Mom Memories 1944-2014

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With the holidays here, I meant for this post to be roundup of my Thanksgiving meal. Like a good food blogger (which I haven’t been these last few months), I planned for pulled turkey tacos, corn salsa and bevy of desserts. I called it the anti-Thanksgiving, forgoing traditional items with a new spin. Instead, I mourned over my mom who passed away the day before due to failing health and colon cancer complications. The day was a blur, I didn’t sleep all night after hearing the news and wasn’t hungry. Instead, I resorted to eating a slice of pumpkin pie from Albertsons bought that evening. The most difficult part was that I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to her one last time or see her put to rest (her last wishes was to be buried within 24 hours). To put it lightly, that wrecks me; we called and messaged each other all the time. I can’t stand the thought of ever deleting her number from my phone.

Coincidentally with her passing, my post on her momisms and recipe for mini pecan tarts peaked. On rereading it, it made me laugh and ease the pain.

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Grieving is hard I don’t know if I’ll ever stop. In an effort to keep her memory alive (including here on the internet), here are just a few of my favorite memories.

  • She loved carne asada burritos. Don’t give her tacos. Tacos just aren’t the same thing to her and she always preferred a big fat burrito. Pair it with a side of hot spicy carrots (she could empty out a bin if given the chance) and she was set.
  • She didn’t know what wasabi was only that it was edible. Upon taking her to a Japanese restaurant for a bento box, I witnessed my mom put a whole wad of wasabi into her mouth and spit it out like a cannon ball across the table.
  • One of the first things she taught me to cook was rice. To this day, I don’t use measure the water for the rice, I use my fingers to figure out how much water to use.
  • She knew all my friends whether she met you or not and would revel in our “cool modern lives.” When we finished talking about my life (she never really understood what I did), I would talk about my friends and what’s happening with them. And she would remember the names in later conversations and ask about them. She had a great capacity for remembering everyone.
  • My mom loved cheese. The earliest memories included her eating everything from stinky cheese like limburger to the weird Kraft cheese found in a tin can. She would buy cheese in bulk at Costco, freeze it and transport it home. There was no cheese she wouldn’t eat.
  • She respected my choice for not doing things the conventional way and appreciated my independent spirit that manifested itself as a hellish teen to a nonconformist adult. Regardless of our arguments, we always made up.
  • My mom loved figure skating and bonding sessions involved lots of time in front of the telly watching Rudy Galindo, Kristy Yamaguchi, Katarina Witt, Oksana Baiul and Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov perform half lutzs, axels and toe loop jumps on ice.
  • Music was a big part growing up. To this day, my iPod is littered with things I think she would like: Ray Conniff, Paul Anka, Neil Diamond, etc. But I got her into Elvis Costello — a win on my part — but she never got into The Smiths. She also loved to randomly hum and sing out of the blue whether it’s from the musicals she watched or just something made up.
  • She was a horrible hairdresser. When I was 6-years-old, she took it upon herself to cut my hair to mimic the Dorothy Hamill rage going on at the time. Many people I was wearing a wig until I went to a proper hairdresser. She followed it up with a perm a few years after with equally devastating results.
  • After the death of my brother, Allan, at the terribly young age of three, she always carried his memories alive hoping I would never forget. We never got over his death and every major holiday like Christmas, she would always decorate his grave. Since leaving San Diego, she left that duty to me but I could never replicate her same meticulous flair.
  • For one Halloween, she borrowed my brother Warren’s Star Trek (Next Generation red shirt) uniform to wear to work. It was completed with my Doc Martens and pips putting her in the officer rank.
  • After my dad left her and the family, my mom seemed to bloom. In their marriage, she always took the backseat to my dad’s strong personality but as evidenced by our wedding, my mom worked the floor trying to talk to as many people as possible. Every time I checked up on her, she was talking to another new person.
  • Paul once witnessed my mom take down an entire box of Crunch ‘n Munch in one sitting. She told him that she was “pigging out” and didn’t share one bite with him. It was a phrase I would often use in my chunkier teen years that she started using herself.
  • From high school on, my mom and I wore the same size shoes and clothes. My teen years was a weird mix of middle aged woman clothing to Morrissey shirts. Towards the end, it killed me that she shrank to a size 2 because of her illness.
  • My mom was a one-woman cheering crowd when my brother Warren was named salutatorian for his graduating high school class. Despite my best efforts to calm her down (I was after all, the cool college kid), she cheered and yelled in a crowded gym room when his name was called. Looking back, I would have joined her.
  • My mom always had cold hands. Blame it on poor circulation or anemia but when the days were hot, I loved putting her hand on my forehead to cool down.
  • She loved Paul. My mom always marveled that Paul and I were always laughing. From the moment in our wedding when got the giggles to every day conversation, she saw we always laughed. She often told me it brought her a lot of peace knowing that someone loved me as much as Paul and that I wouldn’t ever be alone.
I miss her so much.

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