My mom and I look alike. Though I have a moonier face, we’re basically twins born 35 years apart. We have nibbly knobs for chins, flapping lobes for ears, and huge gums for teeth.
Save for a dog-food-induced popped lung or two, we have identical health records, too. We both suffer from cold sores, occasional bouts of granuloma annulare, and an inability to be ashamed of our poop. As a self-diagnosed hypochondriac, it’s helpful to have my mom as a personal blueprint for my own health. Always looking for what disease I’ll inherit next, I have made a practice of surveying my trick mother. In 2009, whilst surveying my trick mother, I found a suspicious red welt on her forehead.
My dad had had a similar growth on his shoulder a few years prior, and it had turned out to be basal cell carcinoma — a benign type of skin cancer. Benign or benot, cancers is scary. As soon as I noticed the welt on my mom, I asked her to go to the skin doctor to get it checked out. After three years of my nagging, she finally did this past May.
It was basal cell carcinoma. Lady had to go and get her head all chopped up.
As upsetting as it was to learn my mom had skin cancer, it wasn’t the most upset I’ve ever been by her health. When I was 12 and my sister Beanie was 14, my mom’s health upsat us so badly it changed our lives.
Me: Mom, you’re my favorite mommy. Want to do fun mother-daughter bull, like read gossip magazines?
Beanie: Me too! Me too!
Mom: Of course, sweet children. I love reading celebrity tabloids. Pass me one!
Me: Here! I know how much you love the VH1 movie about her family. You even named our cats after her brothers. Take this one!
Mom: Huh? Wha? Hibbidy jibbidy, who dat be?
(My sister and I break out into immediate, violent sobs. Our mom doesn’t recognize Janet Jackson.)
Me: Ooohhhh laaaaaaaaawwwwddd.
Beanie: What… does… this… mean?
Me: QUICK! GRAB THE OTHER MAGAZINE. MOM, WHO IS THIS?
Mom: C’mon! Everyone knows who that is. It’s that… guy. Who’s dating the… umm… the girl. Ya’ll know.
(Beanie and I cry even harder. She doesn’t know who Justin Timberlake is and can’t remember Britney Spears.)
About 30 minutes later, while my sister and I were still mourning the abrupt loss of our mother’s sanity, my mammy got knocked out by a massive migraine. Apparently her vision/mind had been funked up from the impending headache. That’s why, in addition to begging my mom to visit the dermatologist, Beanie and I quiz her on Janet’s face at least once a month.
…The health I have to look forward to!