Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day, Dia de las Madres

From reading my blog, I'm pretty sure you all know I am very close to my mom. It wasn't always that way. When I was little and she was excessively stressed (imagine the mother of FIVE children) and we would have our close encounters. I admit I was a bit "malcriada." Malcriada, "eres una malcriada", what a bad term, literally meaning I was raised wrong, or I was sassy and smartalicky, I can still remember, I could force the remark by making a disrespectful answer, or by simply replying to my elders, because in "those" days, you just did not answer back or it could be brought on because I wanted to do my chores when I wanted to do them, I don't remember everything, but I was not a santa, a saint. In any case, I remember being chased around the dining room table and my mom wanting to smack me, and I was outrunning her while saying," I'm sorry, I'm sorry, Mom," and she replying sure, you're sorry now and still chasing after me. I am laughing now as I write it, because it had its humor to it. The dance around the table I mean and sometimes I was convincing, others not.


Joking aside though, Mom was real tough. She was still chasing us even when we were in our late teens and some, who will remain nameless, into their early twenties. Some where in my teen years though after I more or less challenged mom to her disciplinary methods, Mom realized that smacking me was getting her nowhere and she starting talking to me. By then big serious issues had come up, especially about boys, dating, sex, and she started visiting my room after a disagreement, and began to tell me stories. Stories her mother had told her, stories about her life, her friends, relationships, hardships, but especially about making bad choices.

Some of these stories were allegorical or metaphorical (take your pick), like the one about the girl dancing with a handsome young man who had fire under his feet, except you didn't see the fire until he walked away. Scary to think you were dancing with a devil, especially if that person is leading you to a bad path. Then she told me a story about goodness, personified in a distant cousin, who always wanted to be a nun, and when the parents relented she quickly caught tuberculosis, and died. She got it from caring for the sick. It seemed her destiny in a sense. Mom always said she was really a saint, una santa.

Then she told me stories about her life, when she dated a handsome American soldier who proposed to her, but he never came back and the heartbreak. She didn't exactly moralize anything, but instead, she let me interact with her stories through my questions. Of course, Mom is still telling stories today, mostly about her relatives, and of course, her travels, especially to Washington D.C. and New York. There's the one in D.C. about the color of her skin being whiter than that of the Americanas and their surprise and her pride, and then the one about some acquaintance in New York, trying to impress "los Americanos" at Coney Island, by saying curse words in English, which she rattled off, like a string of cheap beads, and then here I was shocked because, English is my strongest language and I understood what she said, and I never said those words and neither did she! I laughed.

I still laugh, especially at her riddles and bilingual jokes. You have to be bilingual to understand them. Her riddle about the man on his way to Rome, and how he picks up a whole bunch of people on the way or the one about the basket of oranges. Mom is 85, and I love her, with all her faults and her strengths. She raised us as well as she could, with the winds some times buffetting her face and other times filling her sails. Feliz dia de las Madres, Mami. Te quiero mucho.

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