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.
“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.