My baby brother sent those words to me by text on his last day of high school about ten days ago. Those words brought tears to my eyes and today, as I watched him graduate, I tried to keep my tears hidden. When they called his name, I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry because of the road that led him to the “rest of his life.” First, I want you to know that I played a role in his upbringing and he is an important part of my life. I am so very proud of him for being ALL (yes with all caps) that he is despite all the obstacles were in front of him from the day that he was born.
I was almost sixteen when Kam was born. My father became ill when my baby brother was four months old. My mother spent the next four years at my father’s side and taking care of him through his long illness. My father died a month after Kam turned four. From the moment my father became ill, my sisters and I, ages 18, 16, and 15 became Kam’s primary caretakers. After my father’s death in 1995 (my brother was only four years old), my mother found herself distant from Kam so my sisters and I continued to take care of our baby brother even after we have moved on with our own adult lives. For every important event in my life, Kam was an important part and I treated him as I did my own children. My youngest sister who is six years younger than me took care of him after we, the three oldest girls, moved out and even though the three of us were involved his life, she was the one who took care of him at their home.
My mother remained distant and never really had a relationship with him because my father’s needs prior to his death and then his death remained heavy on her mind. Further, my two other brothers, who were 15 and 16 at the time of my father’s death, were getting in all sorts of trouble by rebelling and keeping my mom busy so she never really had a relationship with Kam. In addition, she was struggling financially and she had a lot of worry about. As the years went on, my mother became more and more distant so everything that Kam needed fell on the shoulders of his older sisters and we took care of him as we did our own children. In a sense, my sisters and I were the only “parents” he ever really knew and he has never forgotten that especially on Mother’s Day.
So fast forward to 2010 as his name is called as a graduate of the Class of 2010, I think about how wonderful he turned out despite not having a father in his life, a distant mother, and older brothers who were never around. No male influence in his life and he turned out to be amazing – would you believe that? He graduated with honors, even though he worked every evening, six nights a week. Moreover, he was accepted at a great college (two hours away) with most of his education covered by scholarships. I know that my sisters and I played a role that but he could have given up at any time due to the lack of support from my mother and brothers, but he choose not to and for that, I am grateful today and I am so very proud.
I decided that I would blog about him and his accomplishment so every one of you would see what a great young man he turned into despite the 101 obstacles in his way. I am so very proud of you, Kam and I know that you will continue to make us proud, baby brother.
“Today is the first day of the rest of my life.”