My mami’s a saint. Not the kind that needs to be canonized nor is she of porcelain with robes and crowns. My mami is a walking saint.
It’s my last day in Florida. I am actually starting to like this state again. It’s the clouds. They are big puffs in shapes of pillows and goats and angels. It is not just the clouds, really, there is more. It is the palm trees, the green on various leaves, it is the humidity hugging me so tight, it is the Cubans, the Puerto Ricans, the salsa on the radio, it is my family.
I am at the hospital taking care of my papi. He is across from me asleep. A tube here, a tube there, tubes everywhere. Morphine, oxygen, liquids. He goes through his moments of being in pain. A press of a button releases morphine. A press of another button calls the nurse. This is the nicest hospital I have been in but I feel like I will turn into a fast food junky if I stay any longer. I had McDonald’s last night because I was sick of the Subway sandwiches and I have gotten hooked on the Starbuck’s Iced Chai Latte with Soy. Please forgive me I have been away from California too long. Ok, it’s only been a week but please do forgive me.
I leave tomorrow and my papi will remain in the hospital until he is fully recovered. I leave and it makes me sad that I can’t afford to stay longer. My mami who has not been with my papi for the past 23 years will take care of him. Mami never liked church and doesn’t really believe in organized religion although she says, soy católica a mi manera. Mami has always told me that her religion is helping others. That is what she does. She goes from house to house helping those who are sick. A month at her friend’s because she had a foot operation. Over a year while my cousin was sick with lung cancer. She stayed with her sister after my cousin passed away. The other sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, Mami went over there. My little cousin had to have a tumor removed by her heart. Where was my mami? In my cousin’s kitchen making sure the beans were cooked just right. She goes back and forth and is hardly in her section 8 studio apartment in Little Havana. My mami is a saint.
When I was little it annoyed me that she took care of so many other people. I love my mami, really I do but there were ways she didn’t know how to be my mami. Not the one I needed. I think I’ve moved on from that. I think. Hija eres madre será. You are a daughter and will be a mother. That is what she always told me when I misbehaved. I remember that because perhaps in some way I may fail my child as well. May I catch myself before it happens or while it is happening. May she or he not write a blog about how I wasn’t the best mother. Ameen.
I never knew my parents’ relationship to be happy so it has surprised me when she has woken me up in the morning to call the hospital to see how my papi is doing. I forget, once they were married, once they loved each other, once they had my brother and me.
I pray that my mami never gets sick because who would take care of her the way she takes care of other people. I would, of course, she is my mami, but we don’t have the same calling. I stayed at my papi’s place the night of his surgery. I was alone in the apartment while my oldest brother’s house was filled with people. I woke up missing my mami so much. I couldn’t wait to get to her. I hugged her and didn’t care if her cigarrette smoke was getting in my hair. I wanted my mami the way a kid wants their mami. In that moment she was the best mami anyone could ever have. I understand her now. I appreciate all the little things she did for other people and all the teachings she gave me.
My eyes are tired. It is a long drive from Spring Hill to Tampa to go to the hospital. I am not used to these florescent lights. I kind of want to stay here. Maybe it’s the clouds or the fast food is making me delusional. Maybe it’s just that I am all grown up and things are finally good with my family, minus the sicknesses of course, but emotionally we are stronger now. How can we not be when we have the blessings and the love of a walking saint?