The Advocate

She would never know. But she was proud. She had not taken the easy path, and her life journey took her to several far away places. She wasn’t always there physically, but spiritually she was. She had always been his Champion — his Advocate. She rarely spoke about her son, Barry, to her colleagues, but when she did, she remarked, “He is brilliant.”

As a young girl herself, she had not been able to feel comfortable at school or any one place, for they had moved many times: Kansas, California, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington state, including the end of her junior year, to Hawaii. She had no choice in the matter, her father had decided when and where they moved. She felt like an outsider; she had to find her calling and her voice for herself. That she found much later, as an expat, in Indonesia, but she still was always an outsider: a white woman born in Kansas. She knew more about Indonesian culture, and Championed their causes, way more that most Indonesian natives could ever imagine or care. She got a PhD eventually by studying the culture meticulously, but she could not be fully Indonesian, she was always viewed as an American white woman.

Moreover, her first born child would declare her as a “white woman from Kansas” – in a nationally televised speech. Heard by millions of Americans, glossing over a singular life – a woman who had not seen much of Kansas, and had two children from two different husbands, neither being American or white, and had studied Indonesian culture so intensely and traveled much of Southeast Asia. A “white woman” – indeed?

Continue reading