When my mother was growing up in a small village in the Philippines, she was a beauty. She still is a beauty. She won a small beauty pageant when she was 19.
When I was growing up in Queens, I had bad skin and frizzy hair that I sometimes cut myself and I was fat. I won the district wide spelling bee in fifth grade, an honor that came with a medal and a trophy and a blue satin jacket from The New York Daily News that had the legend DISTRICT WIDE SPELLING BEE CHAMPION on the back.
I must have had a lot of juice because somehow I got an extra jacket that fit my dad perfectly and he would wear with pride until, like, LAST YEAR. He’d get hearty congratulations from strangers on the subway when he wore the jacket. And he wore that thing all the time.
When my mom was my age, she had just moved from the relative tranquil of Okinawa to the strange place that is Queens. We lived in a one room apartment with my dad’s parents. I have no idea how four adults and three children lived in so small an apartment.
I currently live in a one room apartment (I prefer to think of my studio as a “mini loft”). I have no in-laws or children, but I do have waaaay too much stuff .
My mother puts up with a lot of bullshit from me. A lot of times when I don’t call or visit enough, don’t tell her enough about my life. Not because I don’t want to share, but because I foolishly think she won’t care or, even worse, understand what I am talking about. I spent part of my life underestimating her, and I don’t think I could do enough to make up for it. If I could afford to send her a gift every day for a year, and not just one day a year, that wouldn’t begin to pay her back for her humor, her patience, her faith, and her wisdom.
But for now, the card and the [redacted! she hasn’t gotten it yet] I ordered from Amazon will have to be a start.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy. I love you so much.