Farewell to my Father; to my Demon; to my Salvation; to half of my Creation.
To the man I called Dad, sometimes enemy, sometimes friend, Good Bye! Our relationship was complex, sometime angry and hateful, sometime loving and beautiful. There was nothing simple about it.
To better understand how I wish to speak about my father you should understand that I am a Queer Pagan. I can no longer speak and often struggle to understand the religious and spiritual language of my birth. As I speak to you I have no desire to offend anyone but to speak sincerely about this man and a small part of what he has meant in my life.
In 2002 the façade of this person I identified with as myself was completely fractured. As 2003 started I will ill prepared for the complete destruction that was about to happen in every aspect of my life. On January 18th I called my father along with various other members of my family and said, Dad I am gay. There was silence on the other end of the phone. I sat there for a couple of minutes before I said. I love you I will call you in a few weeks.
As I understand things the first week he pulled into himself and hardly spoke. The second week he started talking to Lori. By the end of the second week he said I do not understand, I will never understand, but he is my son and love him. Two weeks later he called me back “I just called to see how you are doing, make sure you are ok. For the next three years he would call me every couple of days and say about the same thing.
During those three years my life completely unraveled. Due to the unlucky circumstances I lost my emotional functionality to deal with this destruction. At the end of 2002 I was put on anti-depressants by my Navy Doctor. A few months later I was discharged from the Navy, living in Utah and assigned a new psychiatrist at the VA Medical center in Salt Lake City. He had just finished his residency and I was his first unsupervised patient. I was on the maximum does of paxil. I explained to my psychiatrist that I was having the exact opposite side effect of everything that was listed in the information about the drug. His response was to add another anti-depressant which just amplified my reaction. It wasn’t until much later and with the knowledge of a psychiatrist with two decades of experience that I understood what happened. There are a small percentage of the population which anti-depressants push into a manic/depressive state.
As my life unraveled I became extreme manic and depressed. I said and did things many of which I only vaguely remember. I have clear memories of my life up till the end of 2002. I have clear memories of my life from the beginning of 2006 until now. Between 2003 and 2006 is like trying to remember a dream I have just woken up from. I remember how dark life felt and how deeply I wanted to kill myself. But I knew that in a couple of days my father would call me to check in on me. I survived that dark period a couple of days at a time.
In 2005 I met a man visiting his family in Utah and followed him back to Atlanta. The next available appointment for the psychiatrist at the VA medical center in Atlanta was six months. When my anti-depressants ran out I stopped taking them. A couple of months later I woke up one day and I felt like myself again. I had just woken up from a three year nightmare. I told my father for the first time last year that his phone calls were one of the main reasons I did not kill myself during that time.
Over the years as my life had been rebuilt into a much different life there have been many areas where we had big difference like religion and politics he would often tell me “It is not my place to judge.” It was his example that helped me navigate the relationship I have with my own daughter, Mary. There were times in her life when it was challenging to have a queer pagan father. I had experienced how it felt to be on the receiving end of its not my place to judge and extended that to my daughter. We weathered the challenges. Her college application essay was about how having a queer pagan father and a Mormon mother was the best of both worlds.
Brad Fell was a complicated man. For some he was more imperfect than others. As a child he was the source of my demons. As an adult he was the source of my salvation.
This is how he explained his life to me, he was a person of the dark who was told all his life he had to exist in the light. I do not mean this in the terms of good and evil. In nature some plants thrive and depend on the dark. They will only bloom at night. He was a plant blooming under the moon being told he should bloom under the sun. His example of non-judgement came out of his own experiences. In my own way I am a person of the dark. He is one of the many people in my life that have helped me to be comfortable blooming under the light of the moon.
Wandering through my memories of him for me is like finding a wild briar rose. They are covered with thousands of thorns and if I get too close blood is drawn. But from the right distance away I can enjoy the beautiful flowers of the roses and their intoxicating scent. Sometimes I just have to get close and other times I have to see the bigger picture.
I feel that it is important be able to speak our truth about Brad both the good and the bad and find our own peace with him. He was both the saint and the sinner. He does not need to defend himself or speak for himself anymore. He has now passed to the spirit world where he sees the bigger picture of love and salvation. If confession and speaking out loud is your path to that same love and salvation that is all that he will ever want from each one of us.
