Showing posts with label the mama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the mama. Show all posts

Monday, April 21, 2014

Reunited


If you were physically separated from your significant other, for whatever reason, would you still want to get back with him or her after a year? Five years? Thirty?

About a month after the Only and Older Bionic Brother was born, the Daddy, a naturalized U.S. citizen, returned to the United States. He realized that there would be more and better opportunities for his children in America than in the Philippines. This was in the late 1940s. He worked hard and within a year, he made enough money to book ship passage for the Mama and their son. The Mama did not want to leave her home and family. The Mama's mother told her that once she married, her life was with her husband's. She, the Mama, no longer belonged to the Grandmother. Thirteen months after the Daddy left, he and the Mama were reunited in their new home in California.

The stories of my two ninangs (godmothers) were different from the Mama.  They waited much, much longer to reunite with their spouses. The story of the ninongs (godfathers) and the Daddy, were similar, and to put the godparents' separation in context, I'll tell you a bit of that history. In the 1920s, the Philippines was a U.S. territory, which probably made it easier for Filipinos to travel as U.S. nationals. Throughout that decade, many of the young Filipino men, from all over the country, decided to go to Hawaii and the United States for the many jobs and good pay they were promised by agricultural recruiters and bragged about by friends and relatives who were already abroad. Most of the young men planned to work for a few years then return home with plenty of money to marry and start a family, if they had not one already. The Great Depression foiled their plans.

Ninang Deling and Ninong Mariano

She was 21 years old and he was nearly 24 when they married in 1924.  A son was born two years later. In 1928, Ninong Mariano and his brother sailed for the United States where they worked the farms for meager wages. Said Ninong Mariano, "The first time I came here, the wages were 35 cents an hour. During Depression, fifteen cents an hour. That was the best I could get. Some places it was twelve-and-a-half cents an hour."

He sent money home when he could. Ninang Deling made money for the family by taking vegetables from the province where she lived and selling them in Manila, then before returning home, purchased products to sell back home. She also made a living for her and son by sewing clothes. She said, "I was a seamstress. I sold clothes when I could. Sometimes I make five dresses for someone to buy. They used to pay me three pesos."

Ninang Deling and Ninong Mariano reunited in 1950. She was 47 years old. She had no conflict about leaving her home when her husband told her to come. Her son and her brothers were already in the United States. Ninang Deling said, "This is where my family was, so I come here. . . I (have) a good feeling."

Ninang Maxima and Ninong Vicente

They married in 1925 when she was 19 years old and he was 27. They had two children before he took off for America in 1929.  Over the years, he found jobs as a farm laborer and house boy. For 10 years, he worked in a Navy yard in California. Ninong Vicente said, "I liked to go back to Philippines, but no money. So I stay here. If you go there, you need lots of money to spend for the plane."

With the money her husband sent and the earnings she made from her sari-sari store, Ninang Maxima  managed to make a living for her family and send her son and daughter to school. Ninang Maxima said, "I am homesick to see my husband. When wartime, about five years, he didn’t write us. (There was) no mail to the Philippines."

Ninang Maxima finally reunited with her husband in 1959. "I didn’t recognize him when I came here. I didn’t know his face because it’s different. When he came here, he was young yet. When we got together, he’s old. I (was) 53. He was 60."

I'll do the math for you: Ninang Deling and Ninong Mariano were separated for about 22 years, while Ninang Maxima and Ninong Vicente were apart for 30 years. Amazing, isn't it?
I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this month. To check out other participants, click here. See you tomorrow.   

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How's the Mama?


The Mama, as some of you dear readers know, is in her nineties. The tiny, fragile, slow-stepping Mama is doing well, thank you very much for asking. She's as fit and magnificent as the flowers and vegetables that she grows. The only medication she takes is for her thyroid. I can only hope that I haven't screwed up the genes she gave me too awful much.

This morning, I found a poem that I wrote about the Mama two years ago when she was rushed to the hospital. The Mama is amazing.


