Meet Julie


Julie wrote this poem to me soon after we admitted our affection for each other in our email relationship.  She has proven every word to be true.


by Julie
for me

Everything went wrong and the whole day long
I’d feel so blue.
For the longest while, I’d forget to smile.
Then I met you.

Now that my blue days have passed,
Now that I’ve found you at last,
I’ll be loving you always
With a love that’s true always.

When the things you planned need a helping hand
I will understand always, always.
Days may not be fair always,
That’s when I’ll be there always.

Not for just an hour,
Not for just a day,
Not for just a year,
But always.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Julie Kaye is the fourth of five kids among her band of Leckbands. Her dad, Larry, with his first wife, who sadly died young, brought Laurie and Mark with him when he and Vonna married. Together, they welcomed Sheri, Julie, and Amber.


Julie at five months old, enjoying her first cookie.
Julie at ten months.  Strike a pose, girl!

Growing up a few miles south of tiny Ocheyedan (Oh CHEE dn), in northwest Iowa, they inhabited the family farm from which Dad eased away and into other endeavors. Around the time Julie was graduating from high school, Dad and Mom left the farm for a spot fewer than two miles directly north on which they built a large ranch-style house that sits in front of a huge pond created by Dad.

Both sides of Julie’s family have long Lutheran lines. On the Leckband side, a number of pastors inhabit several generations. Julie was brought up in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. She was confirmed at the usual age of fourteen. Then, as is common to so many youth, she found the faith wanting.

Julie the teenager.  If we would have been in high school together…

In high school, Julie was very active. She played basketball for the Sibley-Ocheyedan Generals. She was cute and friendly, which translated into an active dating life.

She got into journalism  While still in high school, she wrote, and even became sports page editor for, the local weekly newspaper. The kid was good. To see how good a writer she is, here is the piece she wrote for my blog:

Her high school experience taught her that she loved this work. She headed to college, taking her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa.

Julie and I fell for each other via email, before we ever saw each other’s picture.  This is the one she sent to me, the first time I ever saw her.  I found her so beautiful.  I hoped that when she saw my picture she would not run away in horror.

While in college, she took a job with a newspaper which was in a town near Iowa City, where U of I is. She also took to her boss. They eventually married. Newspaper work took them to South Dakota, then a career change for him took them back to Northwest Iowa and to Julie’s going to work for her dad.

Running heavy machinery.

And the chick loved it.

That’s Julie, in the cab.  This is one of the big machines she ran when working with her dad.
Farm towns love their tractor-pull competitions, and Julie loves to show how it’s done!

Julie’s marriage was not what is should have been. Since college, her faith in the Lord had all but disappeared. I recently heard her tell someone, “I was pretty worldly.” A series of things brought her to the crossroads which eventually brought her to me, but first these things brought her back to the Lord.

She called on the pastor of her childhood congregation. Not only did the Holy Spirit use him to heal Julie’s soul, her rekindled faith turned into a marvelous zeal for the Word of God.

She was still married, but terribly troubled. Since I have written in detail how this brought her to me, I will let you read that if you do not know the story. Hey, it’s the best love story in the history of the world, so if you’ve never read it you simply must click this:

I love this picture for the spirit it catches in Julie.  This is the morning of our wedding.  In the background are daughter Erin and my best bud, Tim Todd.

When I describe the woman whom I am blessed to call my own, there is no bias in my describing her as a one-of-a-kind. Among her lovely attributes—kind, compassionate, funny, generous—she is a tireless worker. When we were in Port Hope, those ten years that she worked for H & R Block had her toiling seven days a week from February through April 15, leaving the house at 7:30 and often not returning until 11:00 p.m., midnight, and even later.

And she never complained. There was no whining about the grind. The most I might hear was “I could use more sleep,” but then she would be off and running, with the smile on her face which she had for everyone.

“Really?  You think you can get to that plate of yummy bread?  All right then, but you’d better give it your best shot.”

Julie has a tremendous ability to think of others first. For a few years, she was our church school’s secretary. Fifteen hours a week were paid. She worked way more than that. When the principal needed work on the school computers, Julie jumped in. Julie loves a challenge, and she has a passion for research and learning. She turned herself into a computer geek. Almost no problem can stump her.

During the tax off season, she donated long hours to the school. On a Friday or Saturday, she might go over in the morning and not return until well into the afternoon. Many a Sunday afternoon was spent the same way.

