My mom seems to be ahead of her time. She has seen a glimpse of a rural life when she was a child, experienced how it is to live in a small town, and was exposed to the big city after she graduated from high school. And this all happened in a far away, Third World land (Iran to be exact), where she was born and spent most of her adult life.
My grandfather reluctantly gave her permission to move to the capital, Tehran, in pursuit of higher education. He was not apprehensive about the education part, but the fact that she would be away from her family. This was a novel concept at the time.
Of course, she had to live with her uncle’s family during this time. Living the single life was not an option for most young people back then. After a few years in the big city, she got married in her early 20s which marked her entrance to adulthood. This was quite the norm in those days. For better or worse, not much has changed for many of Glendale’s youngsters even in this day and age.
I am still pleasantly surprised at my mom’s world view.
Recycling has always been a big thing for her life. She inherently practiced environmentally-friendly habits when the idea was neither cool nor hip. Perhaps experiencing the rural life at young age gave her a perspective of how important preserving nature can be to all of us.
She has also always been an advocate of healthy eating and good nutrition. Her insistence to toast bread until the dough was somewhat unrecognizable gave me some cause for protest when I was a kid. Now I cannot stand mushy bread, and do not have to have carbohydrates with every meal. Sweets, candy and pastries were almost a rarity at our house. This was one of my dad’s complaints about our family diet. When he got desperate he would resort to pointing out the possibility of impromptu visits by guests to stack up on our supply of pastries. He would say: “What if we had guests?”
It was always a no-win situation. When it came to health issues, my mom was stubborn.
Fried eggs were also not too welcome at our house. If on occasion, my dad craved them, mom would have to make sure they were “free range” and the frying oil was minimal and extracted from vegetables. This was during a time period when animal fat was the preferred oil for cooking.
Back then, “free range” meant exactly that. Somehow she would identify a local farmer and have him deliver the eggs to our house. This was her own version of a “farmer’s market.”
In addition to physical health, mom has always been an advocate of safeguarding our identity. Identity theft has become a concern during the past decade or so.
Whether the theft is regarding credit cards or computer security, many of us know people who have been victims to these crimes. Protecting one’s own identity can sometimes be a matter of common sense, yet the process can be time consuming.
At one point, I had transported all my work archives to my parents’ home for storage. Old taxes, sales tax documentations, and void checks took a lot of physical space.
Once they were considered obsolete by the government, they had to be disposed. My method was the direct route to the trash, only to find out that they had been retrieved by my mom the same day and put through a disposal method that even FBI and the CIA agents would have been proud of.
The procedure did not just involve shredding as the pieces could supposedly be put back together by criminal elements, but a long and arduous path of placing checks in special liquids to wash away account number and inked signatures.
Seeing my old checks occupying the bathtub for days seemed excessive at the time, but may have saved me some headache in the long run.
I owe many of my good habits to my mom. I still have a vice or two. But she can’t be held responsible for those.
We are not only a product of nurture, but also nature.
PATRICK AZADIAN is a writer and the creative director of a local marketing and graphic design studio living in Glendale. He may be reached at respond@ fromthemargins.net.