SCENE: Weekly Sunday night call home. Chris is in bed already. I am still on the couch, with a glass of scotch for both encouragement and premeditated consolation. We were watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind earlier. The Superbowl is now on in the background. I have already listened to 1.5 hours of extended Asian family drama, including sibling issues, squabbles about money, and 40-year old grudges that used to be brought up once every few months, but which seem to be brought up every other week now (and almost always involve some tears of anger, regret, and anguish)…
ME: So you’ve spent so much time talking about dad’s family today, what about your own family?
MOM: What do you mean? I’ve already told you about my mom and dad, and how bitter and difficult their lives were, and how hard they had to work…
ME: Well, your son is part of your family too. And your son has some news for you. Chris and I have decided on the date of our wedding.
MOM: As I said last time, congratulations to you and to Chris.
ME: (after a pregnant pause). So are you going to come?
MOM: You know I don’t like to fly. I couldn’t handle such a long journey. But if you want, you should talk to your dad and he can decide for himself if he will go or not. All I want is for you and Chris to be happy.
ME: So that means you won’t come? It was just last year that you were saying that you and Auntie [her sister] wanted to visit me in London and then go to Paris.
MOM: But that was last year, and we never said when we were going to do it. It was going to be after I retire, but now…now I still have to work and your aunt has a bad back and can’t travel…
ME: So is it that you really are afraid to fly, or is that you just don’t want Auntie to find out why you are going to London, if you end up going without her?
MOM: (Long silence). [Busted!!]
ME: Well I don’t really care if you come or not. It’s your decision. But I would like you to come. You say you only want me to be happy. Well, it would make me very happy if you came. This is probably the most important day in my life, and I want my mother and father there with me. I want my brother and sister-in-law there with me. I want the family to be whole together, even if it’s just for one day, for the most important day. That would make me happy.
MOM: So what would you like for a gift? I’ll send you a gift.
ME: No, I don’t want a gift. And I don’t want your money either. I just want you to be there, to see me happy, and to be happy with me.
MOM: (More awkward silence).
ME: Well we’ve been on the phone over an hour and a half already and it’s really late now. Think about the wedding. Whether you come or not will be totally up to you. But it would really make me happy if you and dad did come.
ME: Stay happy. I love you.
MOM: I love you too.