My mom left yesterday. We had brunch at Denny’s, where she told me to steal a menu. Yes, my mom took a menu–not the big main menu but one of those advertisement on the table print ours that highlight some new dishes–and told me to put it in her purse.
This is such a crazy concept to people, especially to those who live in here in the mainland where mothers come and visit for a weekend, not bring two suitcases and live with you for two months. They come in and take your kids out to the zoo and come back and you say, oh that was nice, see you in a few months! But I’m from Saipan and my mom will use my address to send purchases from companies who don’t know where Saipan is and that it is a US territory (I have a passport!) and my mom will visit without my ever asking once, “When will you be leaving?”
When my mom was flying in, I didn’t even know her departure date. I thought it would be in July, then she changed it to June because my stairs were making her tired. I guess I live in a Shao-Lin temple, or a stairmaster that has no calorie-burning qualities because I still have a huge ass.
But still. My mom was coming and that was that.
Nathan took a while to warm up to my mom, after not seeing her for so long. “I don’t want to make her feel bad but I only like to hug and kiss you and daddy.” This took some time because Nathan has boundaries, something I never had on Saipan where I was directed to hug and kiss on command. It’s disrespectful, they would say. It’s American.
So we worked on teaching Nathan that Grandma is not a stranger, Grandma deserves hugs and kisses because we love her. He started with handshakes.
Then hugs came and even though they were more routine (“It’s time for the morning hug, Grandma!”), my mom still loved every moment.
My mom was so helpful while she was here. Every day I would come home to a dinner! Already made! Someone interested in talking to me about my day! There was a lot of food and sometimes my mom would say, “You are very slim!” It was like a choir of angels descended onto earth to let me know my pants made me look nice and it was okay to eat rice with this meal because IT’S RICE NOT POISON. Everywhere in the world they are eating rice and starving for rice and satiating whole villages who never ever say, “I can’t eat rice because I’m on a diet!”
It was fun but every exhausting, emotionally and financially. I can’t tell my mom I won’t commit a menu-theft crime for her and I can’t tell her that Wal-Mart is too far away and not my favorite place in this world. It’s not. But Chamorros like my mom love Wal-Mart because Saipan doesn’t have the same selection and people like my mother love to look. Their eyes get big as they pass through the shifting landscape of the aisles. The carts grow heavy under the weight of, “This is cheap, let’s buy it.”
So I let my wallet and bank account drain to bring my mom some mercantile happiness, let her introduce whatever it was she put into the cart like I had never heard of this thing. Swiffer sweeper? It just cleans your floors? You’re right mom, I should have this. See, where would I be without you, mom?
And now my mom is back on Saipan, where it was so hot, I would walk around with wet hair until it dried all curly and crazy. She has some dresses I packed for my sister, some gifts for my nieces and a menu I would be willing to steal for her all over again if it meant she wouldn’t have to leave so soon.