My parents must be treated as separate entities.
At this point, all I can say is that I love you dearly. Although you thought I was a wayward, rebellious, lesbian child, I understand that our culture clashes caused you to see me differently than I actually was. I have always been a free spirit, and I know that Zambian culture calls for outright obedience and submission to your elders. I would never, ever have been that kind of a child, by my very nature. I’m also pretty sure I got my defiance for all things authority from you.
It still bothers me in some ways that you received such a huge settlement back in the late nineties from your victorious lawsuit against your fucked up former employer, but failed to invest those funds in bonds or college savings accounts for me and Chloe and Zeke. But I’m sure knowing what you had and what you lost kills you too, so I have to let it go. I wonder how different of a person I’d be today if I’d had college paid for, but I like who I am, so I guess it all worked out anyway.
In retrospect, if I overlook the groundings and the beatings and the general hot mess-ness of our young family, the positive memories that surface are you *always* supporting me. When mom would put undue pressure on me to become a doctor or a lawyer (living vicariously through me), you always had my back. “Leave her alone; let her do what she wants,” you’d say. “You want to be an astronaut author? Do it.”
The mental illness battles rocked our family. Although I ran away from home to get the hell away from you, once I was older, independent, and wiser, I’m thankful that we were able to have a real relationship. I loved lunches with you in Palatine, and I loved seeing you rebuild your life and truly be a father who was encouraging and even ended up assisting me financially to pay for a year of stupid school.
It’s a shame, what has happened to you in recent years, but I know that it’s a product of chemical imbalances, and not a reflection of your good human essence.
Can you imagine living your whole life thinking you’re the eldest child, then finding out in your 20s that you have an older brother? Who lives in FINLAND? Yeah, Facebook has brought some interesting things to light. When we see each other next, I’m going to ask you all about the lovely Jenipher, the lady with whom you had your first child, my older brother Andy. Andy looks just like you, and like me. And Jenipher is an absolute doll. I’d just love to hear your side of the story.
Be well, and take care of yourself.