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: Americans across the country are sharing their stories with each other at StoryCorps. Today we hear about conversations that were difficult for one family.
Robert Madden grew up in Mississippi in the 1960s. He was close to his parents. He says they could talk about anything. Robert Madden explains here to a friend how one subject kept taking his mother off guard.
ROBERT MADDEN: When I was 10, I told my parents I was going to marry a man when I grew up. And mother, you know, growing up in a farming community, she was like ask the priest honey. I don't know.
And when I decided to start living openly, I came out to them again because my mother had always told me we can handle anything as a family as long as you tell us first. I don't want to hear about it from friends of strangers. So I told them, and my father was very cool with it right away. He said it doesn't matter to me if you spend your life with a man or with a woman, as long as you make it something you can hold your head up about.
I: what it was like between two men, and what could we possibly do and all that kind of stuff. And she's like if you're embarrassed then, you know, you don't need to answer. And I said, I'm not embarrassed, I'm just shocked you would ask me. And she's like, I want to know.
So I explained to her, and she sat there with a straight face. And at first she just went - hmm, just curious.
In October of 2006, when my mother was passing, she put her hand on my face, and said you are so precious. She said I love you, and I said I love you too, mom. And she goes no, I mean unconditionally.
I was astounded. There's just such open, beautiful acceptance. It was just the greatest gift she could've given me.
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: Robert Madden with Tom Kurthy at StoryCorps in Los Angeles. His interview will be archived at the Library of Congress along with all StoryCorps interviews, and you can subscribe to the project's Podcast at NPR.org.
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