Mama was a widow at her early forties. I was only seven then and being an only child, I think I made the initiative to mature a little faster as Mama raised me single-handedly. I have seen how she has mastered multi-tasking and positivism even it was really hard. She was prayerful, warm-hearted and friendly. Her energy is so beautiful – enough to gain customers that turned into friends who brought few more customers. I grew up selling different kinds of what Filipinos call merienda – banana-que, turon, lumpia, kamote fries, kikiam, fish balls, squid balls, pancit Bato and the famous halo-halo. Mama was a sewer and beautician too. She has too much in her hands but never short of being a mother and friend to me at the same time.
When she sent me to her mother and sister’s care in Buhi, Camarines Sur, our love for each other deepened. We would exchange mails on ordinary days and special occasions. She would take me with her to our home in Quezon City during summer vacation and she would visit the province during my birthdays and Christmas too. That was our arrangement for three years during my primary school years. She took me back in when I was in 6th grade. That was the only time I asked her (without any regret) why she had to live alone. Her answer made me love her more. It was a sacrifice she bravely faced. Within those years, she has faced failure on her own – I was away to hug her and assure that it is okay and she can try again. Mama was suppose to work overseas (in Hong Kong) but it did not push through for many reasons even after her long wait. She was only able to work overseas when I was already in sophomore year in high school. Her sister who took care of me then came to live with me here in the metro. We were afar from each other for another three years. It was harder but the same years made our mother and daughter relationship stronger.
Our friendship became a hit when she arrived home, I was already in my first year in college. A number of my friends expressed their admiration of how sheis to me as a mother and best friend at the same time. She was even a confidant to some of my friends. Our relationship has evolved many times but it always end up better. Life trials – health-wise, finances, first heartache, college woes and part time job mishaps, made us love and support each other many notch higher. We have grown to respect and condone each other’s shortcomings. I can say that my failures and heartaches did not leave me deep scars because of her positive attitude towards life. She has showered me with great advises and has passed on me optimism, independence and sense of humor. This exactly is why my dedication to my daughters is a lot like hers, she is my role model after all.
Mama passed away two months after my younger daughter turned one. Our struggle during her sickness was not at all easy but her heart stopped beating right beside me with a smile in her lips. That was the most hurtful emotion I have felt but it seemed like I can not express it – I had to be stable and strong.
My elder daughter has a lot of memories and stories about Mama. She would normally tell stories to her sister, including the lessons she learned from her grandMama. Now that she is gone, as I watch my kids grow, I have come to discover what she would tell me when I was being stubborn during my younger years — that I will know the feeling when I become a mother myself. True enough, it is difficult for a mother to let go or just let loose the invisible string our children are attached to our heart. Letting go is definitely a hard phase to go through. But I am sure that Mama’s most important though challenging role (her favorite) is being a grandmother. She once told me that my daughters are like my substitute – she instantly became a new mother again. She enjoyed learning new things as she face that new role in this generation. The fact the we were hand-in-hand in both our roles made it more valuable and happier. If we can call and talk to her now in heaven, she would happily express that she would not trade that for any other role. We may have let go of her presence but she is in our hearts forever. My daughters brought so much unexplained joy in our life and I am so glad that Mama experienced that too. It is her birth anniversary today, so, we are sending her our love and many thank yous.