I got a message today via that social networking site of which I am a miserable failure of a member. I don't get on there for days (weeks?) at a time, during which time I miss important events in the lives of everyone of whom I am a "friend." When my sister asked whose couch my own daughter fell asleep on last weekend, I had no idea what she was talking about. Miserable failure, I tell you.
The girl from whom I got the message is someone I graduated from high school with. (Yes, I realize that is grammatically incorrect, ending a sentence with a preposition, but that would be the third "whom" in a row, and even I have to draw the line somewhere.) Because she sent it out to so many people, and she said it would later be posted, I feel okay about putting it here. I think it would even be okay for me to be talking about it. It's kind of long, so forgive me, but I didn't feel competent enough to paraphrase it.
If you're receiving this email, then please know it's because I consider you more than a fb friend. I can't think of any more important message than the one I'm about to deliver. Although I HATE generic 'chain' types of emails, this is far from that, I promise. Please just hang with me and read on, and you'll understand. I'm going to make this a fb post soon, and NEED your support - hence, this heads-up email.
Most of you know that my father died November 12, 2010, and that we were not on good terms. In 2004 he made it clear that he had legally disowned me - totally written me out of his will - and, even with a few tries at reconciliation once he got sick, nothing ever happened and I'm slowly making my own peace with it. He claimed to disown me because of the fact that I have chosen to live differently than many - - I have chosen to follow my heart, and it was unacceptable to him.
Well, when the will was probated you can imagine my shock that I WAS mentioned in it, first in fact. Rather than leave me out altogether, he left me the sum of $5 - - obviously meant to be more hurtful than just leaving me out altogether. He then equally divided everything else between Gwen, my siblings, and Gwen's son. The fact that he left this life with such bitterness really makes me sad, and I am so determined to not allow resentment to grow, fester, and dictate my life. There is so much to live for, and I want to enjoy it ALL! I have people like YOU in my life - - my family of choice, and want to always be mindful of my blessings not losses and pain.
Although I couldn't do much with $5 (not to mention the fact that it feels like poison money), I've decided to do something and hope that you'll join me. I have established an account at the Human Rights Campaign in my father's name. My $5 along with yours can go a long way in making a difference for many. It's a way to turn ugliness into something beautiful, which is what I constantly tell my students we are put on this Earth for . . . to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Please consider making a donation of any amount - - honestly, I feel you're all part of my healing process. The information for donating is as follows…
I love you all - for many reasons, but especially for allowing me to be honest with this and to share my pain. Something beautiful is going to come out of something so ugly, and that makes my heart sing.
I went to school with this girl from third grade all the way through graduation. Our senior class probably remains the silliest on record from our high school even to this date, and Lisa was right in there with the rest of us. I remember her coming to class after lunch one day with her broken flip-flop and singing Jimmy Buffett's song about "I blew out my flip-flop." Sorry....you'd have to be there. I told you we were silly.
I lost touch with Lisa over the years, but I knew she had become a teacher. In fact, she was chosen as the county-wide teacher of the year for one of the very large metro-Atlanta area counties a few years ago. I think that's saying something.
Lisa's mother was diagnosed with cancer when we were in high school. She fought a long, hard battle, but ultimately there was nothing they could do. Lisa and I were both in a pageant/talent contest our senior year, and it was held in November. Lisa made it to the finalists, and she had to answer one of those impromptu questions posed by the judges. Her question? Chosen at random, this is what they asked, "As the Thanksgiving season approaches, what do you have to be thankful for?" Her mother was dying, and THAT'S the question she got? I burst into tears right there on stage. (And before we got out of the building, my mother admonished me for crying, saying people were going to think I was crying because I didn't win. Because clearly I'm that shallow. But I digress.)
I don't remember what Lisa's response was because I was crying and it was more than 30 years ago. But I'm sure it was poetic and elegant (as poetic and elegant as any 17- or 18-year-old in a high school pageant). She didn't win the pageant either, but she won my undying respect and admiration for not crumbling in front of everyone in the audience. Or answering, as I would have been tempted to say, "Hey ass-wipe, is that the best question you could come up with for me in these circumstances?"
I don't understand how a parent can disown a child. Especially not based on her lifestyle. I knew Lisa's father, and I actually liked him. He had a beautiful singing voice; I remember him singing at our church once as a guest vocalist. I wasn't aware he had died, but I don't know if he still lived in this area. What went through his mind when he decided he wanted no further contact with his eldest child? What about her siblings - did they share their father's opinion, or were they caught in the middle?
And while my heart breaks for Lisa, I am absolutely in awe of her resolve. She has every right to be bitter, and I suppose she IS, but she has taken something horribly negative and turned it into a positive. It's the ultimate "screw you" to her father, even though he is dead. And she probably doesn't even mean for it to be that - that's my own take on it, applying what would be my own bitterness to her situation.
I fully intend to make a donation. It isn't JUST because my siblings and I were left out of our father's will in favor of a wife who wasn't even living with him when he died. It's mostly because it's the best way I can think of to let Lisa know just how much I admire her for her actions. I didn't publish the information here out of respect for Lisa's privacy, but if anyone else would like to do so, just leave me a comment and I'll get in touch with you with the information. Lisa is a special person, and if she can maintain her sunny, cheerful disposition in the face of what must be one of the most painful things she has ever experienced, she's a better person than I am.
But I'm pretty sure she already was.