The Sleeping Mama
Slipped into her ER room.
She was fast asleep,
Hooked up to the IV, heart monitor, and oxygen.

In one moment,
she could not move
no matter how hard she tried.
And, she tried, and kept trying, to stand up.

"Walking pneumonia," the doctor said.
"Dehydration."

What did she say? 
"This is going to cost me a lot."
© 2014 Su-sieee! Mac


I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this month. To check out other participants, click here. See you tomorrow.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Knowing the Language


Nearly 35 years ago, a college professor, who hailed from Australia, told me if it weren't for the awkwardness of my writing, I would've got a higher score on my paper. She forgave me for some of my usage and grammar because, according to her, "English is your second language."

For once, I kept my mouth closed rather than enlighten her on how wrong she was.

English is the only language I can read, write, speak, and understand fluently. Proficiently, too, except for the lapses in awkward writing and the proper use of grammar, word choice, and cliches. I'm especially good at forgetting articles (the, a, an, and so on) and getting prepositions mixed up, which, I think is because the Ilocano language has no articles and, as far as I can tell, one preposition.

As I was growing up the parents mostly spoke Ilocano to me while I spoke English to them. I still do that with the Mama, and the Husband finds it very strange. It's really not unusual with immigrant parents and their American-born children. Once, I tried talking to the parents in Ilocano, but they couldn't figure out what I was saying. "Your accent is funny," said the Mama, after she and the Daddy stopped laughing.

When I was a kid, many Filipinos who just immigrated to the U.S. thought I couldn't understand Ilocano. After all, I greeted them in English when they came to visit the Mama and the Daddy. It was inevitable when the parents weren't around that a visitor would say in front of me, but in Ilocano, "My, the daughter is fat!" Another visitor would respond, "She probably can eat a whole pig by herself." And, they would all snicker.

I pretended that I didn't understand, although when I became a teenager, it was very difficult not to put them in their place. But that was okay. I just waited for the moment when the Mama would ask me to serve refreshments. In Ilocano. Then, one of the visitors would ask awkwardly, "She can understand the language."

"Yes," the Mama would say. "She was born in the United States. Even though we speak to her in our language, she can only speak English."

The visitors always cringed and fidgeted.

As I write this I wonder if the Mama may have also overhead the visitors say rude things about me, and that was her way of getting back at them. After all, I rarely saw any visitors who talked "behind" my back come to the house again.
I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this month. To check out other participants, click here. See you tomorrow.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pruning is Done

Snap. Snap. Snap.

"Mama's always finding something to snap in the backyard," I said to the Husband, as I peeked out the back door to see what she was snapping.

"She'll always find something," said he.

The temperature was in the 50s. Very cold, she would complain, if she was inside the house.

Outside, she doesn't feel how cold it is because she says she's always moving. Always doing something in her garden. She has already dug up her vegetable boxes. I won't be surprised if she starts planting beans next month and then complains a month later why it takes so long for them to sprout.

That's the Mama. Keeps her strong, I know. She is, I believe, healthier than the Husband and me right now.

At least all the trees are pruned. The apple trees. The persimmon trees. The apricot tree. The miracle tree. The avocado trees. The ornamental pear tree on the front yard. Too bad we didn't have a prune tree to prune.

Of course, there is the lemon tree. However, I can't see any limbs sticking out that may be driving her buggy that they must be cut. But, then, what do I know.

I've been on the tall ladder quite a lot this winter.  Been enjoying it, too. The Husband's back mended just in time for him to get into the act a little bit.  Pruning is a family affair could be our motto.

Happy New Year, Dear Readers!



Thursday, October 10, 2013

Priorities


"Su-sieee!" the Mama called from the bottom of the stairs.

"Su-sieeeeeeee!" She shouted two seconds later. I had only begun to get my head out of whatever I was writing.

"Su-sieeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" She yelled louder.

