The Best Son Ever (Not Me)

vintage-mother-lgEveryone looks at Mother’s Day differently. For those of us who are lucky enough to have our mothers in our lives, it is a day for us to call them or send a card or flowers. For some of us, it involves brunch, whether it be having it or serving it. However, for many people this is a day of sadness because they don’t have the opportunity to see their mom. I think of my husband who lost his mother several years ago and who now looks at Mother’s Day very differently than he used to. I also think of my own mother who lost her mother so many years ago and still feels sad on this day. And for some people, their mother is still with them but only in spirit because she is so very far away.

I once worked with a dishwasher we called Baby. He was from Mexico and had lived in this country for about three years. When he first started working with me his English was barely passable and he was probably about 19 or 20 years old. He told me of how he came to this country, crossing the border at night with a group of friends and cousins. It was scary, dangerous and they had very little food for their trip. He slowly made his way up to New York City in order to find a job and hopefully build a better life for himself. I often wondered what his life must have been like in Mexico if working 10 hours a days, six days a week as a dishwasher was better. Over the years, I got to know Baby and I watched him grow from a shy uncertain teenager to a happy confident young man. I knew that he took English lessons several times a week and his English was way better than my Spanish ever has been or ever will be. I also learned that he had dreams of being a singer and he once asked me to find him some Spanish language novels that he could use for inspiration when he wrote lyrics for the songs that he crafted on his guitar.

One day, I asked Baby if he ever missed Mexico, knowing that he was unable to come and go freely.

“Yes,” he told me. “In three more years I will go back.”

“Oh, so you don’t want to stay here forever?” I asked.

“No, I am just here to make money and send it back to my mother so my brother and sister can go to school. My father used to do that for us, but he died, so as soon as I was old enough, that’s when I came here.”

All of a sudden, it made sense. He didn’t do this so he could have a better life, he did it so his family at home could have a better life. He loved his mother so much that he was willing to sacrifice six years of his life opening the restaurant at 3:00 and closing the restaurant at 11:00 and washing every single dish that went through it. Eventually, he told me he had started working another job at a pizza place next door to us. For breakfast and lunch, he worked there as the delivery guy and then came to work dinner at our restaurant; 14-hour days, seven days a week. Again, most of the money was going home to his mother. Yes, he was here illegally, but what American is willing to do the job that Baby happily took? Not many.

I think of the $4.99 Mother’s Day card I bought at CVS and feel like the world’s shittiest son. I mailed it on Thursday so I’m sure my mom didn’t even get it on time. Have I ever done anything as noble as what Baby did each and every day? I get to see my mom once or twice a year and I feel like it’s not nearly enough. Yet Baby didn’t have plans to see his mother for six whole years and every ounce of energy he used was to show his love for her.

Today is Mother’s Day and if you still have your mother in your life, I hope you will take the time to appreciate her. My husband won’t get to talk to his and Baby probably won’t either because I’m sure he is working brunch and dinner all day and will be exhausted. But Mother’s Day in Mexico is Tuesday, May 10th. I hope he will get a chance to call her on that day and tell her how much he loves her, although I’m sure she already knows that.

Do me a favor: call your mom today if you can so you. Too often, our opportunities pass us by, just like my husband’s chance to speak to his mother and my chance to buy Spanish books for Baby.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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Me and Mom, the week she came for my book launch in April.

8 thoughts on “The Best Son Ever (Not Me)

  1. Dale

    Does “Baby” pay taxes?

    Is my heart supposed to bleed for an illegal who is choosing to break the law by sneaking across the border?
    Maybe your restaurant should be reported to immigration for a raid.

    I live in an area where we now have to have bars on our windows and can’t go out safely at night thanks to illegals. Anyone who looks at them with sentimentality is a fucking fool.

    Reply
  2. noxy

    I’m crying. Again. For about the 8th time today.

    My mom died just over 2 years ago and my daughter is 15 hours away in Nashville- I won’t see her again until the end of next month.. I miss them both terribly and so Mother’s Day is probably the hardest day for me to get through out of the year. :/

    Reply
  3. Deb

    Just a beautiful piece, Darron Cardosa. The community I serve has so many individuals who have to work under the table since they came here as babies, toddlers, from Mexico and cannot get legal employment. Those individuals are exploited and there is no redress–it is wrong, it is a horror. This dishwasher is heroic, and you perfectly wrote about him. Your mom has a great son who writes about humble people–she is so proud of you, I know. Be happy always.

    Reply
  4. Nance

    Your mom is adorable!
    My mom died over 20 years ago. Mother’s Day was really difficult for many years. I have a couple of friends who have lost their moms as well. We called ourselves the Dead Moms Club (reluctantly accepting new members) and would go wine tasting on Mother’ Day. It was a classy way to get shit faced. Now I am a mom myself. Today is bittersweet. You never get over the death of a loved one, you just get used to it. Timothy Finn, who writes for the Kansas City Star said it well…
    “You can’t cure grief. It isn’t a virus or a tumor or a fracture or a wound. It can’t be medicated or extracted or mended or stitched. Grief is terminal, a condition, a disorder. In the way weather arouses pain in arthritic joints, memories awaken grief: a song, an aroma, a photograph, a movie, a time of day, an old coat or a pair of shoes.

    Time doesn’t heal grief; it nurtures it. Time is the vessel into which absences accumulate: from music recitals, from soccer games, from proms and graduations, from birthdays and holidays, from births, deaths, weddings and anniversaries, from disappointments and joys.

    Grief is yearning. Grief is nostalgia waltzing with sorrow. Grief is love in remission, in repose. Grief is love, unrequited, waiting.”
    Thanks for the post, Bitchy! I truly enjoy your blog.

    Reply
  5. Leigh

    Wait, I’m confused. I thought you said earlier that you WERE going to buy books for Baby? You changed your post from working with him currently to now not working with him?

    Is there even a Baby at all, or what? Kind of disappointed to know your stories are fiction as I always enjoy reading them. I feel like I just found out about Santa…

    Reply
    1. MW

      “Once worked with,” not “am working with.” “asked me to” buy, not “bought.” Read more carefully.

      Reply
      1. Leigh

        No, you read more carefully. I said the post was changed. This is not what he originally posted. Originally it was present tense, saying he still works with Baby.

        Sorry you didn’t get to see the first draft, but no need to be rude about it.

        Reply
  6. Joy

    Having said good-bye to m y precious lil’ Mama in 2008, not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. LOVE ’em while you GOT ’em. Tomorrow is NOT guaranteed.

    Reply

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