Letters to my Sister in Japan — Day 16

In which I discuss a pretty good idea you once had

Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico — 1959

Dear Sister,

A few years ago, you asked me if I wanted to work with you on writing a book about mom’s life. Since we’re approaching Mother’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit the idea.

Let’s say we decide to actually write this book. Do we even have enough material? Nevermind that, of course we have enough material. Do we even have the right material?

While mom does a very good job of telling never-ending stories, she always forgets to include the important details. It takes interrupting her with three or four questions before I fully understand the “who,” the “what,” the “where,” the “when,” and the “why.” Asking your mother about her day is like asking her to pass the salt and I end up receiving Tapatio.

Despite her communication quirks, some of my earliest and fondest memories of mom were of her telling me stories of what she was like as a child.

My mom once told me, “Your grandmother would pull my hair, slap my face, and yell at me whenever I did anything wrong.” It was the 1950s — los años de la nalgada — and it was Mexico.

Mom’s loved bragging about how much she was the “Dennis the Menace” trouble-maker. She was always the one to out-smart the kids that cheated her out of a bag of marbles. Or, she was always the brave one, ready to investigate the spooky ghost noises that came from the graveyard down the way. Or, she was the leader, quick to boss her siblings into money-making schemes. My mom was truly an expert at making herself look interesting and cool.

At an early age, I knew mom had mellowed out by the time I came along. You knew my mother when she raised five children, organized ballet folkorico groups, and tried channeling her bullying tendencies into learning how to wrestle. Mom couldn’t really do that stuff when I was around because she was too busy working to provide for me. I was blessed, but I still wish I had the opportunity to know a younger version of her.

Maybe I’ll set aside time in the future to sit with you and talk this book-thing out. Even if I don’t write anything, it’s up to us to use the little time we have left with her to really get as much Tapatio out of her as we can.


Your Little Brother