I have a pretty good memory: an overall good memory and an especially good memory for things people tell me about themselves. My super good memory sometimes scares my parents, who think I might remember the (very few) times that they were less than perfect. I do, sometimes, but memories are more like a place that you visit than a place you live in: I’m not thinking about all the things I remember all the time. Memories are like North Dakota, I know it’s there and if I want to I can go, but I don’t live there. Some memories are like Rock Creek Park: they’re close and I want to visit all the time. Others are like a layover in Boston: they come as a surprise but can be nice. Yet others are like a layover in Miami: they sneak up on you and they suck.
I remember lots of great things about my parents. I have memories with them that are like Paris and the beach: I want to go all the time. I maybe don’t tell them enough, especially not my mom, but I have them and I love them.
Because I like to make lists, here are my top five, in no order:
My mom always comes through. When I was little I went to an elementary school where the teachers assumed that everyone’s parents stayed at home and plenty of time to buy supplies and drive people to things and write checks. My mom was a lawyer. She most certainly did not have plenty of time to buy supplies and drive people to things and write checks. And she still did. I remember when I was in second grade the teachers asked us to bring two dozen popsicle sticks. I called my mom at work and asked her for the sticks and told her that I needed them for the next day. My mom came home around maybe 6 or 7, dressed in a suit and holding a tiny plastic bag with two dozen sticks. She said she didn’t know what they were and couldn’t find them, and was about to pay an ice-cream truck for two dozen popsicles when finally someone asked her what she needed and directed her to a craft store. I laughed when my mom said this. The next day I took the sticks to class and made my mom a jewelry box, just like every other kid in the school. She deserved much better than the little box but she still said she loved it and kept it for years.
My mom has always, always been proud of me and my sister and of whatever we do. She went to every single play we ever were in, which, considering my sister still performs as an actress, is a lot. She always clapped the hardest and always thought we did the best job out of everyone. My sister and I call our mom the president of our fan club. We can say she’s the president because she is always trying to recruit new members: reminding my aunts and uncles to call us on our birthdays, sharing our good news with everyone she knows, inviting people to my sister’s plays.
My mom is very generous. Whenever my mom goes anywhere for longer than a day she always brings my sister and me presents. I am not sure how she came up with this idea, but when we were little she used to lay out all our presents on top of our beds. It would always be nearly identical stuff in different colors: blue things for me, some other color for my sister. Nothing was wrapped. Everything was just laid out on our beds: pajamas, chocolate, a dress. Even now that I am very much a grown-up, when I go home there’s stuff laid out on my bed. It’s wonderful.
My mom is very practical. Once my sister and I were enrolled in a day camp that included one overnight trip to a nearly deserted beach. The organizers gave all the campers a list of supplies that included all the normal camping stuff, none of which we had in our house. My mom took us to a department store to buy track pants and visors that we would never wear again. We also had to get a flashlight but for some reason couldn’t find one in the store. My mom’s super practical solution was to have us pack the nightlights in our rooms adding “I’m sure there’s a palm tree with a plug somewhere.”
My mom is always supportive. Always. When I announced that I wanted to leave Venezuela to come to the US, my mom did everything she could to be there for me. My mom went to the American Airlines office in Caracas and bought my ticket. She bought me beautiful sweaters for when I landed in Michigan and it was cold. She remembered the name of the person that was going to meet me in Michigan and to this day she is thankful for him. She always seemed excited and proud of me for what I had chosen to do. I left fourteen years ago. I know it’s hard for her to be away from her daughter, and I know I don’t say thank you enough for all the things she has done so I can be happy.
I’m sorry, mom. Thank you.