Coming to america movie essay

Mount Pinatubo. Volcanic mudflows called lahars continued for more than a decade, burying ancient villages, filling in rivers and valleys, and wiping out entire ecosystems. So much of our family record had been lost in wars and floods, and now parts were buried under 20 feet of mud. Life here is routinely visited by cataclysm. Killer typhoons that strike several times a year. Bandit insurgencies that never end. Somnolent mountains that one day decide to wake up. This is a nation of scattered rocks in the sea. When disaster hits, the place goes under for a while.

Ivan had never finished high school. His marriage to my mother was volatile from the start, and money—especially his use of her money—was the main issue. Once, during an argument in which Mom was crying and Ivan was yelling, Lola walked over and stood between them. She turned to Ivan and firmly said his name.

He looked at Lola, blinked, and sat down. My sister Inday and I were floored. Ivan was about pounds, and his baritone could shake the walls. Lola put him in his place with a single word. I saw this happen a few other times, but for the most part Lola served Ivan unquestioningly, just as Mom wanted her to. I had a hard time watching Lola vassalize herself to another person, especially someone like Ivan.

But what set the stage for my blowup with Mom was something more mundane. She used to get angry whenever Lola felt ill. I said that Lola needed to see a dentist. She was in her 50s and had never been to one. I was attending college an hour away, and I brought it up again and again on my frequent trips home. A year went by, then two. Lola took aspirin every day for the pain, and her teeth looked like a crumbling Stonehenge. One night, after watching her chew bread on the side of her mouth that still had a few good molars, I lost it. Mom and I argued into the night, each of us sobbing at different points.

I let her words sink in.

The night ended when she declared that I would never understand her relationship with Lola. Her voice was so guttural and pained that thinking of it even now, so many years later, feels like a punch to the stomach. The look in her eyes made clear that she felt the same way about me. Mom drove her harder. Your kids are worried about you. Who would take care of us? Of Mom? Coming to America had been a mad dash, and before we caught a breath a decade had gone by. We turned around, and a second decade was closing out. She was ashamed to return. She had no contacts in America, and no facility for getting around.

Phones puzzled her. Mechanical things—ATMs, intercoms, vending machines, anything with a keyboard—made her panic. Fast-talking people left her speechless, and her own broken English did the same to them. I got Lola an ATM card linked to my bank account and taught her how to use it. She succeeded once, but the second time she got flustered, and she never tried again. She kept the card because she considered it a gift from me. I also tried to teach her to drive.

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I spent 20 minutes going over the controls and gauges. Her eyes went from mirthful to terrified.

Kalahari Review

When I turned on the ignition and the dashboard lit up, she was out of the car and in the house before I could say another word. I tried a couple more times. I thought driving could change her life. She could go places. And if things ever got unbearable with Mom, she could drive away forever. Four lanes became two , pavement turned to gravel. Tricycle drivers wove between cars and water buffalo pulling loads of bamboo. An occasional dog or goat sprinted across the road in front of our truck, almost grazing the bumper.

Doods never eased up. I took out a map and traced the route to the village of Mayantoc, our destination. Out the window, in the distance, tiny figures folded at the waist like so many bent nails. People harvesting rice, the same way they had for thousands of years. We were getting close.

It's Story Time

I tapped the cheap plastic box and regretted not buying a real urn, made of porcelain or rosewood. Not that many were left. Only one sibling remained in the area, Gregoria, 98 years old, and I was told her memory was failing. She had the day planned: When I arrived, a low-key memorial, then a prayer, followed by the lowering of the ashes into a plot at the Mayantoc Eternal Bliss Memorial Park. All day I had been feeling intense grief and resisting the urge to let it out, not wanting to wail in front of Doods.

More than the shame I felt for the way my family had treated Lola, more than my anxiety about how her relatives in Mayantoc would treat me, I felt the terrible heaviness of losing her, as if she had died only the day before. Doods veered northwest on the Romulo Highway, then took a sharp left at Camiling, the town Mom and Lieutenant Tom came from. Two lanes became one, then gravel turned to dirt. The path ran along the Camiling River, clusters of bamboo houses off to the side, green hills ahead. The homestretch. That she was brave and spirited. That she was radiant when she was happy.

An Analysis of the Movie, Coming to America | Kibin

That I wished we could thank her one more time. That we all loved her. Just as I had selectively blocked Lola out of my mind when I was with Mom during her last years. Loving my mother required that kind of mental surgery. Breast cancer. Acute myelogenous leukemia, a fast-growing cancer of the blood and bone marrow. She went from robust to frail seemingly overnight. After the big fight, I mostly avoided going home, and at age 23 I moved to Seattle.

In America

When I did visit I saw a change. Mom was still Mom, but not as relentlessly. She got Lola a fine set of dentures and let her have her own bedroom. It was a long process, but Lola became a citizen in October , four months after my mother was diagnosed with leukemia. Mom lived another year.

During that time, she and Ivan took trips to Lincoln City, on the Oregon coast, and sometimes brought Lola along.

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  • Lola loved the ocean. On the other side were the islands she dreamed of returning to. And Lola was never happier than when Mom relaxed around her. An afternoon at the coast or just 15 minutes in the kitchen reminiscing about the old days in the province, and Lola would seem to forget years of torment. But I did come to see Mom in a different light.