"Hold on. Hold on." I called as I stumbled down the hallway to the stairs. "What is it?"

Silence.

Halfway down the stairs, the Mama held up a bottle and asked, "Do we have Windex?"

"Windex?"  I immediately envisioned her standing on the highest step of the tall ladder to clean the windows from outside. I peered at the label over my computer glasses. "This is Windex."

"It's not blue."

Oh, God, I thought. Will she ask me to go to the store now? Can I get her to use vinegar instead?

"Windex comes in different colors now," I said. "This has lemon in it."

"Okay," she said, taking the bottle from me.

"What are you going to do?"

"Too many spots (which she pronounces a-spots a-spots)," she mumbled. "I can't stand looking at them anymore."

"Here, let me do it," I said, reaching for the bottle.

"No, no, you go do your work," she said, not letting go of the bottle.

"I can do it," I said. Surprisingly, she didn't continue arguing.

For the next half hour, I did my best wiping away a-spots a-spots on the windows that she gazes through every morning as she peacefully eats her breakfast.

It was quite satisfying to do, I tell you what.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Another Year of Picking Tomatoes with the Mama


Sixty-nine pounds of organic tomatoes.

That's how many pounds of tomatoes the Husband, the Mama, and I picked at the Live Earth Farm in Watsonville yesterday.  The farm was having its last u-pick day for tomatoes, and, we were quite fortunate to learn about it just in time.

I have gotten spoiled. Maybe the Husband and the Mama have, too. For the last four years, we have picked enough organic tomatoes to freeze and use until the next tomato season. Frozen organic tomatoes taste almost as if they were just picked. That's reason one for me saying I am spoiled.

Reason number two is that I like seeing Mama enjoy herself as she picks tomatoes. I think it brings her back to the days of working in vegetable seed research. We bring her little green bench so that she can sit as she pick tomatoes in solitude under the warm sun. "Don't go too far," she always tells me, as I go to find my own row of solitude nearby, while the Husband walks toward the far end of the field.

I didn't think we would be picking tomatoes this year. The farm that we usually go to wasn't planning any public U-pick days. The Mama was very disappointed when I told her. So, I searched the Internet for organic farms in nearby counties and came across Live Earth Farm. She thought it was too far to go for tomatoes. "Just buy them at the store," she said. "It's the same price."

"$1.00 a pound. You can't get a better price for organic tomatoes," I said, already deciding to go whether or not the Mama accompanied us.

At the last second, the Mama decided to go with us. She doesn't like to travel much anymore, and she was quite a grumpy traveler, especially when we got lost finding the place. But, all was well after she plopped herself on her little green bench and plucked the first tomato off the vine.

When we hauled our boxes to the scales, she said, "Ask the farmer if he needs workers. We can come work for him. How much do you think he pays?" Before I could answer, she said sadly, "He won't hire me. I move too slow."

I don't know about that. She picked 24 pounds of tomatoes on her own. That's pretty darn good for a tiny 90+ year-old-woman.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Sweet, Sunny, and Sour


This has been a great summer for the Mama's backyard jungle. Trees, vines, and plants are producing like crazy. This is just a bit of the Mama's bounty—Sweet Asian pears, sunny sunflowers, and sour, but yummy lemons.

Today, I'm participating in the photo meme, Monday Mellow Yellows, hosted by Gemma Wiseman. To check out other participants, please click here

P.S. 'Tis the month of the Mama and Molly the Cat.




Friday, August 2, 2013

The Mama's Cement Pond


Okay. It is a puddle of water on the patio cement floor. Water collects there when it rains or when the Mama waters her potted plants. Makes me wonder if the natural dip there may actually be over a spring. 'Tis the month of the Mama.

P.S. I'm participating in Weekend Reflections. Click here to see the photos of other participants.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Millionaire Cat

August is the month of the Mama. Meaning? I plan to share some Mama love and Mama-isms with you over the next 31 days. (Not every day, of course.) Here's the first Mama-ism.


