I talked to my mother yesterday; it was mother’s day in Costa Rica. I called her early, 9am their time, 2pm mine. I received a note from her partner two days before: It is mother’s day in two days; please don’t forget to call your mom. I am glad to have received this message; I am glad that someone across the ocean looks after my mom. It’s been over ten years since I left, since I said, bye mama, I’m gone. Ten years, or more, in which I have not been there to give her a kiss in the cheek on her day, August 15th, or drink a mimosa with her, the drink she used to order and sip, in the Marriot Hotel.
No Marriot Hotel this year, she tells me. Strained times with my brother, the one that stayed there with her, all these years. No Marriot, I said, and remembered us younger, both her and I, going with my mother and her mother, when she was alive, in a caravan to the Marriot Hotel in Santa Ana, where mimosas were served, on their mother’s day.
Lunch with my partner, she says, that partner that wrote to me, two days before, remember to call your mother, it’s her day. We are buying a house together, my mother says, the house in the corner, an idyllic place. I close my eyes while I talk to her and I try to cross an ocean in seconds, to be there, in that neighborhood where I grew up and my mother still lives. I want to see that house, that house in the corner, that dream of my mom, but it’s all a blur, and yet I say, yes mom, I know, I can see it, and as I say it a picture of a beautiful house begins to shape in front of my eyes. Perhaps a house that in some years, when I become older or a mother myself, I would like to live in. She tells me the house is big, colonial perhaps, and that it has fine woods and big windows and that she would fulfill a dream of her own: to have a private large room surrounded by books. And now I can see my mom, with her dyed her that covers her age, sitting on her large bed, sheltered by hundreds of volumes that she hopes will say something about who she is, something deeper than a testament, something that will subsist longer than children can do. I see her in that ample room, I see her smile, I feel her pleasure, and I smile myself. I feel connected to that woman that perhaps without knowing, gave me that love for books. I know, like the most transparent truth on Earth, that we belong together because I, as well, treasure a picture of fulfillment in the same way, me surrounded by books that I hope will tell a story larger than myself.
And then my mom moves on to different topics, still related to the new house in the corner. She talks about money and percentages. Her partner can put in more than she can. A flash of disappointment crosses though me. Why, does she make more money than you? I ask. No, my mother says, and she shakes her head, covered by her dyed hair, and fixes her glasses, which fell out of place. It’s simply that she can get a loan, and I can’ t, not anymore. It’s not certain, but her partner is 20 or 25 years younger than her. I blink and shake my head as well. No more loans to my mother, never again. I hear the ocean that separates us, and has for 10 years, roar. I feel it stir while I imagine my mother slowly walking with a little collection of personal belongings towards the paradise house in the corner, where she will look at her books with a pleasant smile, until she can.
And then we hang up because silence begins to swallow our voices. I stare at the screen, still seeing my mother walking slowly down the road, and I realize, as I always do, that once again I failed to say this: I love you, mom, and I always have.