Ashes to Ashes: Call your mom

My mom cried three times at The Eastern Iowa Airport in August as she prepared to board her flight back home after driving with me from California for my job at the Union.

“You’re just so far away,” she said in Cantonese, hugging me close as we walked toward security.

My mom is not usually a crier. She’s a (deceptively) tiny Asian woman who gives as good as she gets and takes crap from no one. It actually shocked me to see how sad my mother seemed about my moving away, especially since she didn’t have nearly as strong as a reaction when I first left home for college.

“It’s a place we don’t know. I can’t just drive to you if anything happens,” she explained.

Her worry hasn’t subsided any, even two months into my relocation to Iowa. She calls and texts every day and if I don’t respond within several hours, she has my dad call and leave messages too. The one time I failed to respond within the evening, she woke up early to call me first thing in the morning.

I know I’m not really breaking new ground by writing about realizing how much my mom loves and cares for me, but I was just hit with a newfound appreciation for how often she worries about my well-being.

She recently came to visit me on her week off before starting a new job, only to spend most of her waking hours cooking and freezing several months worth of meals for me because I am so incredibly incompetent in the kitchen. (In my first week at my apartment, I accidentally started a fire with flames that reached my ceiling when I tried to fry some rangoons.) As we prepared for bed every evening during her stay, I would find her standing in front of my fridge, freezer door open, staring triumphantly at her edible creations before turning to me and jokingly saying, “You won’t even have to leave home during the winter. You can hibernate like a bear.”

In addition to the frozen food, she also made breakfast and coffee every morning and had a hot meal waiting for me when I walked through the door at the end of the day. As I prepared to drive her back to the airport earlier this week, I found myself tearing up at the thought of having to say goodbye to her company, her care and her thoughtfulness.

It’s worthy to note that my relationship with my mother is not perfect. In its worst moments, we’ve gone weeks without speaking to each other, but in its best, we’re closer than two peas in a pod. During her stay, it dawned on me that no one else is going to keep me in mind the way my mother does. No one else in the world would willingly fly to Iowa to visit me with the explicit goal of slaving away over a stove to make sure I’m well fed and prepared for my first winter.

Anyway, this was a really long way of saying that I appreciate everything my mom does for me and that I should probably call her more often than I currently do. And, I hope everyone else remembers to show their parents a little love because at the end of the day, they’ve got our best interest at heart.

Love you lots, Mom. Because of you, I think I might actually survive Iowa’s winter.