James Parise Mama-San There is someone in this world and in your life that fills that certain spot in your heart, that spot that would otherwise be a Coke bottle with water in it...disappointing. Well the Coke in my bottle was Mama-San. If there was ever one thing that mattered to Mama, one thing that she would want passed down upon me, it was hard work and providing for my family. This is a story of Mama-San, the most caring, loving, and hard working woman I have ever known. I'm writing this not only for myself, but for you, the reader. I want you to realize what matters in life. I want you to find that full strawberry in your vanilla yogurt. Just for a second, clear your mind of the fact that she let herself go downhill over the years with her obsession with psilocybian mushrooms, opium, and alcohol. Floating back 80 years, you would see a young Mama-San working in the rice fields of Lianyungang China. Her Father Ping was far from wealthy. He worked at the local fish market (which on Thursdays was a smash hit with locals) and in his spare time would read books and manuals about automobiles. At the age of 22, Ping married Pong, a hard working house wife with strict beliefs. She gave San a broad education even though it was forbidden in their country at the time. She always kept the house in amazing shape and never missed preparing a family meal. Mama-San worked in those fields to help support her family. She never asked why she was there..she just knew. Years later when San was a woman, she married Atari and things were going terrific. They got themselves a wonderful home, had 5 children, and were financially stable. That is until he suffered a tragic death from Ecoli. San was then forced into an unsuspected bind..she had mouths to feed and needed to keep a roof over their head. It was hard for a woman to find work in their village. She ended up working in a brothel to get by. Some times she would come home to her children with a black eye or cuts. San always did her best to hide this, as she didn't want her children to worry. She never asked God why she was having to sell herself. She just knew she had to do what was required to raise her family. Around 10 years later, Ping finally had a break through. He had plans for a rice hauling truck and saved up enough money to buy the materials for it. Ping worked day and night to get that truck completed. When the he rested his eyes upon the final product, his face resembled that of a homeless man finding a diamond. Ping brought the plans and the truck to an automobile factory a few villages away. They loved his work and hired him to lead the production of these vehicles. He called his new line of vehicles Raven Motors. Now he was wealthy, and he no longer needed to work at the fish market that he had dreaded going to day after day. San no longer needed to work the corners to provide for her loved ones. After that day, things went uphill for San, probably for the first time in her life. So how do I know all of this? Why do I know about her life? Where did I get all of this information? The answer to those questions lies behind those wonderful Formica doors at a Minnesota AA meeting in 2002. My cousin was always fighting the battle against alcohol addiction. One day he called me up and wondered if I could attend as his guest at the meeting. He said he had to bring a role model that he was looking up to. Unfortunately the meeting was going to be held on Friday March 24th at 11:00 AM. This was the beginning of the Ernest Movie Marathon on TV. I had been waiting for this day for the past 7 months, but I knew how much this meeting meant to my cousin, so I followed my better judgment and went with him. We walked through those amazing doors and sat down at the round tables. I usually try to avoid being near old people because they more often than not have a repulsive smell. Well, there were no other seats open except the one by an old oriental woman. I took a seat. After visiting with her for an hour or so, I realized how much she changed my outlook on life. She must have enjoyed my presence because she was laughing, smiling, and seemed quite amused. We exchanged phone numbers (get your mind out of the gutter, there is nothing intimate or sexual in this, I already had a wonderful girlfriend for nearly 3 years now). Over the next few years, Mama-San and I always talked with each other about life, family, beliefs, and our struggles. I never met someone who was able to comfort me when I was so confused. She was like those Icy-Hot back pouches they advertise on infomercials. With her encouraging words I built the confidence to ask my wonderful girlfriend to marry me in October of 2006. The wedding was beautiful and Mama-San sat up in the front row along with my family. I never saw her look so happy in my life. Her deep brown eyes just seemed to glow and glisten when I looked at her. Three months ago Mama-San asked me to fly out to her village with her so she could show me her ways of life since she had seen what it was like for me to grow up. Of course there was no way I could pass this chance up. We packed our bags and flew first class. The plane was awesome and my looks must have been going for me because the airline attendant gave me an extra bag of peanuts. We landed and the first thing I remember was how different it seemed compared to the United States. No, not worse, just different. She took me to her old house that she grew up in and we walked down the road towards the now closed fish market that her father used to work at. I was having the time of my life. Tears formed at the edges of my eyes and I had that weird feeling in my throat that appears when you try to hold tears of joy. We were crossing the road to go visit the restaurant that she met her husband at long ago when she must have had a flashback from her mushroom abuse. I've seen her have flashbacks before. Basically, she will see things and hear things that aren't there as if she was still using those shrooms. I believe she thought there was a coin on the road because she kept swiping her hand at the ground as if she was picking something up. I turned around because my wife was asking what she was doing. Suddenly a truck came down the road at an extremely high speed and before I could turn my head around to see where it was going, I heard the most disgusting noise in my life. There is no way to fully describe the way I felt as the thought of what happened sunk into my mind. A cold wave of sickness ran through me from head to toe. The truck rolled and crashed into a building. I ran over to Mama, knelt over her, and just cried. What else could I do? What was left of my best friend was lying in the middle of a road and there was a half-destroyed truck 80 feet away. The driver ran off and I later found out that he was a disgruntled employee. I walked over to the massive chunk of twisted metal that lay near a brick building. The grill of the truck was lying near my feet, I kicked it and it rolled a couple of times and came to rest a few feet away. I read the name that was printed on the front...Raven Motors.