Dad, this new journey you are on, may it be filled with peace, joy and grace. Now as you would say in the name of Jesus Chris, I say Blessed Be.
Good afternoon everyone, I am Robbie, Brad’s daughter. My dad was born October 13th 1948 to Arlin and Ruth Fell in Idaho Falls in the Temple View hospital. He was their first child and was later joined by three sisters, Karla, Elizabeth, and Kirstin. In 1953 the family moved to Rigby ID to the maternity ward that was owned by my grandma, Ruth. My dad was 5 years old. During this time, my dad’s sisters have many fond memories of him. The family had a black cocker spaniel. My dad loved this dog and would play for hours in the yard with his dog. His sisters would go to the park and watch him fly his RC planes. He was always so kind to them while they played and watched him fly his planes.
In 1964 the family moved to a farm. He spent his time talking care of the farm and milking cows before and after school. During this time, my dad had major events occur that significantly altered his life. He came down with a severe case of mono, but continued to do his chores on the farm. Shortly after that he came down with Rheumatic fever, which caused damage to his heart valves. At the age of 16 my dad was in a traumatic vehicle accident. He was with the scouts hauling lava rock. The door of the truck flew open. He held on to the door, but could not keep his hold. He was flipped over the door, hitting his head, and landed on the ground where the rear wheel of the truck ran him over and broke many of his bones.
His family did not think he would live, but he made it through and showed them that he was going to live. At that point his family did not think he would walk again. As you all know, my dad was a very stubborn man and he showed them. He defied all odds and went on to attend college.
He attended ISU and Ricks college and was working on a degree in drafting. While attending Ricks college he met my mom, Ruth Turner. In April 1971 they married and had 6 children; Keith, Jennifer, myself, Clifford, Heather, and Bryan. Their marriage later ended in divorce.
My favorite memory of my dad was right after my parents divorced. He planned a trip to Lagoon, it was just the 7 of us. He planned it down to every detail because it was important to him that it was memorable to us. He spared no expense and even went as far as trying to pair each sibling perfectly so that we would all have the best time.
My dad paired me with Clifford…. It is my fault that to this day that he won’t go on any amusement park rides. I am sorry Emily.. anytime you are with Aunt Robbie, I will go on rides with you.
Shortly after that trip my dad started Dating Lori Brown, the neighbor across the street, which shocked us all. But what they had was sweet and kind. What looked peculiar to us made sense to them. They later married and my dad gained 4 additional children, Dannielle, Dustin, Dayna, and Derick. My Dad left for work everyday before Lori did. Before he left for work he would go into their room to make sure she was tucked in and warm. He would kiss her on the cheek as he left. While they were dating, Derick wanted to play T-Ball but was afraid of the ball. My dad would come over every night and throw ball with Derick until he was over his fear and was able to join the T-ball team.
After my dad married Lori he wanted his kids to have a relationship. He bought a boat and figured if he could get all 10 of us on the boat we would pull together and bond. For me and many of us the boat had good memories and great lessons. When Derick was on his mission he understood and knew how to maneuver boats, while other missionaries struggled with them. For me, It was the first time I got sick on the boat and later learned I was sick because I was pregnant with my son Patrick. I was determined to have my son a week early so my dad took me out on the boat and let me bounce around on the bough of the boat with hopes to jump start my labor. But my son, who is as stubborn as my dad, did not come early, in fact he came a week late. Talk about teaching me a lesson about patients. Those where happy moments in my dad’s life. In fact, despite of everyone telling him to get rid of the boat, he kept the boat long after we were all gone. In his garage sits the tubes. In his closet hangs the wet suits.
My dad would bring my younger siblings and step siblings to the library every other Saturday. He would help Bryan pick out books that Bryan would enjoy reading. After they finished at the library they would go to Carsten’s bakery and each would get 2 donuts. This tradition was important to him.
Many of us have different memories of him and some are not all positive. We may have thought he did not love us, however, he loved us with his whole heart. But he did not know how to show us
My dad was happiest when he was engrossed in aviation. I remember having a conversation with him around 2002, he was so excited to tell me that he was taking flight lessons with the goal of getting his pilot’s license. Over the phone I could tell his eyes were lit up like a kid based on the tone and excitement in his voice.
