UPDATE: Read the latest in the Jackson family saga here.
What in the world is going on with the Jacksons? Last Wednesday, a letter was made public in which several of Michael Jackson’s siblings charged that their mother Katherine Jackson was “being mistreated by the executors of Michael Jackson’s estate and mis-advised by her manager and lawyer,” according to CNN. I didn’t think much of the claims, as Michael’s estate is worth hundreds of millions and feuds over how it’s distributed are unfortunately par for the course, even though he’s been gone for three years.
But I was alarmed when I woke up Sunday morning to news that Paris Jackson, Michael’s oldest daughter, was claiming that her grandmother, who has been the primary caretaker for Paris and her two brothers since their father died, was AWOL. “Yes, my grandmother is missing,” tweeted the 14-year-old. “I haven’t spoken with her in a week i [sic] want her home now.” In another tweet, Paris gave out her bodyguard’s phone number and asked people to call the police if they saw her grandmother. A Jackson nephew reported Mrs. Jackson, 82, missing, and Mrs. Jackson’s own attorney noted that she has never gone more than 24 hours without speaking to the children since becoming their primary caretaker.
I have a soft spot for children in general, but especially those who have lost a parent. And for the Jackson kids — much like Whitney Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina — perhaps the concern runs deeper than usual because I’ve watched them grow up in the spotlight and I feel an intimate connection to their parents via their music. That, and I watched the interview Oprah did with Paris — I just really liked the kid. She seemed surprisingly normal given all that she and her siblings had been through.
Jermaine Jackson came forward to say his mother was safe, with his sister Rebbie and resting in Arizona as per a doctor’s orders. He added that Mrs. Jackson was advised to stay away from phones and electronics, but that she is not being blocked from speaking with anyone.
By Sunday night, “law enforcement sources” told TMZ that they had made contact with Mrs. Jackson and she is not in danger. She backed up her son’s story and confirmed she is with a family member. Authorities are still investigating why that missing-person report was initially filed. There was no update on why she hadn’t been in contact with her grandchildren.
Is it me, or does something sound all-the-way-round fishy about this story? You mean to tell me that the woman left in charge of three children, the oldest of whom is just 15, is in regular contact with them for years, then all of a sudden doesn’t speak with them for a week, they have no clue where she is, and that’s supposed to be normal and okay? If there’s a medical issue with Katherine Jackson and she’s unable or unwilling to contact the children for whom she is primarily responsible, so be it. Those details are family business, not ours. But shouldn’t someone tell the grandchildren something — perhaps not the whole story so as not to upset them — and do it in under a week, so we don’t end up in this exact scenario of public pleas and missing-person reports that get a whole world of folks alerted to the goings-on inside the Jackson clan?
Surely there are more details to come. I just hope whatever it is that’s going on, folks can manage to pull it together for the sake of the kids. They’ve been through enough. We can likely all agree that what they need more than anything right now is love and stability, and the last is more drama. But that seems to be exactly what Michael Jackson’s children are facing.
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life (Atria), in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk