Monday, October 09, 2006

Mom's birthday

Today is Mom's birthday. Even though she's officially retired, she's still as busy as she ever was. Because of the time difference, landline phone without voice mail/answering machine and no cell phone, it's very hard to reach her.

She spends everyday except Sundays doing errands and housework for my grandmother. She starts around 8 a.m., takes an afternoon nap and finishes up around 6:30 p.m. She then has dinner with Dad, then spends many of her evenings playing mah-jongg. I've tried calling Mom at my grandmother's place during the day, but I usually end up getting one of the domestics. They don't speak English and my Cantonese really sucks, so I wait and try to catch her at the end of her nap.

I haven't met anyone so addicted to mah-jongg as much as Mom. She's played for as long as I can remember. We got to know the other Chinese kids in the central Ohio area because Mom often played with other mothers who brought their children. During the summer months, it wasn't rare to be out after 2 a.m. When we got older and didn't have to go with her anymore, she'd play until 4 a.m. and get up 4 hours later to go to work. I remember always seeing at least 4 sets of m-j tiles around the house. We had a family room added to our house exclusively for mah-jongg.

During the blizzard of '78, our family restaurant was forced to close for 2 days. So what did my parents do? They had the staff come over to our house and play m-j. Whenever relatives drove in from Cleveland to visit, they'd play as soon as they got to the house until 4 a.m., or until my relatives decided to head back. Once I moved to San Francisco and came back to visit at Christmas, she'd always drive after dinner regardless of the weather to play with friends at their restaurants. This has continued since she and Dad moved to New York. There's only a few nights she doesn't play.

My cousin Chel told Mom last year one can now play m-j on the computer. Mom's not computer literate, and I know for her it wouldn't be any fun. For Mom, m-j is the ideal way to be able to relax and have fun. It's just past 1 a.m. in NYC, and I bet she's still playing.

Happy birthday, Mom.
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