Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Mother's Day 2022

Michael Sedano 

Everyone in the world has a mother. Many of us know the joy of having the World's Best Mother. I know, some people didn't get to be mothered by the idealized vision of that poem by José Montoya about la Jefita, "man, she never sleeps!" But I wish they had. 


I wish all mamas enjoyed an idealized version of getting married to Mr. Charming, living forever-after satisfied and whole, all the days of their lives. 

There's no idealized version of what happened to the newlywed woman in the photograph. She didn't have a fabulous gown with twelve attendants in flowing satin. She ran off to Arizona, where 15 ½ isn't too young to marry the lovestruck orange picker.

The domineering step-father would no longer tell Nellie what to do. She left home and got word to Redlands. He wrote it down, drew a map. A camp on a lonely gravel road out past the railroad tracks

"I'll see a barn and maybe Nellie

Camp under pepper tree".

They drove the Model A from Cucamonga to Yuma and spent their honeymoon night in a cane break. That was 1941.

August 1945, my father is in Germany, sweating out orders for the Japan occupation. A neighbor drives us to Community Hospital across from the Courthouse. I don’t know how we got home. Probably my second bus ride. 

During the pedo over Civil Rights and the crap we saw in Life Magazine, my mother happily related my first bus trip--in utero. 

A bus driver in Ft Knox Kentucky tells my mother to get to the back of the bus with the Colored. My mom tells the bus driver "I'm not Colored, I'm Mexican." 

Y que. We sit in front. Imagine my Mom there, all prim and proper, holding her own place in the world. 

Mother’s Day is for remembering. My Mom lay in the nursing home room, its dismal light interrupted by gathering spirits. Familia has appeared. Soundlessly I am instructed to take her home with me. 

The spirits leave an evanescent memory, reminding us. Four-year old me stands on the couch in my hand-me-down clothes hugging my mother, telling her how one day she's gonna come live with me and I will take care of her forever and ever. She smiles at a little boy’s promise and hugs me. That scene is alive in her eyes as my mother wakes, nods, agrees at long last to come live in my home to end her days.

In the silence, a question lingers.

Over recent months I'd made weekly visits to Redlands to cook, to observe the level of care she receives, to leave money. I take her to all her doctor appointments. She knows she can no longer drive and willingly accepts my insistence that I drive. I closely follow her worsening health. 

Every visit, the doctor recommends she go live with this son of hers. Every doctor gets turned down. I get turned down. Poorly cared for at home, she is hospitalized repeatedly, then into Rehab. Mom decides she doesn't need to be miserable any longer.

“What took you so long to decide?”

She looks across the featureless bed at me. I lean forward to hear over hallway noises in this awful nursing home hell. She looks away then back at me. A lifetime in four words:

“It wouldn’t be strong.”

Caption: My mother jumps with joy, inside, learning Barbara will be a mother next Fall. Cherish the thought. 1974.


Anonymous said...

I love this Em...

Kristin said...

Can feel it all