My mother Part 1
I've been thinking about my mom a lot lately, which isn't to say that I don't think about her everyday--which I do--but I've been thinking specifically about writing about her.
I've been listening to Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, the audiobook, and really enjoying it. (I realize those two previous graphs are two totally different ideas and maybe shouldn't be placed so closely together but just relax, reader. We'll get there. Together.)
So Gilbert eloquently talks about Inspiration. And when she does, she talks about it as this a companion, not meant to torture the creative soul but really looking for the person to help manifest that idea. It's brilliant and I recommend her book to everyone, especially those who have blog/podcast/vlog/video/book/poems/paintings/sculptures/artartart ideas sitting inside their brains. We file those ideas in the back brain and we want to make sure the conditions are absolutely perfect when we start our creation but Gilbert says, essentially, in part of her book, that you should just start.
Get it done.
So every time I listen to her book, a few ideas that have been sorted in my back brain, they start to stretch, come alive, surge and fill the rest of my brain. A book idea, ideas about poetry (and I generally don't fuck with poetry) and blog post ideas. Podcast ideas. All these ideas play out in my imagination while I listen to Gilbert speak about Big Magic.
Gilbert's book is so good. She talks about ideas being transferred from one person to the next, looking for the person who will make them a reality. I love that! I love that ideas will go to all of us and see who's ready to create them and work with them to manifest them into the world.
Anyway, Big Magic is fantastic and I HIGHLY recommend.
One of the ideas that jumped out of my back brain when I would listen to Big Magic was writing about my mother. Writing about her in a poem (oh god) or a blog post. (Ahhh, the connection is made. Big Magic and mom)
She passed away in 2012. Which doesn't explain who she is because she is more than her death.
She is my mother.
Her smile takes up her whole face.
It's almost like her whole body smiles.
You can see from these line breaks that now that it comes to writing to about my mother, my fingers don't so freely navigate this keyboard. How do I explain to you, who's most likely never known her, a woman, a soul, who's shaped almost every part of my life?
She helped a lot of people. She was always helping people. (As a natural-born curmudgeon, I never understood such a choice but she would say that if it were her kids, she'd want someone else to treat them well.) And she was patient. She was thoughtful. She--
Maybe it's better to write an anecdote.
In 5th grade I switched schools and there was a period of time when I didn't want to go to school. I think I missed a week of school. I wasn't sick but I had an overwhelming feeling that school had to be avoided at all costs.
Every morning when I was dropped to school (even after this stint of truancy) I had a feeling of dread inside me. It would creep up when we neared the school and would fill my stomach, weighing me down when we reached the campus. The cars would pull up one by one, doors open, a kid exits and the car drives away. As our car inched closer to the front of the line and the time came closer to when I was supposed to get out of the car, I can remember an immobilizing trepidation churning inside me. A school aide would open the door and coax me out. Generally I did as I was told, largely because I was born with a people-pleasing chromosome in my DNA. The FEELING usually dissipated by lunch or recess or whatever. But it always came back, every morning.
But one day the dread was too much. I called it in, I told my mom not to drop me off and could I please just go tomorrow. She obliged.
This happened for about a week. Maybe two weeks?
No one was particularly rude or bullying me and at the time I didn't know it but now I know that it was basically anxiety and it was crippling in the sense that I could not bring myself to go to overcome that morningtime fear. I think part of it was the fact that I was a new kid and I didn't have any friends yet. But even after I made friends, I would still get that FEELING in the morning in the moments before the school aide would open the car door.
I was good at school. I was a smart student. I was conscientious and I did the work. There wasn't really anything about education that I feared.
My mother, patient as ever, asked me why I didn't want to go to school. Age has blurred most of that conversation for me but I recall that it was in my bedroom when she asked. We were alone. I told her all the girls in my class had better clothes than me. She bought a new outfit a new backpack and new shoes that I liked. I didn't know it was anxiety and that she couldn't really buy anything to quell that. (I guess a therapist, but mind you I'm a first-generational "migrant" so you can take that guess to the sewer).
I wore all the new things and planned to go school despite the FEELING still inside me. The day I was supposed to return to school, I still begged my parents not to let me go. I negotiated my feelings on the way to school. On one hand there was comfort in having the new things but the FEELING lurked and grew. My parents parked in the parking lot after I begged them not to follow the assembly line of car doors, opening, emptying, and closing.
While in the parking lot, I continued to cry and begged to go back home. Somehow my teacher showed up in the parking lot to help my parents convince me to get out and go to class. This was mortifying. My teacher was a witness to me, snot-nosed and hysterical, vulnerable.
It was outrageous to me that my parents would involve this outsider in this situation.
It became a hostage situation. I held myself hostage. I jumped into the back of our pathfinder and held the back door closed as my teacher (and maybe even my dad?) tried to pry it open from the outside. I remember I was in tears and screaming and begging.
Actually fuck this story, I'm just reliving my scarred childhood. The point is that my mom, even though we were poor, bought me a new outfit and a backpack and shoes. She never really raised her voice at me, not even in that hostage situation. I'm sure she would've been telling me in Palauan to stop and just go to class, "Sisich er rengum." I don't quite remember what was said exactly.
Anyway I went to class that day and the days after that. And I've since survived subsequent, sometimes equally distressing, school days.
Back to my mother.
When I was a teenager, my mom and I would spend a considerable amount of time in the car and those are maybe my favorite times. We would talk about everything.
We used to watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians together. Kim had her old nose then. Everyone in the cast pretty much had their old everythings.
When she went to Palau after my dad died, she came back with a newfound obsession for Kdramas and she got my brothers and I hooked on them too.
There was never anything I wouldn't tell her. I am grateful to have that kind of relationship with her.
She stressed the importance of talking to us when we did something wrong. She explained why it was wrong. It was something I didn't really appreciate when I was in trouble. I understood the importance of that more, after my brothers had kids, and she would encourage them not to just admonish their kids but to explain and talk to them about why they shouldn't do certain things.
She was a wealth of patience.
This is part 1 because I anticipate writing more about my mother. Inspiration and I will work together on other mediums to memorialize her.