The Alexander Oldenbourg Memorial Scholarship

Yesterday the Chief and I were in court yet again–this time to legally finalize our poisoned inheritance, the estate of our late son, Alex.

Given the behavior of the Chief’s family, I can’t–at the time of writing this–predict with any confidence the outcome of the hearing. Over the past four years they have revealed themselves to be capable of nearly anything.

What I can say with bleak and absolute certainty is that this proceeding is the last thing any parent would ever want to face.

At least, most parents.

I’m writing about this now not because of the timing of the estate hearing (Happy Valentine’s Day!) but because DACA–still unresolved–remains a thoracic thorn in the two-ring circus we collectively call Congress.

Let me tell you what the Chief and I intend to do with our inheritance.

Once the Kid is safely through college in her own right–and this should allow us the time to grow Alex’ estate to sufficient proportions–we’re going to found the Alexander Oldenbourg Memorial Scholarship. As it currently stands, the idea is to fund a year of tuition here at Fresno State for so many years as we’re able to. And, depending upon how well we do managing the money and encouraging outside support, we can consider adding candidates or expanding the scholarship to include living expenses.

We’ll have a lot to figure out.

Beginning with who the candidates should be.

Right off the bat, the Chief said, “Dreamers.”

Up yours, congressional Republicans.

Alex would have loved it. Hypocrisy of any stripe pissed him off, he couldn’t be bribed–even by us, even when he was a kid–and he would have loved sticking a finger (you know which one) in the eye of those who don’t honor their promises.

So, of course, yes–living with him was hell. We had colossal arguments because neither of us were close to perfect; I, though terrified, was trying to raise him, and he, terrified himself much of the time, was searching.

I’d be lying if I failed to admit that I was frequently in his cross-hairs.

Forget about walking on proverbial egg shells. It got to a point where I could tread a length of rice paper like Kwai Chang Caine without leaving any evidence I had ever done so. Living with a bi-polar alcoholic will teach you how to accomplish that. And, I assure you, I was there. Every step of the way.

And in a way Alex was akin to the Dreamers in that he too was brought here, not of his own accord, and made to accustom himself to his surroundings.

By here I mean Earth.

He got so far, officially, as eighth grade. As did I, until Berkeley. But university wasn’t for him. He tried, following my footsteps at College of the Redwoods–a JC in Eureka–and found he did not like it.

There were many things he did not like. Like work. He was a champion shirker. Handing him a broom once, I asked him to sweep the front porch steps.

“How do I work this thing?” he asked. Genius.

And I think he was–although he would accept no compliment from me, ever. We knew fairly early on in his high school years that he would never graduate. Still, we insisted he attend every day. I never saw him reading anything substantive–certainly never a newspaper–and he never watched any news with the Chief and me.

How he knew so much, apparently effortlessly–very nearly inherently–continues to mystifies us.

But that was Alex. A bit of a conundrum. He had so many of the advantages that a good life can bestow, yet he could not enjoy them.

So we’ll find people with fewer advantages in life and use one of Alex’ to give them a leg up.

I hope it helps.

It will never help me.

Joseph Oldenbourg

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