I first met Titti - quite funny in English, I know - in 1970, outside a pub in Wexford, Ireland. Living in different parts of Sweden, we just barely kept in touch with a few odd letters, but when we met again, in the spring of 1972, we realized that this was for real.
Not that it was always easy, but all in all we were good for each other. When T finished her education, she moved into a Stockholm slum apartment with me - cold water, insufficient electric radiators & no
more power available, plates and glasses frozen to the marble sink some winter mornings, two big snakes in dire need of sharing our bed when the main fuses blew in the middle of the night ...
... but in spite of this, she suggested that we get married half a year later, in June 1975.
Öland, in the Baltic, 1974. Click on photo
for higher resolution version.
Having seen too many marriages break up because he didn't tell her about his transvestism before they got married - rarely the other way around ... - and numerous lovely ones where she knew all along, I realized that I had to explain as soon as things got serious. I decided to tell her already in the fall '72, and when finally I got there, after half a night's beating around the bush, she said only "Nothing worse?", and went to sleep.
Of course it proved not to be that easy, but living in different parts of the country probably helped. We simply couldn't talk all the time, and had to rely on letters to do the job - which gave her time to let it all sink in. Already that first New Year's Eve, she came with me to a gay & lesbian party, for which, needless to say, I dressed as a woman.
Markus, the oldest of our lovely sons, was born in November '78 ...
... and Joel, his younger brother, came into our lives two years and two weeks later.
Joel, less than two months old ...
... and at his Cristmas Eve baptism, with mom,
big brother & my mother.
Christmas Eve revisited, with T's
nieces Johanna & Magdalena,
and her mother.
Quite a happy little guy, in May '81
We always gave priority to our summer travels, starting off in grand style by taking the train to Istanbul in '73. We went to Iceland for our honeymoon, drove through Eastern Europe in '76, and did a full circle, by car, in the US the year after; 18 000 km in six weeks.
When our sons were 1,5 & 3,5 yrs old we took the train to Paris & Bretagne/Brittany, where we found a boat to the British Channel Islands.
Guernsey lunch in '82 ...
... & back on Swedish soil in late July 86
Always having liked trains, this got to be a way of life when I started working for the railways. In 1986 we spent four weeks touring France, Spain & Portugal. It should be obvious from these photos that our sons really enjoyed it!
Lunch in Lisbon/Lisboa;
Does anyone more than me see
Calvin, of "Calvin & Hobbes"?
This chronological gap to be covered later - I simply have to move ahead to more recent events.
In Sept '04 we saw a last chance to travel as a family, before careers, kids etc. begin to take up all their time. We invited our sons to Santorini, the Greek island we fell in love with three years before.
There was a totally new aspect to our relationship, though, in that this was the first time they travelled with me as a woman. We were overwhelmed by the ease with which these young men handled the sight of their father in a bikini - even on crowded beaches.
A less dramatic but very nice part of our week was that, with ours sons both having driving licenses, we rented four small scooters, giving us access to remote beaches and sparsely inhabited areas of the island.
Our last major journey together - Australia & New Zealand in the summer - their winter - of 2005.
I then spent three more months in our company's Sydney office.
New Zealand, South island, July. Twenty-one years old in the '74 photo at the top of the page, fifty-two here; So far we did pretty well, I think ;o)
© our friend Nancy in Dunedin.
* One of this decade's most notable occasions; 5th Aug 2006, at Öjaby church, Växjö *
Markus and his wife Karin Joel & girlfriend Marika
The dads ... ... and moms
A brief step back to our first visit at
the site; Me & my sons in early May.
Another important part of our life has been T's quarter of a century hobby musicianship in an all but professional chamber orchestra, frequently up-graded to full symphony size.
Over the years the boys and I have accompanied her on a number of orchestra & choir tours - to Norway, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia & Russia.
From their Sept '06 Ukraine tour, giving concerts in Yalta/Crimea and - here - Kiev.
When did the disintegration begin? For T this probably happened the day I had my SRS. She loved me and wanted to stay with me, but on a subconscious level began to question our chances. Not wanting to accept this she focused on the good stuff. She managed very well for five more years.
For me it was a gradual realization that I would never find out who this new woman really is, if I stayed in a relationship where, in a way, I would forever remain 'her former husband'.
In early '07 we were ready to go ahead, hoping to stay best friends for ever - maintaining mutual custody of the cat, the car, our motorbikes and future grandkids.
In May we sold our summer house and bought T a lovely flat two underground stops away - at the same time making plans for another summer together. The sale of our big, beautiful apartment and the acquisition of a new one for me was planned for early fall. We even hoped to continue living under the same roof until then - to feel that this quite dramatic change was something we went through together.
Not all that unexpected, I suppose, this beautiful scenario wasn't there to be; Our last few days of vacation - expectations running high - turned into sheer disaster. I escaped for a few days on my motorbike and when I returned home Sat Aug 11th T had emptied her wardrobe and moved to her new place.
In early Sept we sold our beloved home of twenty-one years, and four days later I landed the contract of a magnificent place no more than five blocks away - and diagonally across the block from our first home.
On Markus & Karin's balcony in Aug '04.
I will forever cherish the thirty-five years we got together, and I hope that we manage to remain friends ...
... even more so now that Markus & Karin are well on their way to giving us our first grandchild; This new little human being is scheduled for 27th January 2009 ;o)
* On the 29th of January Love first saw the light of day *
Markus & his son at two days of age
Four generations, April
From the youngest member of my family to the oldest; My mother's attitude towards my trans side always was complicated, to say the least.
I naïvely told my parents in 1973, and my mother's reaction was to be the main reason for my moving out a few months later.
Over the years she alternately pretended "it" wasn't there, theatrically showed me how much it hurt her, or even chose not to see me and my gfrd/wife for periods stretching
from a couple of weeks to nine months - and this in spite of their living a mere seven km away.
Katarina's appearance in my life was quite magical; Having decided that we really would split up I attended a Club Sappho party, for grown-up ladies, in Febr 2007 - and couldn't take my eyes off this lovely woman. But with her being constantly surrounded by her friends - including quite an obvious partner - and my not feeling all that sure about my standing in the lesbian world, I didn't dare to approach her.
When the same thing happened in April, I went home and spent several hours scanning the internet for images from previous Sappho parties - with Katarina usually being there, her lovely smile and warm eyes making her shine. In every photo. And I didn't even know her name.
Almost a year later I joined the 105 000 members of the Qruiser LGBT web community, made a general search for "Stockholm lesbians between 40 & 60 with a photo on their page", sent a few
"new here" messages, got a couple of nice replies - including one from Lena who's now a close friend - and then ... there she was !?! Still no name, but undeniably her in the photo. Sent her a hopeless "Recognize you from Sappho" ...
... and had to read her reply several times before I dared to believe that it was for real; "Recognize you too. Twice, wasn't it? Nice to hear from you & hope you write again."
In March 2008 we touched & talked for the first time, in July she accompanied me on a trip to Lithuania - and since Pride week in August that year we have spent all but a handful of weekends together. So it goes - amazingly ;o)
Love in Italy July 2010, oily from having
eaten pasta & pesto. Photos by his uncle Joel.
In May 2011 Joel and
Marika eventually tied the knot ...