What Mother Doesn’t Know

Hello Mr. Magazine - - NEWS - Text by Marcelo Agudo Art by Louis Fratino

I came out to my mother at 21. I was in Madrid and call­ing from a pre­paid phone so I had to be brief.

Three years later, my mother be­gan to come out for me.

She saw it as her duty. First were my grand­par­ents, whom I hadn’t told, cit­ing their health and con­ser­va­tive val­ues. That’s not fair, she thought. She sat them down separately and asked that they be ac­cept­ing of me. She didn’t ask for my per­mis­sion. I only found out when she called me af­ter­wards to tell me what she’d done. Then came the rest of the fam­ily, some­times even friends. I’d re­ceive phone calls and texts from peo­ple I hadn’t spo­ken to in years.

“I’m so proud of you,” some said. Though I hadn’t ex­actly done any­thing.

I was vis­it­ing home in Miami, and we were at a restau­rant on the bay when we ran into her friend and her friend’s son whom I had known in el­e­men­tary school. “How’s ev­ery­thing?” “With Marcelo? He’s gay,” my mother said, as though she was say­ing she or­dered crab cakes. “Oh. Wow. Cool. OK.” The woman said to me. I of­ten re­served from an­swer­ing those calls. Tyler asked me once if what my mother did both­ered me. It was, af­ter all, my right, wasn’t it?

My mother as­sumed I would do th­ese things in time, but she was anx­ious about telling my grand­mother, per­haps the cat­a­lyst for all this. We had thought her for­get­ful­ness was sim­ply a mat­ter of age un­til she was di­ag­nosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago. My mother fills her weekly medicine ra­tions, plas­tic con­tain­ers of pills that are some­times taken the wrong day. She drives her to the hair salon twice a month. She has had to, on at least one oc­ca­sion, ex­plain to her who her grand­chil­dren are. Once she in­sisted my mother wasn’t her child. I didn’t think she would han­dle the news, but my mother thought she de­served to.

My grand­mother is a strong woman. Her par­ents died young, and she was raised by her broth­ers in a big farm­house de­void of rules. She told me one brother would walk his horse around in­side their home. She mar­ried young. She and her hus­band be­came po­lit­i­cal refugees. Then she started and ran a busi­ness in a new coun­try, rais­ing four chil­dren. Her ex­pe­ri­ence has made her re­served and dis­tant. I re­mem­ber see­ing my grand­fa­ther af­fec­tion­ately grab her arm and tell her he loved her. She looked at him and re­sponded, “I know.”

My mother, on the other hand, is prob­a­bly much too close and open. She re­fuses to ac­cept bound­aries. When I was in high school, we shared se­crets mother and son usu­ally hide from each other. We drank to­gether. We shared mu­sic. She told me about her sex life and as­sumed my own

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.