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Monday, December 13

Five Things About My Mother

It’s my mother’s birthday today. Here are five things about her:

1) From the time I was seven, my mother and I played chess about once a week. She never let me win, though she would let me take some moves back and from time to time point out her strategy before she executed it. By the time I was 13 and—occasionally—winning, it actually meant something.

2) My mother was nine when the Communist Revolution in Cuba occurred. My grandparents sent her away to boarding school in America before Castro seized their assets. I don't think she fully appreciated the concept of ‘better separated-from-your-parents-and-in-a-foreign-country than red.’

3) When the James Bond movie ‘Licensed to Kill,’ came out. I told her that the title had been changed from ‘License Revoked,’ after marketing surveys revealed that a substantial portion of the U.S. market did not know what the word ‘revoked’ meant. My mother said that not recognizing a word in the title would make her want to a movie. She actually meant that.

4) She has terrible luck with plants. No one knows why, but when she figured out that she did well with orchids, her house filled up with them, making it appear as if she has an amazing green thumb.

5) When I took some time off from college and went to a writing program in Chicago, I was living off cigarettes, coffee and bread pudding. (A loaf of bread, a pint of milk, 4 eggs, and a cup of sugar: you won’t feel hungry for five days) I would make these terribly depressing phone calls, convinced that I had Cancer or AIDS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. (Why else would I be losing all this weight?) She would somehow walk an impossible line of indulging my paranoia without being condescending, and bring me back to reality. I would then get an extra check in the mail with a card telling me that I needed to eat better. Which is a roundabout way of saying that she loves me and has always made sure that I knew I was loved.


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