I wanted to talk to my mom about something, so I said, “Hey, Ma. I need to tell you something.”
She hit me. Smek! Smek!
“Ma!” I cried. “What did you do that for?”
“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” she said, and hit me again. Smek! Smek!
“But Ma –”
So I finished chewing what I had in my mouth and swallowed. “There,” I said. “You happy now?”
Smek! Smek! “Don’t talk back.”
“Sorry Ma. Can I tell you something now?”
“Certainly, dear. But first do you want more to eat.”
“No, Ma. I’m good.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’ll just get you a little more anyway.”
“Fine. Whatever, Ma.”
Smek! Smek! “What did I say about talking back?”
Finally, with more food on my plate, far more than I was physically capable of every eating, I explained to my mom that I was worried about my daughter, Addy. “She asked me, what would happen to me if Nana and Papa die? Where would I go?” Currently I am unemployed and in order to save money I am planning on saving money by moving back in with my folks since my the lease on my apartment will be up at the end of September. They’re in their 80s.
“Well, she’s worried about you, honey,” Ma said.
“I know, Ma. But she shouldn’t have to worry. She’s only ten.”
“Of course, she shouldn’t but she does. You just have to reassure her.”
“I know, Ma. You’re right. And I do. I told her that I’d figure something out. I’d find a place. I told her that I’m an adult and I can take care of myself and her. And I always will. Things are just hard right now.”
“Well, that’s good, honey. You did the right thing.”
“Thank, Ma,” I said, and shoveled more food into my mouth.
But I couldn’t help thinking about something. Early that week I’d taken my car into the delearship to have a part replaced, at no cost to me because the part was under warranty, so I was feeling pretty good. But on my way to dealership I saw a homeless guy sitting on the side of the road. He didn’t look that old. He was white with scraggly dirty hair and a beard. He face and hands were filthy as where his jeans and shirt. He just sat there with his back against the concrete bridge, staring off. And I thought he’s an adult and he’s not able to take care of himself. Some people don’t find a way. They fail. They end up homeless and broken and begging on the street. It was sad. And scary.
I told this to my mom. She didn’t really know what to say. I don’t blame her. What could she say? She asked me if I wanted something more to eat.
“No, Ma,” I said. “I’ve had enough.”
She got me more anyway.