This week is my parents' 45th wedding anniversary. They dated for a while (long distance) before they got married so they have known each other a looooong time.
My dad said the minute he saw my mom he knew she was "the one". She was visiting my paternal grandfather who lived up up the street from her mom. My dad was home from Curacao for the holidays and my mom was home from NYC. The families knew each other. St. Martin is small and their village is very tiny but my parents did not grow up together. He moved to the other island when he was five.
My dad moved to America and they got married six months later. I loved looking through their wedding album. My mom is 5'10 (hello I'm a midget, what the heck happened) and her dress was gorgeous. Simple boat neck, long sleeves, fitted waist, she had it made in the city. The beading on the hem was stunning. I know she still has the dress but she was long and slim with curves (think Angelina Jolie with a few more pounds). I couldn't wear that dress. I doubt my thigh would fit through the waist.
This week is also my mom's birthday. I know many women who say their mom is their best friend. I love my mom but she's still a mystery to me. A big reason is cultural. I'm American and she is not. Of course she an American citizen but her core being is Caribbean. She lived in America for over 40 years before moving back to the island and yet my parents always referred to St. Martin as home.
Where my dad is very out going, my mom is reserved. I know a lot about my dad's childhood and can see him as a young man. My mom's life... not as much. My mom's dad died when she was 10. She's the oldest so I get the sense she took on a lot of responsibilities. There was no time for "foolishness". My dad was the baby of 6 and very close to his parents. My parental grandparents were the complete opposite of my maternal grandmother, warm, gregarious, a ton of friends. I wonder if my mom's upbringing is the reason why she's incapable of relaxing.
I couldn't do what my mom did. Leaving a small village, moving to New York City in the early 60s, raising a family, working full time, the hell of a commute once we moved to the 'burbs, a spot-less house, home cooked meals (no fast food allowed), active in her church, etc. I'm single, live in a shoe box and barely find the time to get everything done. She doesn't see what she did as anything special. It's what all the women on the island do unless they are, you know, shiftless or something.
My mom is private. Good thing she doesn't have Internet or she might let me have it for "putting her business out on the street." She's also blunt. This is one Caribbean trait I cannot get used to. When I cut the chemicals out of my hair, leaving it very, very short, she said, "What did you do? You look ugly." To this day she is still on my case about my hair. I know she thinks having a natural is the reason why I'm single. My Caribbean relatives will say to your face, "Did you put on weight, you're fatter than the last time I saw you, no?" Sigh. On the other hand they would jump in front of a bullet for their family or their friends.
My mom is also very giving. Sometimes sacrificing her own needs. When our elderly next door neighbor got sick my mom would go over everyday to give her her shots even though her schedule was insane. She has had some friends for over 50 years. It's interesting to me that she grew up so sheltered yet encourage her kids to be worldly. She was a talented musician (piano) and I know my love of music comes from her and my dad.
When I moved to L.A. my parents had no idea what it was I did for a living, (I neglected my duty as a first generation American to be a doctor or a lawyer) but they supported my crazy career (what is a development girl?) emotionally and financially. I was getting ready for the move to Rome and found a letter my mom wrote to me a few years ago. I was going through a really tough time with a psycho passive-aggressive boss and she told me, "not to give up, that this person could not break me. When all is said and done what is money and power without family? Nothing. You have your family, you will be okay." The letter made me cry.
A classic from one of my parents' favorite singers. This song reminds me of their relationship, (except when they are bickering). Ha