My mother has come down to visit me for a couple of months to escape the frigid cold of Tennessee. Her constant complaining to my brothers and sisters has done the trick. It started with her being too cold.
It’s too cold here. I’m so cold, my old soul is frozen, she proclaimed.
Lost in translation, it’s much more dramatic in Vietnamese. My brothers and sisters nipped that complaint by buying her enough clothes to make an Eskimo sweat.
When that failed to produce a first class ticket to Florida, she pulled out another card from her deck of emotional manipulation: Nostalgia. Not just regular nostalgia, but Asian Homeland Nostalgia.
Remember when we were in Vietnam and used to go the beach. Remember how much fun we had.
Then came the obligatory sigh and slumping of the shoulders.
Growing up in Vietnam, your grandfather would take me to the beach. Florida has beaches like Vietnam.
In response, my family gave her prints of the beaches in Vietnam and a picture of my grandfather.
Frustrated, she pulled out her trump card: Asian Mother Guilt.
Asian mothers have the ability to change kernels of guilt into full-blown stalks of blame and penitence. When Asian mothers are in this mode, it’s best to lay supine on the floor and act dead. Hold your breath for as long as you can and stay still because if she detects you survived the initial blow of guilt, she will go after the jugular.
You were a difficult birth. Your father was away and I had to walk to the hospital…bleeding. I was too far along and had to deliver you right away without anesthesia.
I breastfed you until you were six.
I piggybacked you to school while you screamed in my ear.
I cleaned toilets and scrubbed floors so you could go to college.
And then the clincher…
I’m so glad I did all that. If I should die tomorrow then at least you will generic viagra usa know that I loved you and that there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you.
It’s enough that these words cut your heart in half but the wailing and the streams of tears make for a complete soap opera. So now she is here with me in Fort Lauderdale. Her broad smile stretches across her face when the warm Atlantic breeze tousles her charcoal black hair. She seems happy but this happiness is as short lived as a compliment from your boss. This is my mother after-all.
June 26, 2009