Mother of All Headaches

This makes no sense at all, dear blog reader, but just when self had utterly given up hope that blog would ever recover from trip to Hawaii (as viewership dropped drastically when self started going on and on and on about leis and salmon lomi and haupia and such), self blogs about Warriors vs. Dallas and self is back in stratosphere. Must be a lot of sports fans out there!

This morning, wake up with — yowza! — mother of all headaches. Was dreaming about Dearest Mum. Self was a little girl (well, actually a big girl who felt like a little girl) trailing behind her while Dearest Mum performed her usual miracles in social interaction. Remember doing this as a child: watching. Watching Dearest Mum. Whose effervescence was unmatched. Loving her so much and wanting to be her, that effervescent being. But, alas, feet stuck firmly in ground, seem not to have inherited the bubbly gene.

Also, dimly recall that last conversation with hubby before head hit the pillow was about son’s laptop. About whether Dearest Mum was really going to pay half of it, as she had promised. Whether self is going to call Dearest Mum today to remind her. Or whether we will just keep quiet and let son go through the rest of his college career on an allowance of $100 a month, as hubby adamant that he should not be alone in paying (Why not, self wants to inquire. Since you are earning in the stratosphere, or anyway what any writer would consider the stratosphere . . . ) Oh well, conversation inconclusive, must be why head is splitting now, hubby’s arguments wreaking havoc with my neurons.

Still dark, but stumble to living room (Also, have discovered that wireless does not work in the bedroom, so am back to the cord. Also, dearest laptop, which I wipe down religiously every day, now has strange scratches on screen. And black really does show up the dust, now regret decision to forego silver in favor of sleek black “Goth” look, as if having black laptop would magically increase “superstar” quotient — NOT!) to pick up Vanity Fair. Retrieve same, stumble back to bedroom, open to random page and see:

Odds of a child performing at Carnegie Hall: 1 in 73,000

Odds of a child being diagnosed with autism: 1 in 166

And it suddenly occurs to me that, indeed, Dearest Mum has played in Carnegie Hall as a child. She was 13 or 14. How do I know this? Because I have a black-and-white picture of her, wearing a dress with puffed sleeves, facing the audience, an orchestra (all white people) behind her. And the caption of the photo says: Carnegie Hall, New York, 1949.

1949! My God, just a few years after the war. During the war, recall Dearest Mum telling self that her mother forced her to continue practicing, wherever they were. The piano had to be carried through the rice fields (Think this would make a very good scene for a movie, wouldn’t you agree, dear blog reader? Something on the order of that Holly Hunter movie, where she and daughter played by Anna Paquin end up stranded on a god-forsaken beach, nothing with them but their clothes and a black piano). When the Americans came, Dearest Mum performed for the soldiers, and remembered loving the chocolate candy bars they rewarded her with.

Immediately after the war, self’s grandmother bundled up all five children and docile hubby, put all on a boat, and left for New York. Found a home in Flushing, and they lived there the next 10 years, while grandmother got Dearest Mum accepted to Curtis in Philadelphia. Dearest Mum would see the family only on weekends. She was the star. Even today, I see how her brothers and sisters idolize her.

And she had this fabulous, fabulous life. Araceli Dans painted a portrait of her, wearing white tulle. She got to wear evening gowns every time she performed. Self’s father, who was a law student at Georgetown, fell in love. As, who wouldn’t? And the rest, as they say, is history.

The superstar came home. Started a family. Raised two brainy and morose daughters and three good-looking boys. Lived happily in a country she re-discovered after her marriage. The sixties were such a great decade to be living in the Philippines (that is, if one had means). Daughters were in a convent school and wore little sailor blouses and plaid skirts. Lived in Forbes Park, hired kind and gentle security guard with propensity to fall asleep. House robbed only twice, the second time thieves dropped precious antique jars into creek behind the house; we found the shards there the next morning. Did not even have to have barbed wire protecting the perimeter, because behind house was a golf driving range — lawn littered with errant golf balls, and for years listened to the sound of tell-tale “tok-tok” of balls landing on roof. Had nine white Maltese dogs, father had given the first two to Dearest Mum as a birthday present, and they proliferated madly (like rabbits?). Since inbred, later generations were crazy, humped any and all guests, male or female, drooled, twitched. Eventually, thankfully, all died, the last carcass undiscovered in the (huge) garden for many days, finally maid came screaming at sight of indeterminate something covered with black ants.

Eeek! This was self’s life in the Philippines, dear blog reader. Who knew all would be triggered by sight of ad (for Autism Council) in Vanity Fair? Will wonders never cease?


  1. kathleen said,

    April 26, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    I absolutely loved this. This is amazing. Riveting images. I want to know more. Why did the family move to NY after the war? What happened to the family? The image of the piano practice through the war is so compelling. Pls.tell more. ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. April 27, 2007 at 2:54 pm


    Thanks so much for your comments. I will try to write more about this ๐Ÿ™‚

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