the fracture. We were leaving the hospital and driving home when she started coughing up blood. Another trip to the hospital resulted in discovering a peptic ulcer. More surgery and we came home, with my wife minus a few organs and most of her stomach. She could not eat for a month and a half; only Ensure. Then we started with mashed potatoes. Finally she was able to eat solid food, but had lost 95 pounds. She always said it was great to lose the weight but she would not recommend the method.

I don't know where I got the referral to the Seahorse Medical Clinic and Joy Schaffer, probably the Tip Sheet for the Transgender club in SF (ETVC). I saw Joy and she prescribed the hormone regimen I would have to be on until I die. She also referred me to Valley Medical, the county medical system, to find a doctor to continue with there. I could not afford Joy all the time. I did find a wonderful doctor who has been my doctor since. She is always honest with me and tells me when I need this test or that test. I lucked out and I know it. To me it is another example of a divine presence

We spent our time at De Anza College going to classes, club meetings and events, studying for tests, homework, special projects, computer lab homework and I worked at the bookstore, taking refunds. We left the van at 8am, let Tomasina out, came back for lunch, let Tomasina in and fed her, let Sina out, came back at dinner, followed the same routine and at 9pm we would come out and Sina would be waiting with her tail up in the air, the tip curled to her head, and meowing, as if to say, "Where have you been? Do you realize how long I have been waiting?" or so it seemed to us the way she carried on. That was Sina, a very special orange person. I had taught her, with my wife's help, to walk on a leash in a harness. Sometimes I wondered who was walking whom, but we had fun.

Chapter 8 - Fair Time and Regrets

My wife was an expert needlecrafter. She used to say, 'Don't believe it, just ask me. If you still don't believe it, check out all my blue ribbons!' She was very gifted at it, though, and did have a wall full of ribbons. She taught me much that I will not forget. Her passion was putting entries in the San Mateo County Fair (which is where all the ribbons came from). Her goal was to make Sweepstakes one year. Sadly, she never did.

We did make a great effort, though. We would gather all the projects she already had, match them to the Fair's entry requirements, figure what she could still have time to make, and figure how much yarn, or whatever, she needed. We called it Fair Time, and it was crazy.

Just before Fair Time in 1993 I had to leave De Anza without my wife to attend a homecare workers meeting. It was something to do with the job I did for my wife, taking care of her and getting paid by the county. I went and met a woman in a manual wheelchair that had Cerebral Palsy. Her name was Anne. Her husband, Joe, was with her. I ended up giving them a ride to De Anza to meet my wife. We were invited to visit their home and park in their carport for the night. One night turned into a week and a week turned into many more. Anne was interviewing me for a book she was writing about disabled people in alternative lifestyles. Well, ours was certainly alternative. Fair Time was here and my wife was in a panic to get everything just right. Oh, and by now we had added Santa Clara County Fair to the mess. We now were doing two fairs, one after the other. Sometimes they overlapped. Anyway, during this time, my back was killing me from lifting boxes and boxes of entries; not to mention the usual lifting of a 160 pound wheelchair scooter in and out of the van several times a day. So my back hurt; and Anne said she was a licensed masseuse and she would like to make my back feel better. She wheeled into her bedroom to tell Joe. I heard yelling for awhile, then Joe came tearing out and told me he had just been 'handed his walking papers' and left. I stood there dumbfounded. I asked Anne what happened and she said he tried to tell her she could not massage me and she got mad. She told him that was the business she was in and he was not going to tell her who her clients were going to be. She told him to leave and took his keys. (I found out later that I looked a lot like a girl that had died that Anne had feelings for. Joe knew this and was not going to watch her fondle someone else.) So now I'm in a pickle. Anne is completely helpless to get out of her chair and go to the bathroom. Joe usually carried her in and out of the chair and to the toilet. Joe was gone and someone had to stay in the house with Anne. I consulted my wife, who had been in the van the whole time, and she said there was no choice; I had to stay in the house with Anne. (You can probably see where this is going) So I did. Biggest mistake of my life! (Or one of them, anyway) One thing led to another and I wound up in bed with Anne. (Yeah, I know, bad, bad, bad, bad!) Anne saw my wife yelling at me over the fair entries and all she saw was a woman that was demanding. She decided I could do better and told me so. Long story short, I told my wife I was going to stay with Anne. So I got my stuff and moved in with Anne and my wife left. Anne wanted to go to college and enrolled at De Anza. We saw my wife there all the time. Somehow Anne's uncle came by and met my wife. I guess he went to see her another time and got the lowdown on me. Soon he moved in with us and began to encourage Anne to work it out with Joe. So she calls him and tells him to come home. So now we have all four of us in one home, three in the bedroom and one in the spare room. Finally, one day I was asked to leave. My wife took me back, but things were never the same.

We still did the flea markets. We now had a 10 x 35 storage unit and planned to start our business idea as soon as my wife had all the degrees and certificates she could get. That wasn't what was to happen, however.

Chapter 9 - Forgiveness and Loss

Sometime in 1994 we finally found an apartment for the handicapped and began to move in. We had to empty the storage into the apartment in order to afford the apartment rent. The process was not going fast enough for the snooty neighbors and I had to step in and speed it up. All of sudden my wife was surly, acting like there was something wrong, but refusing to tell me what it was. She said if I could not figure it out, she wasn't going to tell me. It just got worse. I had no idea what it was. She complained about everything I did and if I did it different, that was wrong too. I was beside myself. It was miserable living that way. I was thinking maybe I needed to find a different situation. Then for Christmas I received a card from the crossdresser we went to school with in Pacifica. He said to call him. I did. Then I went to see him. I knew he was attracted to me, but I wanted to see if I felt anything for him. I found out I did. I guess the female hormone I was taking was starting to work on me in ways I was not accustomed to. I was actually attracted to someone because of his maleness and how he made me feel safe. So, once again I left my wife and moved in with him. We stayed in motels and hotels, until we finally found an apartment in Sacramento. It was real hot there in the summer and we were there just before that. We were also there just before Fair Time. My wife and I both knew this was the last year for her. Just before I moved to Sacramento with Larry she had a stroke and lost all she had learned. Just like that, it was gone. Now she couldn't even write out a shopping list. On top of that she could not find a homecare worker to take care of her. So she paid me to come down twice a month to do that. One of the trips was just before Fair Time and I wanted her to have that last chance for Sweepstakes. So I stayed and helped her get it ready. Thankfully, she was able to do the needlework. She did that and I did the rest. We talked. We cleared the air. Things were right between us again. The stroke helped her to see the problem clearer. Go figure! Meanwhile Larry, in Sacramento, got tired of the heat and moved back with his mom in Pacifica. I told my wife I was not even going to ask. She just smiled and said that while I was with Larry in Sacramento she had a dream (vision) where she saw me getting the news that Larry was back home and our relationship was over. God told her that Larry would dump me and she would have to take me back. She told God that she did not even like me very much and that if He wanted that to happen He would have to show her how to love me again. God told her to call and ask me to take care of her for two weeks in each month. So, that is when she called me in Sacramento. She knew beforehand! It blew my mind. She said after I stayed and we talked she began to love me again and wanted me to move back in with her. I cried, and took her with me to pick up my stuff in Sacramento. We got back, put the stuff in storage, returned the truck and took the bus home. We went to bed, woke up the next day, ate, and she was still tired. She laid back down and didn't wake until dinner. While we were eating and talking on the couch, making plans, she stopped breathing. The paramedics revived her and took her to the hospital emergency, where they lost her for the last time. We had been together 13 years. During our life together we were officers in clubs at school and transgender clubs, we were both senators at De Anza College in Cupertino, and active members of several churches. We went to events in all those, including cotillions, concerts, and trade shows. We had a blast. We did make the most of the time.

