Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Amazing Viola De La Parra

The Amazing Viola De La Parra

 

Mom

Today my biggest supporter, my best friend, my mentor and the best woman I have ever known passed away peacefully at the age of 90.

I can never come close to thanking her enough for being the amazing mother she was to me. There will never be a day that I do not think of her, miss her and attempt to be the kind and loving person she was.

In honor of her, I am re-posting a Mother’s Day piece about my awesome Mom with a few additional facts:

Her family was from Chile and she was the only one born in the United States. New Jersey to be exact.

Her maiden name was Viola De La Parra.

She spoke Spanish first, French second and English was her third language.

She hated mayonaise.

She lost her father to pneumonia when she was 9 years old.

During the Depression, her mother opened up her home as a boarding house to make ends meet for her four children. Most of the boarders were traveling vaudevillians who would spend hours teaching my mom how to tap dance.

She met my father on a blind date.

She discovered she was a very gifted watercolorist when she was about 60 years old.

She believed in reincarnation. So, good thing the world will get to have her back again because we need more humans like her among us.

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“An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest”
– Spanish proverb

With Mother’s Day here, I feel compelled to write about the most influential person in my life – my mother. Her name is Viola and she just turned 89. She is in the final stages of dementia but continues to smile through it all like a champ.

If you think about it, dementia has its benefits. You can see the same movie or read the same book over and over and enjoy it just as much the first time as the tenth. And my stupid jokes and stories are always hilarious and fascinating no matter how many times I repeat them. So, in short, an 89-year-old with dementia is my perfect audience.

Here are some Viola-isms and Viola-facts:

“Always leave a bathroom cleaner than you found it or you’ll never be invited back.” To my knowledge, there are much bigger reasons to not invite me back to your home than this.

She has a terrible singing voice. She sounds just like Alfalfa from Little Rascals. It’s really quite disturbing.

Uncannily, she knew the moment I lost my virginity because I abruptly stopped talking about and asking questions about sex.

“Even the strongest man on earth cannot properly squeeze the water out of a sponge with one hand.” I have no idea how to prove or disprove this theory. But, she stated it with such conviction, I have to believe she has somehow witnessed this.

She taught me that to judge people was a waste of time. You wouldn’t judge a kindergartener for not acting like an MBA student so think about what “spiritual grade” a person might be in. (I am clearly in some sort of Special Education department.)

My mom always reminded me of Edith Bunker. Seemingly a bit ditzy on the outside but solid and smarter than everyone else in the room on the inside.

She graduated with a degree in Psychology with a minor in Latin Studies the same year I graduated from high school. She could psychoanalyze you in Spanish, thereby making you feel decidedly paranoid.

She regaled me and my friends at Mom’s Weekend in college about how terrific sex is after 50. The truth of this remains to be seen.

“I’ve taught my kids to be able to eat dinner with a king.” This skill has never been tested.

So, on Mother’s Day, I thank you, Vi, for being my biggest fan, my most honest critic, and my guide through the numerous missteps of my life with unwavering love and loyalty. I will always remember these things, even if you can’t anymore.

Holly Hunter and Me (Or Is It Holly Hunter and I?)

Holly Hunter and Me (Or Is It Holly Hunter and I?)

First of all, I’m back. No, I wasn’t arrested nor did I slip into a coma brought on by some horrendous, newly discovered STD, but I can understand why you may have considered both as a possibility.

No, I had to take a little bit of time because I had a flare-up of this pesky little recurring disease I contracted called “A Job”. I don’t know why Bill and Melinda Gates are working so hard on a cure for Malaria when this disease is way more debilitating and epidemic in nature. But, I live with it, like a brave saint.

I’d like to see Sarah McLachlan do a PSA about this. I can look super sad and needy for the camera. I tend to look super sad and needy most of the time these days.

For only $800/day, you can help take one mid-level executive out of the job market.

For only $800/day, you can help take one mid-level executive out of the job market.

Anyhoo, even amidst the chaos, I did, of course, observe some stuff. I do that.

One  observation is that when I am under more stress than the norm, I turn into Holly Hunter.

Not the Holly Hunter of The Piano. That would just be weird and I would like to keep all my digits.

The Holly Hunter from Broadcast News. Which, by the way, is one of my all time favorite movies and one that provides me with constant connections to my own life. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it. My two favorite Brooks are involved (James L. and Albert) and my least favorite Brooke is not (Shields).

Specifically I turn into the Holly Hunter that deals with her stress by locking herself in her office, taking her phone off the hook, then proceeding to sob uncontrollably for several minutes before straightening up and getting back to it.

Since I don’t really have an appropriate office to do this in I notice that driving in a car alone does the trick. People stare at you at traffic lights and you often miss your exit, but we work with what we have. Driving at night is the best option if you can hold it in until the sun goes down. Kind of like an emotionally unbalanced vampire.

Over the last several weeks of this up tick in work/life stress, I’ve had many Broadcast News moments.

For instance, this scene where Albert Brooks has some bodily function issues. Click the picture, you won’t be sorry.

Any woman over the age of 48 most likely knows how this may apply to me without explanation.

Additional quotes from the movie, both from Albert Brooks, that seem to be resonating for me right now:

“Wouldn’t this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If needy were a turn on?”

“At some point things got so bad it just became funny.”

That last one will be on my headstone.

So, maybe I take it all back. Maybe I’m not Holly Hunter so much as Albert Brooks. Regrettably, that just makes an awful lot of sense.

Maybe Holly would be open to shooting that PSA.