I appreciate my mother immensely. She has been incredibly giving and kind. It’s been tremendous to have hot meals that don’t require my having to pull a flimsy plastic tray out of the microwave halfway through cooking so I can stir. It’s also sweet to have clean clothes. You can only flip out your underwear once before you start thinking, where did I go wrong in life?
But these bits of gratitude are boring. No one wants to read how awesome it is to ask my mother to bake the cookies I love and she does it! Or when I ask her to please watch the baby so I can take a nap and when I wake up, she’s cooing a Chamorro song to him. If I told you these tales, you’d say, “Mona, file that under ‘B’ for BLAH BLAH BLAH.”
So here is an abridged version, one I’ve filtered for some people who may live on a tropical island in the Pacific, oh let’s say SAIPAN, and might misconstrue the following as a jab at the woman who gave me life and not as a tribute to the woman who could take that life away, one CLEARLY written in jest.
My mother is a worrier, a panicker, a woman who starts cooking dinner at 3PM because she just found a recipe! It’s from 1977! When she first arrived to Seattle, her source of worry was the stacked HE washer and dryer upstairs. She complained, “I can’t do laundry because I’m scared! It could fall over!” I assured her that no, these heavy machines don’t just fall over. The dryer won’t just topple over and crush you. Maybe you should not clean such a large load? Like a WHOLE COMFORTER? A pair of large fuzzy dice? All the bathroom mats? The neighborhood preschool co-op?
But she didn’t believe it. I called out an appliance man who came over, unscrewed a few things, took a flashlight to survey the parts. An hour and a half and forty dollars later, he said that there wasn’t anything wrong with the washer and dryer. Their shocks were still in tact and perhaps, just perhaps, she shouldn’t OVERLOAD THE WASHER. That did satisfy her, mostly because it was an OFFICIAL ANSWER from someone else. Someone I paid $40 to tell me that I didn’t have a problem.
She is a backseat driver. She also taught me how to drive, which really explains how much I gasp and cringe and hold on my for dear life when my husband is in the driver’s seat. But when she’s in the backseat, I suddenly turn into Steve McQueen whenever I turn right and a car is several hundred yards behind me in the same lane. She could use my car and drive herself to Target, but this requires crossing two busy roads, and busy means something faster than a caribou and a cart is moving in its path. So I am the driver in all of our mercantile jaunts. I am the one who has to tell her that yes, I can drive this way. NO ONE IS DYING HERE, NO NEED TO YELL.
She loves advertisements. We went to a birthday party and she loved the mango lemonade so much I had to ask my friend for the label so she could keep it. My mother has a lot of labels. Labels from breads and beverages and sauces that she wants to remember. They’re clipped together until she can ask, “Mona can you find this!?” Often, it’s just the name of the bread, but no other information. No company name, or city where it’s baked. But at every store I have to ask, do you have this bread? Please don’t give me that look, ma’am. It exists. Here is the worn plastic label my mother has smuggled into this country. Look.
The other night, she wanted to buy a beauty product because its informercial was on TV. Right when the words CALL NOW! FIVE MINUTES LEFT, she jumped up and forced me on the phone. I tried to tell her that these ads are pre-taped and the offer will still be there in five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen years. But it was no use. I had to call up right then, but while I was trying to talk to the quick-mouthed operator who kept adding in offers like, “So you’ll also receive a trial membership of blah blah blah which you can cancel by calling blah blah blah” and to which I kept refusing, she was in the background bellowing, “ASK IF THIS IS GOOD FOR BRUNETTES! WHAT DO YOU GET FOR BRUNETTES! JUST ASK!” Readers, this was while the informercial was running, at the very moment the narrator was saying, “Choose BRUNETTE if you have brown hair.” So it was frustrating dealing with Shady Telephone Guy, appeasing my mom who again needed someone other than her college educated daughter to tell her what what the informercial was also saying and asking Shady Telephone Guy the question anyone who hasn’t been in a medically induced coma could answer: Yes, choose brunette if you have brown hair.
My mother does and doesn’t understand the internet. She does understand the concept of researching people, but then she says something like, “Can you find [insert Spanish name] in Texas? Is it on the internet?” The internet is a many things, mother, but it can best help you if you give it more than a common name in a large state to find that person you met once at a sewing conference. It is a fiery beast and I shove messages like this into its soft underbelly where it sits and stews until someone figures out what a blog is and discovers that is not really my online dedication to the Virgin Mary.