Wes hugging Tom -- with beatiful sea behind -- from summer's Oregon vacation

Letter Eighteen, December 1995

Our Christmas '95 Letter Goes Out & Creates a Family Furor

It has been a very eventful year for our family.

Tom's gall bladder was giving him fits, so we scheduled its removal surgery for the end of January. That gave us time to go to Vegas and check out the fancy new hotels, Hoover Dam & Palm Springs first.

I wanted to take Tom snow skiing and planned a beautiful trip -- a fireplace in our room, the works. Then I got bronchitis and we had to cancel the trip. When the sinusitis that was causing the bronchitis would not clear up, we wound up having to operate through a cool little hole drilled into my eyebrow. A "drain tube" was left in for a couple weeks, making me feel a bit like a Cyborg.

We both took solace in our computers, where we spend much of the day. (Tom does consulting/customizing on hospital software and is revered for his talents at it. He even gave a presentation on it this year at a big conference.) We got Tom a Pentium 90 to replace his 286 and me a DX4/100 laptop. Late in the year we got lots of extra goodies (a hard disk, 28.8 modem, 2mb PCI video., and some cool 3D animation software) and an additional Pentium 90. (We got that when my laptop was at the shop and being back on my previous 486/50 machine was seeming slow.) We also set up a LAN at the house. It's pretty neat.

Spring passed into summer. Summer! In August we were going to a family reunion & party on my father's side in Oregon. Tom had never been to the Pacific Northwest, so was really looking forward to it.

And then a big mess happened. To make a long story short, an aunt took the position that it would not be appropriate for Tom and I to be at the event --- as a couple -- if children would also be present. I took the position that Tom is part of my family and should therefore be welcome at family events. Letters went back and forth as both the aunt and I explained our positions. It was draining. It was also, in my mind, a classic example of the discrimination gays face on a daily basis. If you're really interested in all the gory details, check out "The Family Letters" section of our Internet Web page when it debuts February 1. (Speaking of which, if you have an e-mail address, please send it to me at _____@westom.com.) The bright side was we got to see many beautiful places -- like the Columbia River Gorge with its waterfalls -- and visit with much of my family.

After two weeks of Oregon (the cover photo is us in Oregon, the graphics are compliments of Tom) and the California coast (including the exquisite Hearst Castle), we were pooped. We pledged to try never to have another trip that involves changing hotel rooms almost every night.

It was our big sister Genevieve who came to the rescue: She had nine glorious days at the Disney Vacation Club booked for October. Yes, nine -- count them -- days of not changing hotels. And it was a beautiful villa we were in, complete with 3 bedrooms, 4 baths, big living room, washer & dryer, everything you could want. Heaven.

I've basically been sick ever since. I got bronchitis again, and this time it went to pneumonia. Then it lingered as "just" a sinus infection until, well, Monday. But, that hasn't stopped us. Tom has learned quilting. We hosted a nice Thanksgiving gathering for 14 and got to use our new fine china and 27' refrigerator. And, in the last week, I had two sinus suction procedures done so that we can fly -- tomorrow -- to New York City! Tom has never been, and we thought right before Christmas would be fun to see all the stores done up.

So, the year has been filled with activity, purchases, and health "issues." We've done some remarkable things. We're pooped.

We hope you are happy and well.

Wes & Tom

Between this letter and the next, Wes' father calls, telling him he doesn't think a Web site with the
letters is a good idea. (He was supportive throughout the ordeal, but feels it's time to let it rest.)

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