Sunday, April 10, 2005

Aragoy! And Happy Birthday... me! (And Bruno, Rita and Mando too!)

At 12:15 am in the middle of "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" I started clearing my throat and asking what time it was... and Mom and Dad sang Happy Birthday to me! hehehe It was quite funny... it must be pretty amazing to find yourself looking at your baby girl who now has hair grayer than yours! LOL

I always tease my parents on birthday that I was born exactly eight months and 29 days after their wedding... and my Mom just as consistenly says, "Oh no, your father was a good man... we never even kissed until we were engaged!" hahahaha I love to tease them like that!

Tonight I asked her what happened 45 years ago today, in the middle of the morning... she said, "Oh, I had a baby."

"Just any baby?"

"I had you."

"So tell me again."

"Well, it was early in the morning and your dad and Tito Sonny were holding me up, trying to get me to the car. I was telling your Tita Sol that I wanted to push so she said PUSH and I did and my water broke and I was in constant pain. So they helped me to the car.

"What time was it?"

"I don't remember. By eight in that morning I was having some pain, but I knew they'd just put me in the prima gravada room and..."

"The what?"

"It's when the mother's already in her 30s when she has her first kid... they were really careful with you back then. Even though I was only 33, they would've put me there and I would have had to stay in bed all day and do nothing. At least at home I could have washed the dishes, done some ironing--"

"Haven't changed a bit, have you, Mom?"

"Nope. How boring would that be? But I think I waited too late... because then I really felt like bearing down. We only lived one minute away from the hospital but I wanted to go in the car because I couldn't walk anymore. But it took awhile because your dad couldn't back out of the driveway. I think he was nervous."

Dad chirped in, "I told her she should have walked -- it was only one block!" (Somehow I think they've had this little discussion a million times :)

"So when I went in I was already pre-admitted since I worked there and I was too far along they didn't even put me in a bed, they sent me straight to the delivery room."

"So did you feel me coming out?"

"No, I told you, back then they put everyone to sleep. But when I woke up, your dad was at my bedside and said, 'Honey, we have a baby girl.'"

"Awwww... Mom, how long were you asleep?"

"Only about 20 minutes... it was a light laughing gas. It was very painful!"

"Were you screaming? Because you normally have such a high tolerance for pain."

"Well, not really--"

"Yes, she was," Dad interrupted. "'AraGOY!"

We all laughed -- how cute that was to catch my mom in as unlikely a situation as her screaming -- and so much so that she had to do it in her old childhood dialect that she can't even remember anymore.

"AraGOY!" my dad kept teasing. Of course, it's a more "hicksville" dialect than his -- she's from Surigao in the Visayas -- and he loved to mimic it. Most of the time Filipinos will yell, "A-RAY!" (pronouced "a-RYE" like rye bread), and here's my Thoroughly Modern Mama screaming, "AraGOY!" like Tarzan. hehehe

It's a very sweet picture... a lot esteem-friendlier than the one she told me over a decade ago when I was taking an acting class and our teacher told us to ask our mothers about the circumstances of our birth. He said a lot of what happens during our birth imprints on us even through our adulthood... so it would behoove us to find out what that was, and that there were other therapies (rebirthing, etc.) that could help us understand it all...

After struggling to get my mother to remember ANYTHING, I finally was able to get her to almost role play that night... she was obviously very, very there. So again, I got her to, "And your dad came in and said, 'Honey, we have a baby girl.'"

"But I had a feeling it was a girl... I never had a boy's name, and everything I touched was pink. And I knew with your brothers too... I never had girls' names when I was pregnant with them."

"But back to me, Mom... when did you see me?"

"Oh, they brought you in right away."

Now this was the moment I was looking for... what that thing was that was supposedly imprinted on my psyche that caused me to spend ton 'o dollars on shrinks:

"So they bring me in, Mom, and you see me..."


"And what did you think when you first saw me?"

"Oh, napakapanggit ang anak ko!"

I was shocked. Translated: "How ugly is the child of mine!"

Ouch. Yeah. AraGOY!

But it's been years since that telling of my birth, and I'd really gotten over that. My mama... she's no sentimental gal... and it hasn't killed me, so no biggy anymore... but tonight I, being the masochistic nutcase I am, just wanted to test the waters:

"Mom, did I look like anybody when you first saw me?"

"No. And I didn't know your dad's family."

"Did I have hair?"

"Yes. We all had hair, so you had hair."

Okay, she just wasn't gonna say I was a cute baby, so I wasn't gonna push the ugly statement either -- for what? More torture? No thanks, have had enough for awhile! I'm going to bed tonight giggling and thinking of my mother in the rollers I set in her hair and my dad in a grovelly voice singing happy birthday and appearing with a little present when I staring at Ellen Burstyn and Sandra Bullock...

There's no ARAGOY in this birthday today -- HAPPY DAY TO ME!