Last month was my mom’s 5th death anniversary. I still think of her all the time. She’s a remarkable woman, and many times I ask myself if I am living in a way that she would want me to live. She’s like a compass that always points me to my true north. This is a great loss that still aches so much whenever I think about her.
My mom had a rough childhood. Actually, “rough” would be an understatement. But her childhood was like a refining fire that made her better, not worse. She and papa were determined to be good, God-fearing parents. I take after part of my mom’s temperament. I was melancholic, always kept to myself, and had trouble making friends because I was painfully shy and was perfectly happy by myself. She made an effort to make good friends, though. I remember when I was young, she made it a point to ask me how I was doing at school and if I made any friends. She told me that being an only child, we didn’t have aunts and uncles from her side of the family. She asked God to give her good friends who will also love her children. Good relationships are from Him too, she said.
She and papa started out with very little. This was the house where we grew up. It’s a cluster of old homes in E. Pascua St., a jumble of old, patched up wood and rusty roofing materials. We were poor, but my parents did gave their best effort for us. We would eventually move out of this neighborhood to a better one, but I would always carry in my heart our humble beginnings and how my parents taught us to live with integrity and a healthy sense of self-worth.
My mother also showed me by example that women can be strong and successful. During my teenage years, I remember her telling me that if I decide to get married, I should choose a man who isn’t intellectually insecure. I always kept that in mind. I saw how my father was always so supportive of her and gentle in his ways, and I married a man who is the same towards me. 🙂
I also saw how my mother treated everybody the same. She treated their office janitor with the same dignity that she gave the company CEO. Ayaw ni mama sa matapobre.
She was a voracious reader, and she encouraged this habit in us too. She’s the original Serial Doodler. 🙂 She was always writing, writing, writing. When she passed away, I gathered all of her journals and kept them in a drawer so I can read them later and hear her voice again inside my mind. I am thankful that she kept journals because her thoughts are precious to me.
It’s the fifth year without her. Though the grief has faded into a dull throb, I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever get to that point when it won’t hurt anymore. Maybe someday I’ll find out.