My mother and your mother drinking tea in heaven—no, not heaven, but that place you go to live after you die and have acquired certain skills.
Your mother wants to take my mother to the PX to stock up on Folgers coffee, Ritz crackers, and a couple of cases of gin. My mother wants to go to the new senior center because she read in the paper they’ll be showing a movie with Mario Lanza. Finally they settle on Italy where your mother was happy for a while.
Your mother shows my mother the apartment where she lived, the echoing courtyard, and in between the same laundry still flapping on the line, the volcano. After a couple of cappuccinos on the Via Manzoni, your mother agrees, out of her Southern courtesy, to go with my mother to Mexico.
Today is the day she’ll relive being the small girl in the white dress that hands Porfiro Díaz a bouquet of flowers. Overcome with joy, El Presidente announces that he won’t run for office ever again. ¡Viva! Hats and bullets fly through the air and my mother takes credit for starting the Mexican Revolution.
Your mother wants to go home to Charleston and eat some cheese pie made out of eggs, brown sugar, and butter. Mine wants to eat those hotcakes again she had the first time she crossed the border and thought, What strange tortillas these Gringos eat. As a compromise, they come to see how we’re doing in L.A.
But once here they forget why they came. My mother and your mother, on Olvera Street trying on straw hats. Your mother and my mother at the perfume counter in Bloomingdale’s, spraying Chanel N°5 on their wrists.
My mother and your mother at Musso and Frank’s. Your mother is deep into her peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream. Mine is table-hopping, collecting autographs. She can’t believe her luck, there’s Gilbert Roland having a martini with Dolores Del Rio.