It went as well as could be expected. Aunt Mary and some of my cousins, and both of my sisters were a little shocked upon seeing me, not having known about The Red Dress. (Janie’s got the full story here.)
It went over well, better than I had expected. A few sarcastic comments from Aunt Mary at first, but then she got over it, mostly.
The Catholic priest seemed a bit unsure, and tried to be politely discreet about inquiring of The Admiral (Aunt Helen’s eldest) about the dude in drag. There’s nothing discreet about Luis. He took the priest by the arm and marched him right over to ask for himself. Loudly.
It was an awkward moment for this priest, and though I was sorely tempted, I didn’t let him hang too long. He laughed when I explained, and found it appropriately amusing.
My two sisters that came just assumed I’d decided to wear women’s clothes, and moved on. How wonderfully open and accepting of them. There was quite the look of shock on my baby sister’s face for a second, but shock – not judgement. Once I explained (I really felt they deserved an explanation anyway) and we said our “hello”s and “how are you, how was the flight?”s, they gave me a few pointers about sitting in a dress, and leg crossing and standing up in several inch heels, and doing it without breaking your neck.
I had to pose for a few pictures for some of Aunt Helen’s life-long friends, standing next to her portrait. Many, many tears of remembrance morphed into approving laughter of remembrance, and after all is said and done, that really was the point. I believe I managed to send her off to California exactly the way she intended, and I will always smile when I think of that. And most importantly, I won’t be the only one.
From whence came the art: