Somehow I manage to keep a smile... Waking up this morning, I thought, "wow.. Christmas is tomorrow." I'm more excited for my children, because they have NO IDEA what I got them for Christmas presents -- I bought them cell phones. On one hand, I feel bad because I couldn't fill the entire living room with presents for them. On the other hand, I've managed to provide for them all year -- even during times when I thought I couldn't.
This morning, I received the horrible news that John Hampton (my mom's long-term boyfriend) died in his sleep. At first I was shocked -- and I stopped myself from going through this huge array of emotions. For starters, I didn't know what to feel... John and I weren't exactly the closest -- while he was known throughout Detroit as my "manager," he was really more of a fan. He didn't have any children of his own, and I know that he took to me like his "son." He was very proud of my music career, and when I made an accomplishment, it was like HE made an accomplishment.
I had a bit more respect for him as a result of my mother's death. He was the one who found my mother's body the morning she died -- ironically, she died in HER sleep as well... Now that I think about it, John and my father shared the same birthday... But that's a different story.
Anyway, I went through today feeling rather numb. That is, until I went to my Aunt Michelle's house for a family dinner.
For starters, I was so pissed at my sisters Melva and Angie, for not going... Michelle really wanted us to meet her boyfriend's family -- they'd just moved into their new house together, and in true Leo fashion (LOL), wanted to celebrate. I can relate. LOL!!! So the dinner was going rather smoothly -- just like in the movie Soul Food... The family laughed and joked together. We said a prayer, and dinner was served. I noticed that Stefan (my oldest son) wasn't eating... In fact, he looked quite pissed off. When I asked him why, he said he overheard some of the other people talking about me. They were making fun of the way I talk (something I've gotten all of my life), etc. Of course, when it was time to eat, he'd also overheard them saying "oh, you KNOW that FAT MAN wants some food!"
Seriously, I didn't hear them myself... But then again, I've learned how to just "not notice" these things. It killed me to see my child's feelings hurt. While I told Stefan to "just ignore it," I knew that it wasn't good enough. Stefan wanted to curse those bitches out -- and he had every good damn reason to... Mind you, if it was just ME, I would've just let it roll off my shoulders. (Notice how they didn't DARE say that shit to my face?) But come on... In front of my CHILD? REALLY???
Stefan was so hurt, as I said before, he wouldn't eat. He didn't want anything to do with them... So on that note, we left. It was a bittersweet moment because I commend Stefan for keeping his cool, as angry as he was. I felt PROUD that my son wanted to protect his father! But during the drive home, I couldn't help but feel BAD... It reminded me of all the teasing I had to endure in High school -- hell, since BIRTH... It took me back to my insecurities -- "oh, you sound like a GIRL..." Just because I wasn't a thug, or whatever... It was the same insecurity that made me ashamed to sing... I HATE that my CHILDREN have to suffer because of society's ignorance!
So here I am... barely after 8PM on Christmas Eve. I'm at home -- the only REAL place I feel safe in this world... I LOVE my sons for sticking up for me. I HATE the fact that after all these years of growing and learning, that I still have to endure this bullshit.
I have to keep it together!! I cannot break down... Even though my heart is aching right now, I MUST be strong for my boys. They WILL have a good Christmas, in spite of...
Okay, I've vented. I'm wiping tears from my eyes because I REFUSE to let them fall... Tomorrow, I'll show my sons the true meaning of Christmas -- the TRUE meaning of family... Or better yet, I'll smile because my sons have shown ME... We may have our ups and downs, but when it all comes down to it, we're STILL FAMILY -- and my children LOVE me. Tonight has proven that... What better Christmas present could I ask for?