I picked her up on Friday evening from the xe do (Vietnamese bus transportation). When she walked in the house, she was immediately impressed by how calm it felt, which was the exact feeling I had when I first saw it. I took her bags upstairs and gave her a brief tour, because my roommate was sleeping by this time.
The next morning, we woke up early to eat some breakfast. She was able to meet my roommate, who I consider an older sister and a kinder soul. While all three of us were talking and joking around, my mom looked at the both of us and said, "You know, when you two go out, people probably always think you're sisters." This only solidified the connection we have always felt with each other.
The plan was to go to the beach and take a walk, however, I managed to end up on Second Street in Long Beach. So I decided to give here a driving tour of my new work place in Laguna Hills instead. I showed her the mountains and hills that I love so much each and everyday I drive by and get to see and the office building. After wards, I took her to Diamond Jamboree to get some pastries and do grocery shopping at the Korean mart.
It was a lot of fun pushing the cart around and helping my mom pick out food for her to bring back to Northern California. I pointed out foods I have tried before and wanted her to try as well. It had been a long time since I've done grocery shopping with her, and it felt nice to be able to contribute opinions and suggestions to her.
By the time we were done, we were hungry and ready for some lunch. I called my roommate to let her know we were ready to meet her at Brodard, a Vietnamese restaurant in Little Saigon. They are famous for their spring rolls and I couldn't wait for my mom to try them. I suggested she get both styles of the rolls, the grilled pork and the grilled prawns. She really enjoyed both styles. I highly suggest all the rolls to anyone who enjoys the fresh Vietnamese food is and all the vegetables and flavors we use in the food.
After we had gone home to freshen up, we headed into China Town in Los Angeles to do shopping. I learned something new about my mother, she is VERY good at haggling with the vendors. She doesn't do it because she's cheap, she does it because she likes the banter of it and always made the vendors laugh and they couldn't say no. We managed to save a couple dollars, but watching it unfold was priceless.
I picked up a mini "money tree" to put into my office. These are considered lucky when you are in a new establishment, and I wanted to accumulate all the luck I can get! My mom bought a few sweater vests for my grandma and hats for my cousin, and we both considered it a very good shopping excursion.
We drove to West Hollywood to the DGA Theatre for the Film Festival. I met my friend there who had tickets and we got settled into the plush red seats. The last movie I had seen in the theater with my mother was Titanic, so this was a nice treat to share the experience with her. The movie, L'Arnacoeur (The Heart Breaker) was well done and my mom and I both really enjoyed it.
By the time the movie was over, it was getting close to dinner time. We decided to go back to Orange County to eat there. I wanted her to eat something different than Vietnamese food so we ate Tofu Soon, which is traditional tofu dish from Korea. She was surprised at all the side dishes that came with the meal and we picked through the little plates of pickled cucumbers and sauteed bean sprouts.
(Garden Grove, April 2009, iPhone)
Today I wanted to make sure my mom was able to go to the beach, so we picked up banh mi op la (Vientamese egg sandwich) and Vietnamese coffee and headed down PCH towards Laguna Beach. I wanted to show my mom my special spot that I have gone to a few times, and each time I do, I always come back with a clearer mind and calmer soul.
When we walked down to the cove, my mom took a deep breath and said it was very pretty and peaceful. The tide was higher today, so there were a few groups of scuba divers in the distant. We sat side by side on a rock and ate our sandwiches while we watched the waves break.
(Laguna Beach, April 2009, iPhone)We wandered the shore for a bit. I was picking through broken mussel shells looking for small rocks. The burnt brown color of this rock stood out to me against its gray background.
(Laguna Beach, April 2009, iPhone)I pulled out my Canon SLR to take a few pictures of my mom. I can't wait to see what the pictures will looked like once they are developed. As we stood side by side, I reached over and hugged her closely. It has been a hard transition for my mom to have me leave home almost two years ago and I know she struggles with the fact that I'm not there daily. I have also missed my mom a lot and although we are not that far away from each other, I needed to embrace her at that moment. I took a picture of us immediately after to preserve our weekend together.
(Laguna Beach, April 2009, iPhone)We visited a few Buddhist temples after wards to assure her I was close enough to them if I chose to go to them. By the time we were done with lunch in Little Saigon it was time for her to go back and pack to get ready to leave.
When I dropped my mom at the bus, I waited until she boarded safely and drove away. I missed my mom right after I hugged her and she boarded.
I met with my friend after for a workout at the gym. While driving home from Irvine, I turned off the radio and drove in silence to reflect the whole weekend. And slowly, tears started flowing down my face as I thought about my mother. I am tearing up as I right this as well.
At that moment, I really and truly understood the level of love a mother has for her child and I began sobbing as I thought about how my mom has always been there for me through my whole life. No matter how many arguments we've had, how many times I have told her to stop nagging me about things, she was always there. This weekend was the first time we have spent time one on one time together, and I was able to see a side of her I rarely see. She was just my mom, not mom and wife when my dad was around or mom and daughter when my grandma was around. This was just us and the impact it had on me was not what I was expecting.
Since the break up last summer, I have built a wall around my heart to protect it from really feeling affection because I equated it with pain. But slowly as time has gone on, I have opened up bit by bit, but today, everything came down, because I truly understood the meaning of unconditional love. My mom's love will never be duplicated nor found in anyone else and when I realized that, my heart hurt from all the times I was mad or annoyed at her. Because unlike many, even if we argue or get upset, she will never stop loving me.
All the love I thought I felt before with past friends and lovers pale in comparison with what I realized tonight. Those were conditional and ended when conditions were not met. A mother's love is truly unconditional and we take it for granted at times. My mother will always be the only one whom despite all the mistakes I have done and all the disappointments I caused her, she still sees me as someone special.
As I was crying and driving (safely, I promise), I thought of an article I read years ago that was an essay by a woman who had lost her mother. The one quote I remember from that was when she said, "I realized at that moment when she passed was I just lost the one person in the world who will always love me unconditionally."
In ending, I encourage you to reach out your mom. Spend a day or a weekend with her and take the time to learn things about her because she wants to get to know you too. And if your mom has passed, talk to her, she is always listening and watching out for you.