It’s a bright and sunny Sunday morning – my favorite time of day.
Despite it being Easter Sunday (which is sacred in itself for spiritual rebirth and family fellowship), this time of day offers my favorite reading material of the week – the Sunday Edition. Today, I was lucky enough to be given today’s New York Times paper with an interesting magazine cover on top of the piling. The cover was a vintage picture of a young white mother with black shorts with her adorable son dressed up as a pirate in brown sandals for Halloween with the title “Why She Went: When Barry Obama was 6 years old, his mother moved him to Indonesia. It was a decision that would define his life and hers.” That adorable pirate and that Barry Obama are one in the same – he would later become our President Barack Obama.
His life story is the stuff of folklore almost – absent father, caring and supportive grandparents and mother raising him, having to figure out where he belongs as a teenager and young adult, finding his footing to go to Columbia for undergrad, law school, working as a community organizer only to ascend even higher and higher as a senator and finally, the President of the United States. If you haven’t read his memoir, it is definitely a requirement for any educated person. But little is known about his mother, the woman who fell in love with and married a charismatic and articulate Kenyan from the University of Hawaii, producing a baby boy that would be “king” so to speak.
After the divorce, she met and married a grad student named Lolo Soetoro from the Indonesian island of Java. She later moved to Indonesia with her young son in tow to begin her international adventure of raising children, working, and travelling the world. It’s kind of incredible to have a mother like that.
All the while, she was instilling in her six-year-old son the manners, morals, and widened, world perspective that would be his signature persona as an adult. The new Mrs. Soetoro had her son reading from workbooks, encouraging him to be “a combination of Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, and Harry Belafonte.” High standards for sure but somehow I think she succeeded in her task.
What internal strength it must have taken to move away from everyone and everything you know to submerge yourself in a completely new culture and country to marry the man you love. Bravery and courage almost seem too simple to use in describing such a feat. It was something steely and powerful inside of this “mild-mannered” Kansas native – almost like Clark Kent with the heart and soul of Superman.
I reflect on this chapter of her life with relief, relief to know that my new adventure has been travelled by one of the most influential people in American history. Okay, this is just MY OPINION but the mother of President Barack Obama was the person that shaped him to be the man, leader, father, husband, brother, and human being that we all have the privilege to know and respect. Therefore, she is a part of American history, one of the many stories from the American Dream.
I’m not going to say that I am not afraid of this new adventure that I am on in a week but I will say that I am more calm and even resolute to this new chapter. I think I have that travelling spirit of Stanley Ann Dunham, ready to meet my destiny no matter where it takes me. I pray that God will lead my heart to that destination and that I will trust in His plan for me.
Happy Easter, everyone!