"Again," the Mama sighed.

"What?" I asked in alarm, as I stopped nearly halfway up the stairs. I tried to peek over the balustrade (yes, the balustrade), but couldn't see anything. "What's wrong?"

"Oh, nothing," she said from the living room. "It's Molly."

"What's wrong with Molly?"

"She's asleep. Again."

The Husband and I have explained many times that cats sleep a lot. They sleep after they've eaten. They sleep after they've played long and hard. They sleep when it's hot. They sleep when it's cold. They sleep when they darn well feel like it.

The Mama, however, does not accept it. Yet.

As I continued climbing the stairs, I heard Mama say, "Are you a millionaire, Molly? Are you a millionaire cat?"

P.S. I'm participating in this week's Camera Critters Meme. Click here to see other cute critters. 


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

www.su-sieeemac.com

I just love it when technical things come together. After all, I am a non-techie, regardless of what others may say.

Early this morning, or late last night (depending on your point of view), I received an e-mail saying that my domain names had expired and if I wanted to keep them, I need to renew pronto. So, that I did. I decided to forgo the URL for the old blog and purchase a domain name for Don't Be a Hippie.

Purchasing su-sieeemac.com was quite a cheap thrill, I tell you what. 

su-sieeemac.com? Yep. I figure I can always use the URL for something else down the line, should I ever cease writing Don't Be a Hippie. For once, I'm looking ahead.

Anyway, a few minutes ago, I keyed in the right combination of words and numbers to have Don't Be a Hippie appear in the browser when I plug su-sieeemac.com into the appropriate bar. Whooo-hooo! Another cheap thrill.

I think I will count this feat as a Doing 60. The little things count, too, in my book.

So, as not to totally bore you with today's nothingness: How about these sunflowers in the Mama's garden?


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Y-A-W-W-W-N


Seriously, Lady. Have you nothing else to do, but take my photo?

That's what I imagine Molly the by-golly Cat said to me after I snapped this shot.

What can I say? The friends have children and grandchildren to brag about. Me? Why, I'm pretty proud about the Husband, the Mama, and Molly the Cat.

Yep, I'm still here. I know. It has been nearly a month since I've written.  I've been busy being a writing hack. And, I say that in a good way. Hope you're all doing well out there, dear Readers, each and every one of you.

Molly yawns healthily  at night because of the prowling
she does during the day in the Mama's jungle.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Simple, Low-Key Mama Helper


A cane is a very useful tool. It helps you steady yourself as you stand up. It offers you support as you make your way down your path. It's also something you can point with and you can use it to hit a car (or person) that comes too close for comfort.

Yep, a cane is a useful tool.

The Mama, however, will have nothing to do with one. She says (not these exact words, but this idea), "The more you use a cane, the more you won't be able to walk on your own." I suppose, in her mind, a cane is proof that you've given up to old age.

Fortunately, when she works in her gardens, she turns her rake or broom upside down and uses it kind of like a cane. But, she's not really using a cane, you see, because she's just transporting the rake or broom.

All in all, the Mama is very strong for a frail-looking woman in her 90s. (Don't let that fragility fool you. The woman is pretty much all muscle.) By using a cane, the Husband and I would have false confidence that all would be all right as she moves about. But, that's not a battle worth fighting right now. Instead, we look for unobtrusive ways that may help her, and that brings me to the black pole, which you see in the above photo, thanks to our two amigos, Pal D. and Buddy M.

Pal has generously made it his mission to put up things, such as railings or grip bars, that will help Mama get in and out of the house with ease. And, again, the key point, is that those things be essentially unnoticeable as being helpers for the Mama. So, the first project was putting up something by the front step for the Mama to hold onto as she goes up and down it.

When  Pal told  Buddy about the project,  Buddy offered a heavy, metal black pole that was once attached to a weight scale for fat people. That's how the Buddy described it. A very big person holds onto the pole to steady himself (or herself) as he (or she) gets on the scale. The Buddy said that he had that pole for more than 30 years. He figured that one day, the pole would come in handy. So, it did.

