Inang: Have you eaten yet?
Me: No, not yet. I’m not allowed to eat this late.
Inang: You are dieting again? What will you do?
Me: I will have some green juice when I get home.
Inang: What did you eat for lunch today?
Me: A salad.
Inang: That’s it?!
Me: Yeah. And some hazelnuts.
Inang: What do you do when you get hungry?
Me: I don’t know… Drink water, deal with it.
Inang: I would get so dizzy! Do you get dizzy?!
Me: Sometimes. I’m lucky I get to sit down most of the day.
Inang: (distraught) Could you eat some rice if you get dizzy?!
Me: No, I need to stay away from rice.
Inang: Even bread?!
Inang: Even with a sandwich?! (**not sure how that’s much better**)
Me: Even with a sandwich.
Inang: (in a somber tone, with much conviction) I cannot believe. I WOULD DIE.
Your dad. Your dad is so kind to me. He always asks me if I’m hungry, then he won’t let me cook. He says, “Just sit there. I will take care of you.” He is always thinking about me. He always wants me to be happy. Sometimes, I don’t want to eat the food in the Frigidaire. I don’t like anymore. He will bring me anything he can think, just so I can eat. I don’t like to eat meat anymore. Only chicken.
When he sees me working, if I am sweeping the kitchen floor, he says, “You stop that now. You just sit down. Watch TV.” Then he will sweep. *chuckles* Even he worked the night before, he will not let me work. He will always carry the laundry upstairs. I cannot carry the laundry upstairs anymore. I’m too weak.
Your dad really takes care me. For a long time, he takes care of me. He is really so kind. You watch your dad. You will learn to be that kind, too.
Inang, after being asked “Who is your favorite child?”
Inang: You just exercised?
Me: Yeah, just a little. Lifted some weights.
Inang: (feeling my back) Do you have pawis (sweat)?
Me: A little bit.
Inang: You work then you exercise? Too much, too much.
Me: I’m tired of being poor and fat.
Inang: Ay, you have plenty of money. And you are skinny now!
Me: No, I’m not!
(grabbing belly, slapping thighs)
Look at this! What a disaster!
Inang: Ah, no, ahh… you are just strong.
(squeezes my calves)
See? All muscle, na! Like my legs when I am eighteen years old.
(lightly taps the top of one of my breasts)
Not this, though.
So incredibly blessed to be celebrating this special lady’s Sweet 16 (+70). I love her so much.
Grandma’s “I’m sad you are single” face during one of my many futile attempts to distract her from the fact. At what point is it acceptable to make up a boyfriend so she stops worrying?
I used to roll my eyes when she would talk about how I was getting older and needed to get married, how I was running out of time and needed to hurry. I recently came to realize that it is the fear that she is getting older and running out of time that compels her to constantly bring it up. I don’t complain about the nagging anymore, because it’s something I’ve come to fear as well.
We tried to call Joanna to cheer her up. That bitty didn’t pick up a single phone call.
The future Dr. Joanna Fortin starts her journey to a higher pay grade than me* this month as she and my parents travel to Loma Linda, CA, where she will be obtaining her Doctorate of Physical Therapy. I wanted to wish her goodbye in a special way, so I recruited some of our family members and her closest friends to work on a series of videos for her. I created a separate video for each person/ couple/ family and then spliced a bunch of clips to create a group video with country music appropriately playing in the background.
Out of everyone’s videos, Inang’s makes me cry the most. She says things like “Don’t forget me, Joanna. You always think about me. I will always think about you, too.” There were lots of parts I had to cut out because you could hear me crying, too.
After we shot this video, I put the camera down and gave her a great big hug, making sure to hold on very tight for a long time. Eventually, she started to giggle, as if to say, “Okay, okay – that’s enough. I’ve got it together again.” Taking her by the arm, I led her back into the house, repeating over and over again, “We could never, ever forget you or stop thinking about you. Never.”
In response, all she did was smile.
*for the record, this is something I joke about, not actually take to heart and let bother me. I always remind Joanna that without good English grammar, a therapist could end up as the rapist. Don’t you just love inappropriately placed punctuation?