If a job needs to be done, she does it.

One time, some ladies in the church put on a fashion show of clothes from years past. Julie served as one of the models. She walked and turned and smiled and dazzled as if she had done this a thousand times before. And, oh! Was she so cute!

I could post a hundred pics like this to show that dazzling smile that I love so much.  I included this one because it gives a glimpse of the lovely back yard we enjoyed in Port Hope.  Behind me is son Alex.  To my left is son Addison, to his left is my brother Tom, and standing in the rear is daughter Jackie.

Though she had no children of her own, she came into our house and fell into place as if she were a grizzled veteran of a mother. When we were married, Erin was twenty, Jackie was eighteen, Addison was fifteen, and Alex was twelve. Jackie was in college and the rest were at home.

It was not long before I was telling people that Julie’s relating to the kids, and their interacting with her, was as firm and friendly and loving as if she had been their mother their entire lives. I often thought that folks found me exaggerating. I was not. The kids would easily attest to their love and respect for Julie.

I love telling about a phone call that occurred many times. After the kids grew and moved out, when they called home the conversation often went like this:
Me: “Hello?”
Child: “Hi, Dad, it’s _____.”
Me: “Hey, what’s up?”
Child: “Oh, not much. How are you?”
Me: “I’m cool.”
Child: “Good. Um, is Julie there?”

My ten seconds turned into Julie’s forty-five minutes. I kid you not.

“What did I get myself into?  I don’t know what is going on next to me.  I can’t bring myself to look.”

Julie was not only the Lord’s gift to me, but to the entire family. Now, the grandchildren adore her, too. “Nana! Will you play a game with me?”


One of my favorite pictures.  That wonderfully expressive face!  Nana carries granddaughter Maggie down the slide as granddaughter Margot assures their safe landing.

The summer after we married, Julie’s folks threw a reception-like party for us at their place. There was one older couple, cousins of some sort, who acted like newlyweds despite their having been married fifty or so years. Julie and I decided we wanted to be like them.

After fifteen years, we are. We are silly together, and sweet, and affectionate. A day never goes by that we do not express our love—every morning when she leaves for work, and every night when we go to bed. I often find myself telling her, “I’m crazy about you.” I think she is the most adorable thing around.

Julie has the kind of personality which allows her to deal with things in a compassionate, understanding manner. When, before we married, I told her of my gender issues, she didn’t blink. “I don’t know anything about it. Teach me.” And, eleven years later, when gender dysphoria finally crushed me and I said the words I never thought I would utter, “I might not survive if I don’t transition,” she replied, “Then we will figure it out.”

And that is what we have done. As a team. She had always lived her poem to me.  Now, she lived it as deeply as any spouse would ever have to.

Every couple should talk as much as Julie and I. As she suffered at my side my many meltdowns, she talked me through them. She shared ideas from what she witnessed. Because I could trust her, I was able to be totally honest with her.

Trust, honesty, and communication. Foundational things for a solid marriage. A solid friendship. A solid any-sort-of-relationship.

When I retired, Julie had to take on the job of bringing home the bacon. She did it without hesitation. Even more—though I was still striving to remain male at the time I retired—she determined to only apply for jobs with companies which are trans-friendly, with health insurance which covers transitioning. She got the only job for which she applied, with Charles Schwab, the financial services company.

Once again, she finds herself working hard, long hours. Her department is under-staffed and overworked. As they address that, she has been working ten and eleven hours a day, and almost every Saturday. Just as when she was doing taxes, she never utters a discouraging word.

One spouse transitioning sexes can completely disrupt a marriage. Many do not survive it. Julie would have none of that. She has been my rock these past four years. And my biggest cheerleader. She has been as happy as I with each step I’ve taken.

julie and gina
February, 2016. Julie and I posed, with daughter Jackie behind the camera. The pic was used in my Indianapolis Monthly article.

Our feelings for each other are the same as when we fell in love, and even more so.

It’s all because of her. Because she gives me everything she has, and that girl has it all.

I learned this from her early on. She said, “You’re the second-best thing to happen to me. The best thing is being a baptized child of God.” I picked it up for myself.

Yes, Julie is second to the Lord but, because she shows me the heart of Jesus, she’s a really close second.


4 thoughts on “Meet Julie

  1. i simply adore how the two of you. fill up the space into one. it’s really good.
    of course i am sobbing like a baby. (counting down the days with you.)


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