Pal brought the pole over to see if it might work. We figured that by attaching a wooden base to it, the pole would be the perfect height for the Mama.  "Keep in mind," I said to the Pal, "It may take a couple of years before the Mama will actually use it." I didn't want him to be disappointed.

A few weeks later, the Pal gave me the final product. "If it doesn't work, or she doesn't like it, that's okay," he said. "We'll try something else."

Several days later, the Husband and I installed the pole. It merely required digging a hole deep enough to firmly hold the pole in place. When I showed it to the Mama, I could see the annoyed look that says "I don't like that you are reminding me that my body is old." It quickly disappeared when I told her the history of the pole and how much Pal and Buddy wanted to give it to her so she could use it to help her whenever she wanted.
Many thanks to Pal and Buddy for the Mama helper.

"They did," she said.

"Yes."

I could see the Mama's body take on a smile. Then I left it at that. I did not nag her to use the pole as she went up and down the step, nor did I ever ask if she  used it. So unlike me.

About three weeks ago, I watched the Mama hold onto the pole as she stepped down and then later on reach for it to help her step up. A very natural act. I was amazed.




Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Giveaway Day Event at Sew, Mama, Sew!


I like to sew.

It was only recently that I realized I did. My passion to create via the sewing machine comes in spurts and usually 10 years apart. It is probably just my lazy nature that kept me from becoming skilled at the craft. Unlike the Mama. She is a talented seamstress. A very precise one, too. Though not anymore. She still has a pedal Singer sewing machine, but it's  too heavy for her to work, and the electric sewing machine confounds her. So she says. These days, she asks me if I'd mend something for her on the sewing machine. That makes me feel darn-tooting good. Fortunately for me, she has mellowed and doesn't care that my seams are still not perfectly straight and tend to be wiggle-waggle looking.

One of these days, I'll tell you, dear readers, the story about the time the Mama got a C (or was it a C minus) for my homemaking project in seventh grade.

Today, I want to mention the Giveaway Day event that Sew, Mama, Sew! is hosting at its blog. Quilters, crafters, sewing mavens, and others are giving away wonderful items they've sewn and crafted as well as extra fabric, patterns, and sewing and craft supplies that they have in their caches to their readers. Yes, that's right. Here's the opportunity to win a beautiful scarf, a necklace, a handbag, a yard of fabric, a vintage pattern, and much more.

Amazing, huh? One of these Giveaway Days, I'll have my act together and give away something that someone may think is cool to own. Yep, I shall.

 The Giveaway Day event is a one week event. It started on May 6 and will run until  May 10th. Sew, Mama, Sew! has divided the giveaways into five categories. Here are the links:
Buena Fortuna!

Friday, April 26, 2013

War!

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December 7, 1941
Honolulu, Hawaii

Clip. Clip. Clip.

The Daddy's cousin was cutting Daddy's hair in their kitchen. They talked about this and that when suddenly they heard  in the near distance Boom! Boom! Boom!

"Hurry up," said the Daddy. "Something is happening at the harbor. Let's go see what's wrong."

December 8, 1941
Baguio, Philippines

At the same moment, thousands of miles to the east, the Japanese Navy Air pilots were bombarding the U.S. bases in the Philippines,  a U.S. territory. The Mama was staying in Baguio, a mountain town, where the John Hay Air Base was located. The town was immediately evacuated.

The Mama said it took her and her family about a month to walk their way down the mountain to their home in Pangasinan, a province in Central Luzon.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Miracle Tree

The tree on the right is the Miracle Tree. If you look closely, you can see
the Mama behind the rose bush.

The First Husband gave the Mama a package of seeds that a Native American tribe had sent him as part of a fundraising campaign. Mama, always the curious horticulturist, sowed them in her backyard. From those seeds grew the Miracle Tree, which today is more than 20 years old.

