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Rated: E · Interview · Pets · #2249098
A conversation with my Mom as to why pets weren't allowed in our house
As a child I remember having such a yearning of owning my own pet, to be more precise, a dog. I was so angry, and sad, about the fact that we were not allowed to have a pet of any kind. I yearned for my own dog so badly, dreaming constantly of that day my Mom would finally break down, and say, “Yes Sweetie, you can have a dog”.

Once, when I was seven, a friend's dog had puppies and I brought one home. My thinking was, “once she sees this adorable puppy, how could she say no?”, boy was I wrong. She said, "Absolutely Not!", and made me take it back. So it was that I had to wait until I was an adult before I could have my first pet, which of course was a dog.

Over the years there were many more dogs who followed that first one. As a matter of fact, through a twenty year period, I had between 4-6 dogs at one time! It was pure heaven. One afternoon while enjoying my little pack, a question began to form, “Why did my Mom not like pets? How could someone not love these babies!”. It was one of many questions I would have to remember to ask her the next time I went to visit. That wouldn't be for another year or so, as I lived in California and my Mom lived in a little town about 3 hours South of Anchorage, in Kenai Alaska. I guess I could have asked her over the phone but I liked seeing her expressions when she described things, so I figured, I've waited this long, what's a little longer?

I was given the news that my Mom was in the early stages of Alzheimer s, and I knew I wanted to get as much video of her as possible before her memory was completely gone. It was time to visit my Mom, and as soon as possible. I wanted to film her telling of her childhood, her family history, our family history, and most important, why she didn't want pets. I packed my camcorder and off I went to visit her.

In Kenai

After a couple of days visiting with my Mom, I informed her that I would like film her. When she heard this, she couldn't wait, and was ready to jump right into her “Interview”. I knew my Mom was never shy about being the center of attention, but hadn't realized just how much until after the “Interview”.

Since the kitchen was her favorite room in the house, I decided to set up my camera on the tripod facing there. The camera was aimed towards where my Mom would sit, right at her kitchen table. Once I was all setup, I asked her to sit down in her chair, the one I had prepared for her. She brought with her a cup of coffee, and proceeded to spend several minutes arranging her cup on the table, for it had to be “just right” for her “Interview”. Having turned it in several different positions, she was finally satisfied how it was set, and then asked, “Mijita, does this look good?”. With a big smile, I let her know it looked great.

After the coffee cup was set to her satisfaction, she then proceeded to arrange herself in her chair. She smoothed out her “muumuu” (it's a Hawaiian dress which she wore most of the time), and changed positions several times until she felt comfortable. Finally, in what she felt gave her best presence, she then set her right elbow on the table, and rested her forearm on the table in front of herself. She wasn't done. She then brought her left hand up to her right hand, which was resting on the table, and intertwined her fingers. With her hands now clasped on the edge of the table, and posed, she then asked, “Do I look good?”. She looked so cute, and serious, making it so hard for me not to laugh. "Mamma, you look wonderful.", I told her.

At this point my older brother joined us and sat on the sofa behind me. I hit the record button on my camera, and proceeded to ask her questions:

Me: So Mom, what can you tell me about your childhood?

Mom: Well, I'm the oldest of a bunch of kids, there were 12 of us, 5 boys and 7 girls, all born about 1 to 2 years apart. One of the girls died when she was about 3 years old. Her name was Virginia and she was a year younger than me. Mamma said she got sick.

Me: What was it like for you as a kid?

Mom: Well, we were pretty poor. When I was real little my Dad was a sheep herder and worked for his family on their farm. They had a lot of sheep. We lived out in the country, so sometimes, when he went into town he would take me with him. I was the only one he would take with him, (she had a big smile when she said this). I was about 3 or 4 and loved riding on the horse drawn wagon with my Dad, just him and me. Later he worked in the Silver Mines up in Silverton, from then on, he was gone a lot so I didn't get to spend time with him alone anymore."

At this point, my Mom reached her hand and lifting up her cup, took a sip of her coffee, all of this done ever so slowly and with her pinky finger pointing up, like she'd seen in the movies. When finished, she then again, very slowly set the cup back down, and asked, “Was that good?” Confirming her “acting” was ok, I laughed and let her know that it was great, and I wanted her to just be herself. Now I realize, she was.

She went on and spoke of many events in her family, us as kids, and a lot of things that happened in her life. Then I remembered that old nagging question, “Why didn't my Mom like pets?” and decided to ask her.

Me: Mom, for as long as I can remember you have never liked pets and wouldn't let any of us kids have one. I can't ever remember you or any of your brothers or sisters ever talking about having pets either. You didn't have any when you were a kid? No dogs, cats, anything? Why was that?"

Mom: "Oh, let me tell you -
(I might mention, at hearing this question, she became very animated and sat straight up in her chair, forgetting the pose and raising one hand up, pointed her finger at me),
- Well, it was on one of the trips with my Dad into town. He had left me sitting in the wagon for a bit while he went into the store to get something. When her returned, he had something wrapped in a blanket. It wasn't very big and while he handed it to me, he said, “Mira, mijita, te traje algo especial” (look my daughter, I bought you something special).
He put this bundle in my arms and I gently pulled back a part of the blanket to see what was inside. -

(My Mom began demonstrating by folding her arms as though cradling a baby and started pulling back the invisible blanket)
- Inside was wrapped this white fluffy kitten! It had LONG white hair! I took one look at this kitten and -

(at this point, she threw her hands in the air and began making loud gagging sounds, like she was going to vomit! With her nose wrinkled, and a look of total disgust on her face, she then raised her voice higher, saying)
- I began gagging and wanted to throw up! -

(She immediately calmed back down and very calmly stated, in a matter of fact manner)
- So since then, I didn't want anything to do with any kind of animal!"

My Mom slowly took another sip of her coffee, pinky in the air. Both my brother and I could not stop laughing.

That was all there was to it! No pets in my childhood because of a white fluffy kitten! I can't help but wonder, what if my grandfather had only given her a cute cuddly puppy instead?
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