A Late-blooming Lesbian Panther

I'm late to every identity milestone. My tardy menses should have been a warning. My hormones kicked in late, and when they did, they kicked in for the "wrong" gender: When David took me for a ride on his motorcycle, I didn't understand a word he was saying, but I couldn't get enough of him. I took to boys like I was on a fast trip down a one-lane highway, but that was because I had no idea that I could be with a girl. It didn't occur to me to do anything other than what was expected. A perfect middle-class 1950s girl, I went to college, dated boys and got married at 22. I played the part well enough, but I was bored with the straight life, in all ways. I tried being the perfect wife but failed miserably.

After 12 years of marriage and two young daughters, I realized that my sexuality had been misdirected. Then one weekend in 1978, I attended a Gestalt weekend seminar where I couldn't take my eyes off of a tall, earthy, 50-something woman who was known as an out lesbian professor at a local college. That year I fell in love, had an affair with a woman, left my husband after a difficult period of uncertainty and, within three months, met my woman, my life partner.

Ours was a passionate love affair that evolved into a complicated blended-family dynamic. Raising children together proved to be the final stressor that led to a two-year separation, but we came back together with a deeper understanding and commitment that lasted for 31 years. Our love sustained us both when she faced her cancer diagnosis and I stepped up to be her caregiver.

Writing saved my life during and after her three-year struggle. It has taken me two books and a personal blog to call myself a writer. I've started life over with new friends, new interests and the strange world of online dating -- no easy feat for a not-quite-grey panther. In my 60s I'm discovering my identities, my friends, my interests and work changes, and I'm ever blooming. I'm a widow, a lesbian, a parent, a meditator and a seeker, and my identities continue to expand.

I've chosen to blog about lesbian life from the perspective of a crone: lesbian life transitions, coming out after marriage to a man, lesbian parenting and grandparenting, lasting lesbian relationships (their trials and rewards), delving into the world of lesbian dating for older women and aging issues such as caring for a seriously ill partner or parent and loss through breakup or death.

In my crone years I've come to accept that important changes often happen slowly, but I don't mind being a late bloomer, because the strength and passion of a panther fuel my soul.