“Hindi natatapos ang pagka-ina,” my mother often likes to say. And every mother knows this.
My mom was an ever-present figure in my life, until perhaps my early 40s. She was there at the birth of each of my three children, and shared in the heartbreak of the loss of one. I learned resilience from my mother through her example of raising us all by herself.
She was only 49 when dad died; although it took a while, but when she got her bearings back, it was full speed ahead. We never wanted for anything while growing up; dad left us with enough and my mother invested it well. She also had a career that flourished even more after dad died. That, I believe, was God’s gift to her in her deepest moment of grief.
Larger than life
After dad passed away, mom became even more present in our lives. During major school activities, we never felt the lack of a father, perhaps because mom was always larger than life. I had an excellent role model for strength, resilience, perseverance and courage. Mom lived and breathed each of those virtues.
She was also the original hipster momma—unconventional and ahead of her time. Where other mothers would look so poised, chic and put together, there was my mother in her walking shorts or jeans and running shoes.
“Mahirap nang madapa, sinong magda-drive sa inyo sa school,” she would say. To this day, she keeps her hair long. Those tresses are either tied neatly in a bun or kept free, flowing a little past her shoulders. “Hanapbuhay ko iyan, huwag niyong pakialaman. Hindi na ako makikilala pag pinutol ko iyan,” she says.
Although my mom is fierce when you cross her, her love is also deep and endless. Generous to a fault, she likes to spoil loved ones and close friends with acts of service, gifts or tokens. Sometimes people would take advantage of her kindness and, when we call her attention to this, she would often just shrug it off with “Hayaan niyo na, bahala na si Lord sa kaniya.”
Surrendering the most difficult of circumstances to God is something that she taught us well. “God always provides” has been her life-long mantra.
Mom is the quintessential independent woman. She would drive herself to work from the 1980s till the mid-’90s. A familiar figure in the Greenhills Shopping Center, she often strolls and dines by herself at a favorite café or restaurant. As she puts it, “May libro naman akong laging kasama.”
Her only fear, though, is travel by air; in the ’90s, when I was working for an airline, my great frustration was that she would not share in my joy of flight. “Di sana kung sa Sulpicio ka na lang nagtrabaho,” she would often say with a wry smile.
Lately she’s been taking it easy on her career. “Enjoy pa ako sa vacation ko,” she often tells friends and former colleagues in show biz. She continues to check on me and my children. To me, it’s “Anong chismis mo?” To my children it’s “May boyfriend (or girlfriend) ka na ba?” or “What’s new?”
She also loves to make commentaries on politics and the military or the latest show-biz headlines. In spite of her age, she remains feisty, and, yes, by God’s grace, sprightly.
Cycle of life
In each adult child’s life, there will come a time when we begin to mother or father our mothers and fathers. Such is the cycle of life. The other day I took pause and realized that time is so swift, and the reality is that, without sounding morbid, I will probably have my mother for only a few decades more.
“Hoy, I will live to a hundred!” she would often protest. She probably will, if she had her way. She’s been through so much in life, and has weathered trials with amazing grit and grace.
The drama she acts out on TV and film is nothing compared to the real story that has unfolded in our lives as a family. But Momma is a great comedienne, too. Her timing is impeccable. And in life, just as in art, her wit and humor are often what have seen us through all.
We love you, Mom! Thank you for everything! Happy Mother’s Day!
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