Chapter 10 - Gathering my Wits and Leaving Town

I was a basket case for two months or more. I didn't leave my recliner the whole time. Finally I got up and went out to the gay center. Twice I tried to find a woman to stay with me, to no avail. Finally I found someone at church to help me. Actually, I found four some ones. John and Tommy were staying at the church and moved in with me. John had a cousin, Linda with a little boy. They were going to help me pack up. I had to move and find someplace else to work. A quadriplegic in the complex needed a worker and I began to make the move. I was taking care of him while the others were trying to get me packed up. The manager gave me a deadline to move out and I was not out by then, so I was evicted and another friend of mine paid the daily rent so I could go in and finish unloading the apartment. After that, all I had was a small storage my wife and I had and it was in lien until a friend paid it up. Another friend introduced me to Sam. He lived in an RV and said I could move in with him. I told him I was not interested in another relationship just now, but I did need a place to get grounded until I could get my own place. He agreed. Sam was a carpenter by trade, but he had an accident and on workmen's compensation. While on this he was not allowed to work, so we scavenged recyclables (cardboard, glass, plastic, aluminum) during the day and either went out to eat or used the recycling money to buy food to cook dinner. After a while I acquired my job as clerk that I had before I went to Sacramento. I would work until 1pm and go with Sam to recycle. He was very good to me. At least one night a week we would go to a club and he would dance with me. He was very good to me and I felt special. After awhile I began to feel a little guilty that I wasn't giving anything back. So one night, when the opportunity presented itself, I gave. I hated it, but he had been so good to me, I continued to give. It wasn't until I wanted to go by myself to visit some friends that my wife and I knew that I knew I had made a mistake. All of a sudden he was controlling, accusative and suspicious. I even told him one night the only one I was having an affair with was him. Finally, I got fed up with the controlling stuff and took a Greyhound out of town. I lived on the street in Sacramento for a time until someone took me in while I was on a waiting list at Salvation Army. Then I stayed with a friend and volunteered for the No On Knight (Proposition 22) Campaign. I started as a volunteer in the phone bank and ended up as the Volunteer Coordinator. The whole experience was very positive for me. It was the first time I felt accepted by lesbians. That was very encouraging for me. I was still grieving my wife and I was very lonely. There was one volunteer that also went to my church that I was growing quite fond of. My living situation was not working out and she invited me to move in with her and her friend. After moving in, things between us heated up and we soon had our own place and did our own vows before God. She was disabled and needed care, so I became her provider. I also became the assistant to the Buildings and Grounds Supervisor at our church. However, that was voluntary. My supervisor was also the church clerk. Her tenure was coming up and she wanted to retire to her family home in Southwest Oregon and convert it into a retreat. She asked if we would help her and we agreed. So we packed up and moved to Oregon. Things were alright at first, but after a while she became demanding and controlling. We could not talk to the neighbors, or go off on our own because she did not want them to know she was lesbian and that I was transgender. We felt like we were in prison, so finally we broke out! Another Greyhound, another city, and we found ourselves in a loving home with two transgender women living there. Another room came available and we had a friend from California move in. She did not last long and we had a room available again. Through the church I had been cleaning an apartment for pay and met a lesbian that needed a place to live and I introduced her to the lady of the house, who took to her (and her partner) immediately. So, she moved in. At this period in my life I hit a wall and couldn't get past this point in my grieving for my wife. So my love and I separated for a season for me to go through my grieving. Unfortunately, I became entangled in the lesbian's life problems with current lover, past loves, and wishful loves. There seemed to be a physical muscle weakness in her, but I never found out what it was. She didn't know what it was either. She did say she was prone to seizures and low blood sugar. I bet I carried her at least ten times in the time I knew her. She was around the age you would have been, Dori, and we began to think of each other that way. She called me Mom and I called her Daughter. As time went on that tie became unbreakable. She finally settled on one partner and was joined in a Wiccan ceremony of hand fasting. That was another avenue I was researching: the Wiccan lifestyle. It was fascinating to me, but I never once lost my faith in my Savior. I did become fearful several times and respond to that fear instead of standing in that faith, but I never believed that practicing Wicca would do more for me than God. I also never believed that Wicca was bad or evil. I did finally conclude that I did not need Wicca when God was the source of all good things. The fact remains, though, that during this time I was still trying to research it. It soon became necessary for me, the lesbian and her partner, and my love, which I had reconciled with, to move out of the house. We found ourselves living in tents, under overpasses, in campsites, sometimes motels, hotels, anywhere we could find. The whole time in Oregon I never found a job. We were there for two years. We consisted on begging, state aid, food stamps, anything we could. Along the way, my "daughter" decided she wanted a baby, so they snagged some guy and she got pregnant while being homeless! I warned her, but to no avail. Finally, my love had had enough and went back to California. I did not know until later where she had gone, but I missed her, a lot. You don't know what you have until it is gone. I was a basket case. I even had problems completing sentences. We joked about my 'daughter' putting me in a home of some kind. By now we had ingratiated ourselves into the home of a lesbian couple from our church. They were in the process of moving and we helped them move. During this time, they helped me see things I hadn't about my 'daughter'. There were definite patterns in the way she had her seizures and sugar 'drops'. They all seemed to happen when she was not getting her way. Boy, was I blind! I felt used, like a piece of my heart was being ripped out. But I knew I had to eliminate them from my life. So we sent them on ahead of us on Greyhound and just did not follow. Instead the lesbian couple and I found my love in California and asked her to return, and she did. The four of us stayed together until the same controlling stuff started again and we moved on.