On Thursday I went to his house. When I walked into his shop I could tell that was his happy place. I could feel the positive energy. In the middle of the shop was a shiny plane he had been building and in the corner of his shop was stacks of CDs that he would listen to, Boston, Eagles, and Foreigner. This plane is so shiny and pretty. You could tell he had poured his heart and soul into it. He had meticulously worked on this plane to make sure it was perfect.
He spent the last years of his life immersed in the church. He was the teacher in the high priest group and was constantly helping with neighbor’s home projects with the help of his home teaching partner, Wayne Hanson.
My dad passed on Tuesday, March 28th at 8:58PM. He was a complex man that we are still learning new things about. As I get more knowledge I gain a better understanding of who my dad was.
He was irritable and impatient. But he was also loving and beautiful. I appreciate him and am grateful for the man he was. He made me and my siblings the people we are today.
In the name of Jesus Christ
When I was 29, it was the year in my life when Bradley was conceived and born. It was also in the middle of my Saturn Return. This caused a lot of internal self-reflection. At some point in all this I was reading in the Book of Mormon in the book of Morni – “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.”
I remember clearly thinking that I wanted to be filled with this love, so I got on my knees and in one of those moments of sincere pleading I asked for this charity, this love, this pure love. In the middle of praying after speaking my request my soul said to me “Are you sure this is what you want? This will destroy your family and your life!” I paused for a moment and then in a very confident manner stated “Yes! I am sure.”
I was willing to pay the price at that time. As with many things that involve the soul the price is often greater than imagined. From that moment on I began having experiences that would crack the thick exterior around my inner world. On the 19th of January 2003, a few months before I turned 31 all of the walls that kept my life together crashed around me. The morning started with my coming out to my Navy psychologist. By the time the day ended I had told my commanding officer, my religious leaders and my extended family. The world as I knew it ceased to exist that day.
But the supreme meaning is the path, the way and the bridge to what is to come. That is the God yet to come. It is not the coming of God himself, but his image which appears in the supreme meaning. God is an image, and those who worship him must worship him in the image of the supreme meaning.
The supreme meaning is not a meaning and not an absurdity, it is image and force in one, magnificent and force together.
The supreme meaning is the beginning and the end. It is the bridge of going across and fulfillment.
The other Gods died of their temporality, yet the supreme meaning never dies, it turns into meaning and then absurdity, and out of the fire and blood of their collision the supreme meaning rises up rejuvenated anew.
The image of God has a shadow. The supreme meaning is real and cast a shadow. For what can be actual and corporeal and have no shadow?
The shadow is nonsense. It lacks force and has no continued existence through itself. But nonsense is the inseparable and undying brother of the supreme meaning.
Like plants, so men also grow, some in the light, others in the shadows. There are many who need the shadows and not the light.
The image of God throws a shadow that is just as great as itself.
The supreme meaning is great and small, it is as wide as the space of the starry Heaven and as narrow as the cell of the living body.”
January 19th, the day all of my panic attacks stopped occurring regular three or four times a week, I found myself in the shadow of God. The meaning of my life turned into absurdity and I got swept up into the blood and fire of their collision. Here I am 16 years later finding that the absurdity is beginning to turn into meaning again and the glimpse of the supreme meaning is beginning to appear.
May 9, 1995 I was visiting my paternal grandfather, Arlin Fell. He served in World War II in the U.S. Navy as a Seabee. For the first time in my life he talked to me about his experience in the Navy. He pulled out his photo album. There was a letter to his mother where he described being attacked by Japanese Kamikaze pilots. It was the first time we had a real conversation as adults. The last thing he said to me before I left was “NEVER JOIN THE NAVY!” Two weeks later on May 24 he passed away.
It should not surprise anyone that knows me, not only did I not listen to him but I did exactly the opposite of what he told me not to do. On February 6th 1996 I raised my right hand and said”
I Keith Allen Turner, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear truth faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
At that moment I was officially enlisted in the U.S. Navy and become Seaman Turner. I got on a plane and spent the next year and a half just outside of Chicago, nine weeks in boot camp and the rest of the time in training.
Boot Camp was nine weeks of hell. I found ways to survive and adjust to difficult circumstances successfully. That experience has played a big part in my life, giving me confidence I would not have had otherwise. After I graduated from boot camp my grandmother told me my grandfather would have been real proud of me. I am sure that she was right.
