|Photo of me and mom at Long Beach, Calif. when I was a little munchkin.|
My mother was beautiful. I was five years old and in my eyes she could do no wrong and was all I needed in my world. Youthful, beautiful, and kind, she had a somewhat ethereal quality to her. In the morning, I’d watch her coif her long black hair into a perfectly-formed princess bun on top of her head as scents of Jergens lotion and Jean Nate cologne lingered in our downstairs bathroom.
She had dark almond-shaped eyes and porcelain white skin that complimented her petite figure. I held her hand as we walked down Oakmont Street to La Merced Elementary School to my kindergarten class on my first day of school. I cried so hard when I realized she was leaving me there. I had never been away from my mom before and so the thought of separation drove me to tears. I remember crying for what seemed an eternity in Mrs. Shaw’s class when a brown-haired Mexican girl asked me to play with her.
With one question, she broke my concentration on bawling and snapped me out of my reverie. We played, we laughed, napped, ate snacks and kindergarten wasn’t so bad after all. When mom returned to pick me up, we walked hand in hand up back up Oakmont Street along sidewalks that fronted manicured middle-class homes leading us back onto 4th Street to our house, where she made me the best Chicken of the Sea tuna sandwich with mayonnaise on white Wonder Bread.
Another time, she whispered to me, “We can’t talk in here, there are cameras and recorders set up in our house to spy on us,” so she’d insist on lecturing me in our backyard or front yard. As a child, I didn’t care about money too much since we always seemed to have enough for dinner or I simply didn’t know any better. But there were ensuing arguments between my parents night after night about money. I’d kneel by my bedside and pray to an unseen Christian Protestant God asking him to bring peace to our household.
It never came.