Chapter 11 - California Here We Come

In November 2004 my love and I moved to San Jose, California. The last time I had seen it was a year after my wife died, and it had changed! The new City Hall was being built, the church across from it was in a rebuilding project, restaurants giving way to sports grills, several familiar agencies being relocated, and much, much more.

We stayed in a shelter for a while until we finally found a room in a Victorian of several rooms, stayed there a while, until we were able to move into a studio, with our own kitchen and bathroom. We were happy there until we moved into our present one-bedroom.

Along the way we have had several ladies stay with us, a couple of gays, and what we have learned is we do much better on our own. We have been together since 2000 and going on 9 years. There have been many ups and downs, but through it all we are learning to make it work. Of all the things I have learned the most important is to not give up.

Somewhere along the way we were talked into getting a timeshare in South Lake Tahoe, and we are glad we did. We went there earlier this year and now we want to move there. The heat here is too much and it does not get that hot in SLT. We can handle the snow and cold. After all, I lived in Alaska and we both lived in Oregon, in the snow. So, as soon as we connect some dots and fill in the pieces of the puzzle of moving we will be living there.

Chapter 12 - South Lake Tahoe not in the Cards

It is amazing to me even now to see the way our plans get waylaid in an instant. After our trip to South Lake Tahoe we tried to check out things online without success. We couldn't get back there to check things out in person, so the whole idea got shelved. What did happen in the last week of November 2008 is I ended up in Emergency with abdominal pain. I was diagnosed with gallstones and sent home with pain and nausea pills, with instructions to schedule an interview with surgery. At the same time my doctor wanted me to have a biopsy of a mole on my back. I had the procedure done and made an appointment for outpatient surgery. The first week of December I was back in Emergency and kept in the hospital over the weekend. On Monday the doctors came in and apologized for not getting me into surgery over the weekend and recommended I go home and keep the outpatient surgery appointment. So I went home and Dermatology wanted more out of my back. The biopsy had revealed a melanoma and they wanted to make sure they got it all. So, with my back healing I had my gall bladder removed on December 19th. On January 2nd I caught a virus that moved into pneumonia. I had that through February and was so sick I could not go from one room to the next without being out of breath. In March I could go out using a 3wheel wheelchair scooter. My love, Roxanne, uses a scooter too. Today is April 24th 2009 and I still cannot go out without the scooter. If I do, I cannot catch my breath the rest of the night. I am waiting for my next doctor's appointment to ask her about my recuperation.

As it is with the rest of country we are having an economic reduction and reducing where we can. We are in the process of finding a reseller to rid us of the timeshare burden. Now the only move we are contemplating is away from people that smoke medicinal marijuana. The smoke comes in the window and Roxanne becomes physically sick from the smell of it. We may have found a place in town we can move to for less rent.

Epilogue

In some ways I don't feel worthy of finding you and insinuating a place in your life. I screwed up and paid for it by not having the privilege to see you grow up and graduate. I missed many firsts - first boyfriend or girlfriend, first kiss, first date, first day to drive, first day of school, and so much more. I also know that I have been able to come to a place of acceptance of who I am, but many people still believe I should go back to the way I was in the 80's. I know I can't do it. It is not me. I would love it if you could accept me as I am, but I do not have unrealistic expectations. I know even though I have not met you as Adults I still love and miss you. You are a part of me and I hope we can find each other and begin to heal our relationship. I was 54 years young July 2008 and as I get older realize family is most important. There is emptiness in my heart that cannot be filled, except by finding you and healing the void. I never achieved wealth to pay investigators to find you, so I have written this book in the hopes that one day it will find its way to you. Actually, I guess it is more of a long letter, than a book, but either way I hope it reaches you.

With all my love,

Your biological father,

Paulette Bell

408.885.9322pbellsemail@gmail.com

By Paulette Bell -

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