Thursday, 16 April 2009

Dear Mom

I don't receive many emails from my mother at all. Despite the fact that I have lived hundreds and even thousands of miles away from home for years on end, my mother's preferred mode of communication has always been the telephone. I prefer it too...when I have caller ID. But the few emails she has sent me over the years prove that she has no concept of the modern speak we have adopted in this 21st century technological era. Her emails read like a Dickens novel, but in Italian. And honestly, there are few other languages in which one can flourish in such an over-the-top manner than Italian. When I read her emails they might as well show up on my screen in her perfect cursive, so exacting and polite and complexly conjugated are her verbs. It's like a letter from Dante. Except I doubt he would write to bitch about my father.

The worst part is that I often react to these communiques like a teenager who shows up to her grandmother's birthday party in ripped jeans and a lumberjack shirt. Last winter, while I was living in London, I received a particularly effusive email from my mother telling me that she and my father had extended their annual winter trip to Acapulco by a few weeks due to the particularly harsh weather conditions back home. She proceeded to paint Toronto as a winter wasteland, an arctic hell of thigh-deep snow, frigid winds, treacherous road conditions and the ensuing implacable rage of cold Canadians. Thus, she and my father decided instead to bask in the glory of Mexico's unrelenting sun and cloudless skies, enjoying the company of their Snow Bird friends with whom they would while away the days playing cards, taking day trips on the yacht and eating a lot. My mother claimed to have (and I translate directly from Italian) "rounded out even more." Her email closed with a "really, really tight hug and lots of big kisses." To which my lumberjack shirted self replied: "Nice life, lady. I'll call you later."

My mother eventually caught on to the fact that my brother and I would snicker about these emails behind her back, but she still can't help herself. Instead, she's taken to adding a post script wherein she acknowledges the formality of her writing and encourages us to laugh openly about it. I guess after all these years of being submitted to our taunting she's learned that she stands a better chance of survival by allowing it to happen rather than feign offense. Thing is, we'll laugh either way.

Much as the emails from my mother can often make my head spin, they don't hold a candle to some of the missives others receive from their dear old moms. Check out this new book: "Love, Mom: Poignant, Goofy, Brilliant Messages From Home" by Doree Shafrir and Jessica Grose. Relentless emails about grandchildren and safe sex practices from you mom? I'll take Dante anyday.

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