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Sat, July 20

Column | I think I’m going to call Mom twice this year

Mom and I are very different. We disagree on what is important in life. I say books, and she says shoes. But there is one thing that, over the years, we’ve established as a common current of love – food.

My quintessentially Polish Mom thinks American eggs and milk taste better than anywhere else in the world.

It was she who had brought me to the U.S. for the first time when I was 18. She had just divorced my father, met another man, a Polish-American, remarried, and left the country.

Soon, she found me a summer job as a nanny, and I spent the whole summer in the Washington D.C. area. It was there where I first heard about the diversity visa lottery, which got me my green card and, eventually, my U.S. citizenship.

When I arrived, Mom introduced me to American culture the way she was discovering it – through Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch, and Best Foods Real Mayonnaise. But she missed Poland, and when I say she missed Poland, I mean she missed Polish kielbasa, her big vegetable garden, and her local dairy store known for its excessive selection of hard cheeses.

While I decided to use my green card and move to America after finishing college, my mom was ready to go back and settle down in the place she was born. She returned to the house in western Poland that I still consider my home, and she shares it with my sister, her husband, and their two fun, noisy kids. Before I left, Mom lent me all her savings, $5,000, so I could start my new life in the U.S.

I’m rarely home anymore, but it is not difficult to imagine what my mother is doing at any given moment on the other side of the puddle.

If she is not sleeping, she is cooking. And even if she claims she is not cooking anything, she’s cooking something – her golabki, cabbage leaves wrapped around a filling of minced meat (just in case someone shows up unexpectedly), or her killer poppy seed cake with homemade red currant jam (for the weekend).

Whenever I do go to Poland, I bring gifts for my beautiful family. Gifts for my mother are the worst, because they are the heaviest: Cajun seasoning in bulk, Kraft Grated Parmesan, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Sabra Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.

Mom does not expect a phone call from me today. That’s because Mother’s Day in Poland is celebrated on May 26. But it feels exactly the same.

I think I will give her a call twice this year.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, and “Wszystkiego Najlepszego w Dniu Matki” – to mine.

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