Sundays have always been my “lazy days,” after late Saturday nights. By the time I get up, Dad and Mom are out, and my younger brother, Drew, is upstairs. As I’m mixing eggs and milk for breakfast, Mom calls to ask if her mustard chicken sounds good for dinner. I reply, “Great.” For once, I don’t feel like fighting or being cross.
“I’m on my way to the supermarket. Dad is meeting me there at noon, and we’ll come home together. Just stay by the phone in case I need to call. Love you, babe.”
It’s always quick good-byes with Mom, since I’m generally interested in something else.
Mom and I have always had a difficult relationship. Since early adolescence, I have wondered why people consider certain things more “real” than others. What is real? If “blood” is real, then who am I, one-hundred-percent Colombian, in my Jewish-American family? When Mom and I are out together, I know people are thinking, “How are they mother and daughter?” I, too, feel confusion at times about a mother and daughter bond.
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Answering the Call
My eggs are done, and the bacon is heating up. The phone rings. Expecting Mom, I hesitate before picking up, just to aggravate her. “Hello,” I answer after three rings.
“Does anyone at the residence know a Margaret Einhorn?”
“Yes, I do. I’m her daughter.” I’m about to hang up, thinking this man is a telemarketer, when he answers back.
“Umm, ma’am, your mom is having a seizure in our store.”
“What!?” I can feel my throat dry up and tears form.
“Yes, ma’ am. We called an ambulance but we”
I hang up the phone. “Drew,” I yell as best I can, “I have to go, Mom needs me.”
I know that my mom used to have seizures, but she hasn’t had one in my lifetime. How could this be happening? I run out of the house and bang on the door of our neighbors, Maggie and Brian.
Brian drives me to the supermarket, running any red lights we hit. I jump out of the car before it stops. Pushing through the store’s automatic doors, I picture blood, pale faces, death-images triggered by the word “seizure.” The butcher, with bloodstains on his apron, approaches me and says that everything is fine. He asks to take an incident report—store policy—but I ignore him and make my way over to my mom. My heart stops when I see her: on the floor, sitting crossed-legged, with an oxygen mask hanging around her neck. Children aren’t supposed to see their parents looking weak like this.
Mom licks her lips as her head lolls from side to side. I break down, crying for her. The paramedic points at me and asks Mom if she knows who I am. We all wait for her answer.
“What?” She responds, as if drunk. “Oooh, someone. I don’t know.” I feel my soul melt down my body and into the floor. How can a mother not know her own daughter? After all, I am her daughter. At that moment, I feel the truth pass through me. This is real. This is my mom. The paramedic sits Mom up.
“You’ve had a seizure, ma’am.”
“No. I,” Mom, glossy-eyed, reaches out for me, as a baby reaches for its mother. I join her on the floor and she cries in my arms. We then ride together in the ambulance to the hospital. When my dad gets there, he sends me home.
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Resolving Some Questions
My walk home seems longer than ever before. I think of all the times my mom and I have fought. I hate myself for questioning her love and identity in my life. If it weren’t for my mom’s seizure, I might not have understood what Mom and I truly mean to each other. I might have ignored the fact that our bond is real, extending beyond a biological relationship between mother and child. I love her because I am her life, and she is mine.
This article was reprinted with permission from Qu Tal?, the newsletter of LAPA (the Latin America Parents Association – New York).