Anxious to get the conversation over, I interrupted.Â “Mama Rose, what can I do for you?”
Mama Rose hesitated before revealing the reason for the call.Â “You know that Tiresa and Mika announced their engagement a couple of weeks ago?”
Cold fingers of dread wrapped themselves around my heart.Â Squeezing, they sucked the air out of my lungs.Â I hadnâ€™t known.Â And the last five years had not made it any easier to hear the news.
The silence on the phone is heavy as Mama Rose waited for my reply.Â “Oh, that’s nice,” I said, but the words sound strained and insincere.
“The family is throwing an engagement celebration for them in four weeks.Â I want to give you lots of notice so that the children and you can be there.Â The wedding will be in nine months.”
“Mama Rose,” I started, resigning myself to her disappointment.
Sensing my imminent refusal, she interrupted.Â “I will need your help on that day, of course, cooking and such.Â “I think it would be good ifâ€””
Now I interrupted more forcibly.Â “Mama Rose, you know I probably won’t be invited.Â I didn’t even know about the engagement until now.”
“Nonsense,” she huffed.Â “Tiresa is your blood sister, albeit half blood, but blood all the same.Â And even if you weren’t blood, family is family,” she finishes as I mouthed her last words silently in unison.Â I’d heard it all before.
“Tell that to Tiresa,” I spat.Â “She still hasn’t visited Pa since he was first hospitalized with cancerâ€”and that was two years ago.Â He once was her family, too, you know.”
Tiresa hadn’t visited Pa for years, another bone of contention between us.Â When Ma and Pa got together, he promised he would love and support her Tiresa as his own.Â And he would have.
Although the family had reservations about Ma marrying outside the Samoan culture, Mac had been the best thing for her and Tiresa.Â They were happy and he was a good man.Â The family had been wrong to separate us after Ma died.Â They would have taken both of us, but Mac was adamant.Â He fought tooth and nail to keep us.Â It was quite the battle: fiery Scottish hotheadedness met generations of Pacifica island tradition.Â In the end, Mac lost the battle.Â He had no formal rights to Tiresa.
It’s been twenty-two years since Tiresa was taken from him, yet he never forgot his promise and obstinately waits for her return.Â Yet Tiresa ignores him despite his failing health.Â She won’t acknowledge him as the doting, loving father he was and still is.Â If she would just give him a chance, she would see that.
“Well, I know nothing about that,” Mama Rose excused, and then skillfully turned the conversation back to her agenda.Â “But it would be ridiculous if you weren’t there.Â Your sister will need you.Â Anyhow, you ARE invited because I’m inviting you.â€
I exhaled, exasperated.Â “Mama Rose, I can’t promise.Â I’ll see how things go. Okay?”