It would be monstrously huge  if the Mama did not cut it back nearly every year. She can't stand the idea of the branches hovering over the roof or even being near the gutters. No matter how much it gets hacked back in the late fall, its branches are full and ready to provide sufficient shade for the summer heat.

During its early years, the Miracle Tree produced a lot of seed pods. Let me repeat: A lot of them. The seeds are flat and shiny and difficult to clean up once they're on the ground. Every year, Miracle Trees sprout some where new in the yard. Most times, the Mama pulls them out.

The Miracle Tree is not its actual name. The Mama and I like to call it that because it grew from a few seeds. We are not sure what the tree is  called. The Husband and I have seen trees that look like the Miracle Tree in Hawaii. Koa trees, I think they were called. The Miracle Tree could be a Mimosa Tree or related to it. Herbalists make a tincture out of the Mimosa flowers. An acupuncturist had me take the tincture to help mellow me out. (I was a bit angry when we first began our sessions. But, then he was always late. That's for another tale. Maybe.)

The Mama says that Miracle Trees grow in the Philippines. The old folks, she says, harvested the leaves and flowers to feed to the pigs. And, some of the women made purses out of the seeds.

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On some days, the Mama gripes about the constant trimming she must do to the Miracle Tree. She threatens to pull it out now and then, but I doubt she will. She enjoys sitting beneath its shade in the summer. And, now, she has a new purpose for the tree. Last year, she planted a chayote at the foot of its trunk, just to see what might happen. Chayote vines grew upward into the tree and produced a large crop of chayotes to the Mama's delight. Last week, she planted several of last year's crop around the Miracle Tree.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Love Story

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I never heard the parents address each other by their names.  They also didn't refer to each other by name when they talked about the other. The Mama would just say lakai which was old man in Ilocano, while the Daddy would say baket for old lady.

For many years, I wondered if they even loved each other. When I became curious about how they met, they said they had an arranged marriage.

The Daddy said, "Your grandmother said she liked the daughter who lived next door for me. 'Okay,' I told her."

The Mama said, "My mother said to marry your daddy. 'He's a good man. You're old. This may be your last chance to marry.'"

Both the Mama and the Daddy lost their fathers at a young age. So, it was their mothers who met and discussed the terms of the dowry. Several weeks later, the Mama and the Daddy were married.

It was not until I went to the Philippines with the Daddy in the early 1970s that I heard the love story.

In 1947, the Daddy, who became a U.S. citizen after serving the U.S. Army, decided to visit the Philippines. It had been 19 years since he left.  He thought about marrying the girlfriend he left behind if she was still single. She was not.

A few days after the Daddy had been home, he went down to the well that bordered his mother's property and that of the Mama's mother's.  It was late in the afternoon. As he approached the well, he saw a young woman.

"It was like a lightening bolt," said the uncle who told me the story. The Daddy was in love with the Mama instantly.

The Daddy went to his mother and said, "I met the neighbor's daughter.  I want to marry her."

Years later, the Mama told me how she had received marriage proposals before the Daddy asked her. Although her mother liked the men, she did not. "They could not make me," the Mama said. One proposal was from the Mayor's son. The Mama did not like his mother. "She would have treated me like a servant."

The Mama's and the Daddy's wedding was a big-to-do. Both of them came from a large family, including siblings, uncles, aunties, cousins, and more cousins. 

"Everyone danced all night," said the Mama about the reception. "The party went on for three days."

I can just imagine. The Daddy loved a good party. So does the Mama, once she's there.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Kind of Wonderful

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This post was originally entitled "Talking About Sex with the Mama" and was published on June 18, 2010 on my previous blog, This and That. Here and There. Now, Sometimes Then.


Yesterday the mama asked me to explain something she was reading in an AARP flyer. It was a short article about what a woman can do about vaginal dryness so that intercourse isn't so painful.

Uh.

