Published on December 1st, 2022 | by Lisa Lim0
Mi Madre: Part IV, MS
How’s your petita?
Don’t ask me about my petita! It’s there!
Mi Madre doesn’t like to talk about her legs. They are broken from multiple sclerosis (MS).
You know people used to think I was always drunk. I cross the street and then my leg gives up. I fall and have to catch myself. I remember this stupida woman said, “What a shame.” She’s thinking I come from the bar drunkita. Can you believe that mi Nina Bonita? Some people are so stupida.
I first noticed her MS walking across Northern Boulevard in Queens. It’s the kind of boulevard that you had exactly 30 seconds to cross or a Mack truck was going to squash you under a Goodyear tire. In between crossing it, mi Madre’s gait suddenly trembled. Later we found out it was MS.
Romance at Walmart
Mi Madre called them “romantica dates.” It was when she and her “Nasty” went to Walmart or BJs. Mi Madre was wheel bound from her MS, and my father would stroll her up and down the air-conditioned aisles of superstores for fun, especially during hot, steamy summer days. She squealed like a mouse when he steered too fast, but I think she secretly loved it. Sometimes, I would crash their romantica dates and use mi Madre as a human shopping cart. While she ripped through coupons from the daily flyers for me, I would pile toiletries high on her lap racing up and down the aisles being careful not to snag her clothes on anything jutting out.
Ma loved every second.
Dancing on the Ceiling
Before her MS, mi Madre used to love dancing in the kitchen. We always had the radio blasting and we’d dance ourselves dizzy. She tried to teach me salsa with the Queen, Celia Cruz, but I didn’t have the booty for the moves. She taught me to listen to the music. “Azucar! Escucha la musical and dance like you mean it. Everybody will think you have a booty, mi nina bonita. Comprende?”
After MS, we’d improvise. I’d put on Lionel Richie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling” and she would grab Knobbita, her old beagle and two fat cats, Rocky and Rascal and start dancing in her chair. I danced around them. And we felt so free.
The Mouse Hole
Mi Madre could only walk in this one pair of white Reebok sneakers. She swore they were the only pair of shoes she could stand to walk in. She kind of walked like a pirate with one leg anchored down on floor, she’d drag the other the meet the anchor. And then repeat. This slow shuffle would continue until she made it across the room. Don’t rush me. Don’t look at me. She warned. Or she would get too nervous to walk. She wore those shoes until two large holes appeared, one at the tip of each. To convince her to change shoes, I’d tell her the mice were going to mistake them for mouseholes and make a home in her shoe. To this, she said, Aye, no mi nina bonita, don’t talk stupidty. And tell your father, don’t even think of duct taping them. You know how I feel about duct tape.
Mi Madre likes to tell stories. Whenever I ask her how her weekend was, she tells me a tall tale. Here is one of them she likes to repeat.
Nasty and I went to a party! We went dancing! We went to Atlantic City!
No really Ma, what did you do?
I told you! Nasty and I partied and danced. I played black jack. Why do you have to be so nasty mi nina bonita? Being nasty makes you fea. You don’t want to be mi nina fea? Do you nasty girl?
I remember our trips to Atlantic City growing up. We would walk along the dirty boardwalk and watch seagulls steal ice cream cones right from our hands. I remember the taffy candy stuck on my mouth rooftop and thinking this was the life.
Check out the full Mi Madre story