Let us honor our mothers beyond remembrance. And one of the best way is to put into practice their endless prognostications.
Even after they have long gone, their “commandments” survive the test of time.
Since it will soon be Mother’s Day, here is how I remember Nena Rastrollo Quirino.
It is no secret that Mom was a beautiful woman. Her Castillan provenance was strikingly evident in her finely chiseled face, creamy vanilla complexion and ebony eyes.
As early as when I was five years old, she turned her weekly Saturday regimens into my first lessons on Beauty 101.
1. Hide from the sun. If there was more than a thousand ways to shield yourself from the sun, she tried them all. And this includes all the paraphernalia—sunscreens, shades, hats, umbrellas, and let’s not forget the largest beach towel for a cover-up.
2. Be mindful of the forbidden hours. Those frightful sunniest hours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. were taboo, especially to the girls in the family. Despite my protestations at not being allowed to play with my brothers by the beach, I remained grounded indoors until it was safe by her standards. “One day when you are older, you will thank me for this, hija.”
3. Clean face. It was imperative to go to bed completely washed and cleaned up—especially your face. To this day, the fragrance of Pond’s cold cream clings to my scent memory of her.
4. Skin lightening. Once a month, her beautician would do a home-bleaching service with mild peroxide and soap chips. To enhance the whitening mixture, she added lemons and egg white. The sight of her completely covered in white fluff brings to mind a sexy snow queen. For 45 minutes she remained immobile, like a white statue.
5. Yoga. Her favorite form of exercise. Every day, without fail, she would work on her poses religiously. No wonder she remained svelte throughout her life and way into her 70s.
6. Eat well. She never dieted. Blessed with tremendous metabolism, never was she fat. Instead, she ate enough to feel satisfied but never to the point of satiety.
7. Cooking and baking as therapy. She was always in the kitchen, because she loved to cook. Her hearty homemade soups and molasses cookies were family favorites.
8. Group hobbies. Weekly budge and mahjong sessions were a source of bonding with friends. One could hear the bursts of laughter reverberate throughout the study.
9. Vary your exercise. In between yoga, there was bowling once a week. What once was a hobby became a competitive neighborhood sport.
The music never stopped
10. Dance till you drop. There were weekly socials at our residence. The dance music never stopped because my Dad, Tommy Quirino, was an excellent dancer who actually taught Mom how to dance. And it explains how, at the age of eight, I already knew how to do the cha-cha.
11. Sleep as much as you can. She enjoyed sleeping—a lot. In fact, nine hours was her comfortable sleep level.
12. Coffee. Her favorite beverage. In fact, even before drinking water upon waking up, Mom needed her caffeine.
13. Crossword puzzles. A word addict, every day, she would have to complete the newspaper’s crossword puzzles, no matter how long it takes.
14. Go to church on Sundays. Not one family member could escape Mass on Sundays. Prayer and worship on Sundays became a family tradition.
15. Sunday fiesta. More than a day of rest, Sundays were family open house celebrations. The dining table was always filled with home-cooked specialties, and family reunions were plentiful.
16. Smile, don’t cry. Armed with a perennial smile, her constant advice was simple—“the best antidote for sadness is a smile.”
17. Look your best. Never leave the house without looking and smelling good. Wear your lipstick and spray on some fragrance.
Even if, later on, she developed bad habits along the way, like smoking and drinking, she attempted in her latter years to undo them. But by the time she chose to take transformative charge over her life, it was late in the day but not too late to extend her life beyond the four-month deadline set by her oncologist. After embracing a strict wellness lifestyle, she beat stage 4 lung cancer by four years.
It is true. Life is a circle. You return to your beginnings, as evidenced in Mom’s life. Her teachings remain true as they are timeless: Endless hours under the sun will damage your skin and speed up aging. Cleanliness keeps your skin healthy. Exercise boosts the immune system and sharpens your mind. Daily crossword puzzles give your brain a workout. Sublimating any negative thoughts through a hobby is the best of therapies. Smiling constantly banishes sadness. Sleep is the best anti-aging treatment. Being spiritually connected keeps you rooted. By knowing your inner strength, you grow stronger. Celebrate your life—love, dance and laugh.
Thank you , Mom! And Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms in the world.
Today’s affirmation: “I celebrate my life.”
Love and light!