The mama is a voracious reader. She likes to learn. Both things I didn't know until the husband and I became her roommates several years ago. English is not her primary language, and I would say on a scale of 1 to 10, her English reading comprehension is about a 4, more or less. She doesn't let complicated or unfamiliar words get her down. If she's interested in a story, she plows through it. If she's really interested in what words mean precisely, she asks me.

So, she asked me. 

Hoo boy.

The mama hadn't even taught me about sex when I a kid. The only instruction I received that came closest to the topic was the afternoon of getting ready for my senior class prom.  She showed me a gigantic safety pin, then put it in my purse, saying something like "In case you need it." She walked away before I could ask "For what?" I figured that out years later. She didn't have to worry. My prom date came out of the closet years later.  If I'm recalling that eventful afternoon correctly, the mama gave me the safety pin after the daddy advised me, "Don't go f***ing around."

The parents. Do I love them!

But, back to the curious mama of today.

"Kiki," I said, somehow recalling the Ilocano slang word for vagina, pointing to hers, then mine.

"It's about what to do when it's dry. . . ." She looked at me with surprise.

"And you want to have sex." I quickly walked away, but not before noticing that she went back to the article. 

In the kitchen where I thought he hadn't heard, the husband asked, "What was that about?" 

I think maybe something kind of wonderful.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Good Friends


See the flowers outside. The Mama snips off dead blossoms every few days to make sure the flower bushes are bright and cheery for everyone to look at. And, Molly the Cat makes sure she sniffs them every time she is out there to show her appreciation.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Digging

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A few months after the Daddy died, the Mama needed me to uncover the septic tanks in the back yard so that the service guys could come and clear them out. So, one weekend I drove down from San Francisco, where I lived at the time, to do her bidding. The Older and Only Brother lived a few minutes away from her, but she rarely bothered him with such tasks. "He's busy. He has to work on Saturdays. He has a family." 

The day of digging was the same day that the Mama went to Reno with the local Filipino club. Her friends had convinced her to go. It would be a good change for her, they told her. I was very relieved that she would not be home. Back then we were always on tense terms. And, if I was doing physical work, it was best to leave me alone.

There were two septic tanks in the Mama's backyard. I had no idea. I thought there was only one and I knew where it was. I dug out the tank just like that. 

The Mama had a hazy idea of where the second tank was. "Someplace by the bittermelon."

So I dug a hole in the vegetable garden. Nothing.

I tried another spot and dug. Nothing.

Ninong Danny, one of the godfathers of mine, dropped by, as I started a third hole. I hoped he would pick up a shovel and help me. Or, at least pretend to dig. Nope. He laughed at all the holes in the yard, watched me dig for a bit, then left. I head him laughing all the way to the garage.

With dumb luck I found the second septic tank on the fourth digging. Did I say it was a hot summer day? 

I covered all the holes just before the Mama returned home that evening.

She had won $300 at the slot machines. "I think your daddy was guiding me," she said. She gave me $20 and set aside $30 for the Older and Only Brother.

"Why does he get more?" I asked.

"He's a boy." The Mama said.

"I dug holes all afternoon looking for that damn second tank. He didn't do a thing."

But I knew she was not giving me money for doing the work. She was sharing her winnings with her children. 

The Mama is of a generation and a culture in which females are short changed a lot. That day many years ago, as usual, I felt slapped in the face for being a girl rather than a boy. 

Has the Mama's attitude changed over the years? Some. Maybe.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Blossoms


The apricot tree had fewer blossoms than last year.

"You pruned too much," said the Mama.

Sigh. I needed to cut the low branches so I wouldn't get stabbed in the forehead or the Husband wouldn't get poked in the chest as we wandered through the yard while following Molly the Cat. I also wanted to clean up the tangle of branches now rather than later when it would be too difficult to do.

I want to think the Mama understands all that. But, all she can think of right now is that we will have fewer apricots to eat this year.


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"Next year the tree will have a lot of blossoms," I said.

She didn't say a word. 

We can only hope.