**If you missed the first two parts of this fascinating new mini series, please go here and here. Below is my youngest brother Kevin’s account of that same day. Kevin is six years younger than I and owns his own business, Dibbz, in New Orleans.**
Unless you grew up idolizing Babe Ruth, eating smores in a tree house, and playing baseball on your own private field, your childhood had nothing on mine. Nothing. I was the oldest member of an adventurous and nearly inseparable group of neighborhood kids. We rode bikes without wearing helmets. We climbed trees as tall as the rooftops of the block’s first few McMansions. There was a ditch full of murky water, populated with exotic turtles, which separated us from the railroad tracks that helped to flatten our boring pennies into Picasso-esque masterpieces. Moms, including my own, dealt with the ensuing piles of muddy shoes and frantic snack breaks we required to maintain the frequency of our high adventures. Dads came home from work around five or six, calling us all back home to our respective dinner tables, marking the end of a full day. This was life as I knew it at nine years old, and it was great.
From my perspective, things didn’t change dramatically after the infamous Sunday morning family meeting, which might explain why very few details stick out in my memory about that day. It began when I was briefly pulled away from my friends and a game that might have resembled soccer on a neighbor’s lawn. My dad actually came outside to get my attention, which was rare. He also used the term “family meeting” which was equally unprecedented. Those were for Kevin Arnold’s family in The Wonder Years, not Kevin Best’s on East Livingston Place in the real world. Inside the house, there were tears, but they weren’t mine. I was actually in a rush to get back out there and explain to my neighborhood friends how I had just become one of those kids – the ones with divorced parents. I went to grammar school with many of them and it seemed more normal than having a traditionally intact family. I also remember asking my parents if they would ever get back together. It wasn’t complete unfamiliarity with the idea of homosexuality so much as a miscalculation concerning the significance of one fact versus the other. My nine year-old brain processed the idea of divorce immediately, but it had yet to tackle what it would mean to have a gay father. I had never been exposed to an opinion, positive or negative, concerning the homosexual label so it flew under the radar. When it came right down to it, I never expected either of my parents to stop caring for me or to disappear so that was that. I went back outside to play.
Growing up over the next twenty years was relatively easy and I remained emotionally unscathed. After the divorce, my parents conducted themselves far better around us than many of my friends’ married parents. As cheesy Lifetime movies often remind us, life doesn’t always work out as planned. It certainly didn’t play out the way any of us expected it to before the family meeting, but Mom and Dad managed to hold us together and the Best family continues onward…