January 21, 2003 after a long series of events I broke the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” rule and told my commanding officer I was gay. In hind sight I was very lucky. My command at the time S.I.M.A San Diego made sure I was discharged in the best possible way. They called the military JAG office and made sure that my discharge was processed as an honorable discharge. During that time in the military there was a lot of dishonorable discharges for breaking the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” Rule.
On March 7, 2003 I received an honorable discharge – reason for discharge: Homosexual Admission.
My seven years as a sailor was a pivotal time in my life. It was the beginning of a long exploration of me being me and discoveries about myself which has continued to this very day.
Today on Veterans Day I am taking a moment to remember the importance my military service has been to my life and how it has helped shape me into the person I am today. Those seven years were the best of times and the worst of times. I fell in love with the sea and ultimately it lead me on a journey where I fell in love with myself.
In the end it was the one thing that finally created a connection between me and my grandfather Arlin.
The unexpected side benefit of attending the Unified Police Department’s Citizen’s Police Academy is that it has opened a place for healing from old childhood wounds. I have not been able to write anything about the police academy since the active shooter scenario. My mind started processing, bringing down walls to an otherwise inaccessible part of my past, an emotional part of that past I had tried to put behind inaccessible walls. These hidden emotions did find ways to escape, though it was mostly through unconscious means.
I am 11 or 12 perhaps younger / older I do not know. My father has come home for lunch. He has parked his motorcycle directly behind my mother’s car. Having a dentist appointment, my mother and I get into the car. She either forgets or does not know that the motorcycle is parked directly behind her car. Backing into it she knocking over the motorcycle. Momentarily we both look at each other in horror as we realize what had just happened and knowing what is about to happen.
My father running out of the house quickly makes his way the driver’s side door of the car. A scuffle ensues as my father tries to force the door open as my mother is trying to re-shut lock the car door. Being stronger he soon forces the car door open and begins to drag her out of the car while hitting her. Amongst all the screaming I hear her yell ‘lock the doors and stay in the car’.
Soon my father drags her around the car and onto the lawn. My mother curls up on the lawn with her hands wrapped around her head as my father continues hitting her and yelling.
I found myself sitting in a locked car watching helplessly as my mother was being beaten by my father. My mother eventually escapes, running off to a neighbor’s house. My father tied to get into the car but I am too scared and refused to unlock the doors. I was terrified.
Eventually my father picked up his motorcycle and drives off.
Within minutes a county sheriff officer arrives, walks up to the car, knocks on the window and ask me if I am ok.
He was a tall man as seen from the eyes of a child. I still see him clearly in my mind, all but the details of his face. Even that is probably stored somewhere in my memories.
Most if not all of my memories of police officers as a child involved them arriving to my house just after a moment of extreme violence. Their arrival was the indication that all was now momentarily safe. The violence had ended for the day.
For the last ten weeks I have spent every Wednesday night and one Saturday morning surrounded and interacting with police officers. At the end of each of these classes I have climbed into my car and started crying as I have drove myself home. I told Detective Bennett, one of the COP officers, a few weeks ago that my interaction with police officers as a child was as a result of them responding to domestic violence at my childhood home. This last Wednesday night, which also happened to be the last Citizen’s Police Academy class, one of the scenarios we did was responding to a domestic violence call. I found myself acting in the role of a police officer responding to a domestic violence call. The actual scenario was non-violent just a lot of yelling, though it was enough to destroy any and all remaining walls I had encased around those childhood emotions. After running the scenario I mentioned to Detective Malm, who is in charge of the Citizen’s Police Academy, a similar thing that previously most of my interaction with police officers was through responding to domestic violence calls as a child.
Wednesday night I might have slept on and off for three hours and by Thursday morning the barriers to all those emotions were finally gone. I am now finally in a place with my life where little Keith feels safe enough to unlock the car doors and come out. I have a better understanding that some of the emotional, psychological and physiological reactions I experience when interacting with a police officer has been rooted in an emotional past that until now I had been unwilling to fully acknowledge and deal with.
What started out as an intent to better understand the life of a police officer has turned into a better understanding and integration of myself.
[note: My father is a good person with his own issues like everyone else. As adults we do have a good relationship. I am sure that I will have more to say on this in a later post.]