My mother would coal mine if you gave her a pickaxe. Actually, she owns a pickaxe. Probably, the only thing stopping her from coal mining is not having an elevator shaft to bring her a mile below the kitchen floor. My mom is not afraid of hard work and she has the hands to show for it.
In my imaginary mineshaft, I picture her doing a little vacuuming and bringing the miners some ham sandwiches before she picks a good spot in the solid earth and chips away. Black lung, be damned.
I have seen her in action with the pickaxe. Not coal mining, but digging up a gigantic tree root and stump in the backyard with Ciocia Felicia. Did I mention that they both have heart conditions and at the time were in their 60s and 70’s respectively? Snow shoveling is also high on their list of fun and relaxing activities. There is particular tell all excitement in the house afterward if the snow was wet and heavy. Even when my brother hired a snowplow to come and take care of the driveway, my mother grew impatient waiting one morning and shoveled anyway.
I’m always trying to get my mom to relax.
“Do you always have to work so hard?” I ask.
“Yes.” She nods.
We have tried to pamper her, usually against her will. Like the time we brought her in for a French manicure for my brother’s wedding: our great idea.
“How people work like this?” she said, tapping the acrylic white tips of her fingers on the counter. She grabbed things like she didn’t have opposable thumbs. So much for future manicures for Christmas.
“Ma, you need to relax.” I say.
“Relax?” she repeats, as if I just spoke in Mandarin.
“I take nap.”
“A NAP! You need a vacation. A massage. Go out to a restaurant!” I plead.
“I am not that kind of people.” She replies.
And I realize I am that kind of people. Stress? Rewards. Working hard? Rewards. Things go my way? Rewards. Things go badly? Rewards. This seems like a fine way to live if you ask me. After all, life can be long and more so, too short.