My mother is the kind of person who equates walking in parking lots and driving on highways at night with Russian roulette. Every once in a while she gets a superstitious sense that I am doing one or both. I picture her, one hand pressed against her face in worry as she walks by the Pope’s picture in the kitchen. The dried palm leaves jet out from behind the lip of the frame almost touching the phone. She looks at the piece of paper on the fridge where I wrote my cell phone number, squints and punches the buttons on the phone like she’s annoyed at negotiating and calls me.
“Where you are?”
“I’m just leaving the parking lot at Target.”
“Why you shopping late! Do you hear about the woman?”
“No Ma. What woman?”
“Why you no watch the news?”
“Ma, have you been watching 48Hours again? I’m fine.”
She gets all wound up watching murder mystery shows. So while I try to keep her anxiety at bay, I take care to look behind my seat. Occasionally I pause and take into account my mother’s I-told-you-so-track-record. I have put my money down on the wrong horse before. It creeps into my mind that she’s been right about other things in my life more than I can count. Which leads me to sometimes wonder how much to pay attention to my mother’s advice?
Things Mom was right about:
1.) My savings account
2.) Losing weight after 30
3.) clothes with dry clean only tags should be avoided
4.) It’s not the worst thing that could happen
5.) a meal without bread is not a meal
Things Mom was wrong about:
1.) I didn’t die in the Peace Corps.
2.) (Insert sound of wind and tumbleweed here.)
She’s always saying I should be conscious of the czarna godzina (the black hour). And I am which is why money flies easier out of my hands than hers and why traveling to a far off place doesn’t scare me like it does her. Maybe sometimes it’s good to play it safer. All of her hard work and values afford me the comforts and choices that my parents never had. Old world values and new world opportunities wrap around each other and propel the next generation forward, stronger and better off, but with conflict in tow.