My parents, Ken and Alberta, first met in Chicago in 1950. My dad had a car and his best friend asked him if he could take him to a girl’s house to ask her to a dance. The girl was my mother’s older sister, Frankie. Instead of staying in the car, my dad decided to go into the house too. He was curious about the house because he had heard stories about the lady (my great grandmother) who was a psychic medium and held seances every night in the basement. As my dad was wandering through the house (on his way to the seance room) he ran right into my great grandmother who promptly redirected him and told him he could wait for his friend in the living room. My mother happened to be in the living room watching t.v. My dad introduced himself and asked my mom if she wanted to go to the dance with him. She said yes. At the dance, my dad danced with every girl except my mom. After that, my parents went their separate ways. My dad was invited into the Marine Corps and my mom taught school for awhile before eventually leaving Chicago to attend medical school.
Ten (+) years later when my mom finished medical school, she sent my dad an invitation to her graduation. My dad did not go to the graduation. Instead, when my mom returned home to Chicago, he took her to dinner to celebrate. They were married within the year.
Soon, my older sister, Aellyn, was born and then my middle sister, Ayn, came along. My father always told my mom that he wanted a big family. At that time, my mom was content with just the two girls. By then, my mom had become a child Psychiatrist (specializing in children ages 11 and under). She was very busy. But, my dad, as usual, had a special knack for getting things to go his way.
At that time, my dad was an avid African Art collector. A friend of his had given him a pair of Ibeji dolls (fertility dolls from Ghana). The friend cautioned my dad about keeping the dolls together. He also advised my dad against keeping them in the bedroom— that is, if he intended to have no more children. Naturally, my dad put the dolls in the bedroom (he wanted a big family).
Nine months later, my twin sister, Akwelle and I were born. My dad made sure to give us Ghanaian names. In protest, my mother called us “Baby A” and “Baby B” for quite awhile. She was not thrilled with these unusual names from Ghana. Akwelle means first born female twin and Akuokuo means second born female twin. Had we been boys, my dad planned on naming us Romulus and Remus (after the founder’s of Rome).
When I was a senior at Brown University, I wrote my parents detailing my plans of “exploring the arts” for the rest of my life starting with cooking school. My father was amused. My mother had a fit. “I did not pay all that money for you to end up in somebody’s kitchen,” she said. I became the office manager of my mom’s psychiatric practice and explored the arts in my free time.
My twin s sister, Akwelle, is my mom’s assistant.
My older sister, Aellyn, is a behavioral therapist—also working in my mom’s practice as well as a singer/ songwriter. She has two children, Amy (recent college grad.) and Kenneth (currently in acting school).
My middle sister, Ayn, is a psychologist specializing in PTSD. She is not currently actively participating in our mom’s stroke recovery.
We all have different ways of coping with stress. When my father was ill with non-hodgkins lymphoma, my middle sister, Ayn, did the same thing. She just could not be present for the day to day process.
Instead she chose to wait it out, thinking things would get better once our dad finished treatment. His treatment was progressing well, but he contracted pneumonia and quickly died. This devastated my middle sister Ayn. She has truly never been the same since. Again, we all have different ways of coping with stress. Some, of course, are more productive than others.
I, for example, love Keith Urban. I got the Player by Keith Urban DVDs for Christmas. I am learning to play the guitar.
Of course, I also have a serious chocolate problem.
And, I am the reigning fantasy daydreaming queen. I often find myself looking into the sky, watching the clouds. Suddenly, I am transported to an alternate reality where Keith Urban and I live in New Mexico on our avocado ranch. We are raising our triplet boys Kash, Koal and Kolt. Keith is a gentleman farmer and I am a ceramicist. All in good fun!
My twin sister, Akwelle, on the other hand, has been coping with stress by writing. Her latest blog is called Make Some Dough (a dough diary). Click the link below to take a look:
It is not easy being a caretaker for a parent. It is not easy seeing them down and out. But maybe one day my middle sister will visit our mother. And maybe she too will find strength in our mom’s will to survive. To her credit, Ayn did play a pivotal role in getting an abusive night time aide fired at the nursing home/ rehab facility where our mom spent 3 months of her recovery.
I almost forgot to mention our two very special canine family members. Kookaburra (Lab/ Border Collie mix) and Brooke (Sheltie). They are true healers!