NPM 24 / 30

(with her approval)

Portrait of My Mother Thus Far

nacio en Barcelona
cuando su familia tenia riqueza
from Bonanova to Roca y Batlle
early 60s, late teens, under Franco rule
worked as a tour operator
she & her girlfriends flirted with American GIs
settled on one young man in particular
from Oklahoma when she was 21
married, left her home country
for rural Northern California,
not the San Francisco scene she dreamed of
to live with in-laws who didn’t engage
except her husband’s grandfather
who would bring over an atlas
ask for stories of Spain

first baby came the following year
her mother came to visit & help
later she worked as a cashier at a diner
never strict with rules
she added change if she was under
pocketed what money she was over
they watched the moon landing
excitement stirred the air

next decade saw her small family move to Idaho
where she welcomed baby #2
where she had to endure snowy winters
they moved from one town to another
from a duplex to a house in that new town
where she would bike to the library
with the baby and her other little girl

in her mid-to-late 30s
she decided to learn to drive
she decided to go to school
got a new best friend, a degree, a job
endured the volcano
of her husband’s temper
in that small, mostly Mormon town

smack dab in the middle of the 80s
they moved to Southern California
much to her and her youngest daughter’s delight
the oldest was in college, at her alma mater
that last winter in Idaho was awful
looking back it seems like it was always snowy & dark
her husband had gone ahead to work & find a place for them to live
how she longed to see a sea again

her youngest in high school
she & her husband with good, solid jobs
he a truck driver, she a bilingual kindergarten teacher
who was universally loved by her students
her co-workers, though she still had little use
for rules, she thrived with art projects
was awarded grants for her class
her best friend from college,
a sweet Hungarian mechanic,
nearby in a beach city

over the years, she traveled back to Spain
what she would always consider her home
even though she’d been in America longer
even became a U.S. citizen with her best friend
she & her husband became happy grandparents
when he retired, they took road trips
she always more interested in the destination
rather than the journey

she took to the internet with gusto
taught herself to do graphics
catfished a bit in chat rooms
she retired from the same school after 26 years
became full-time caregiver to her husband
whose kidneys had gone south
had some help from her daughters
but bore the brunt of duties
becoming quite skilled in her care
she even showed the nurses a few things
when he had to be taken to the hospital

after six years of downs –
ER trips, scary surgeries, rehab facilities
and ups – seeing their grandson graduate
she said goodbye to her husband
of nearly 53 years

widowed in her 70s
she lived alone for the first time in her life
save the dog (they had dogs nearly always)
but after a year, she welcomed home her youngest
a double purpose, for the daughter to start over
and to be there for her mother
so they wouldn’t be alone anymore

still never one for rules
she keeps odd hours, stays up til the wee hours
watching Spanish movies & TV shows
chatting with overseas friends and family online
absorbed in webcams and TikTok videos
sleeps into late morning

she educates her daughter
to cultivate her green thumb
alternates cooking duties
shares random facts like how
she has no rhythm and can’t jump
tells stories about how she visited
New York City after she moved to the States
walked all over Manhattan
visited an old boss
spills little anecdotes
about her college days
flashing truck drivers
on the 80-mile commute to the university
sipping wine from a paper bag

she loves her family fiercely
honors the man she married
with roses from her garden
is a master of remaining upbeat
likes to know what’s going on
prides herself on her vocabulary
in her three languages
reads like a beast
doesn’t like feeling overly sentimental
supports her girls and her grandson
with unwavering solidity

there’s simply no one like her

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sandy Thompson says:

    this one is my most favorite! perfection.

    I miss you both so much!

  2. josefa wann says:

    Yes, that’s me!!!!! Thank you Lizzie for a great recap of my life so far. It made me cry.
    I love my girls so much!!!!!

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