My mother was a lioness. In many ways she still is. The fierceness of her love remains as strong as it was when I first came to know it, more than half a century ago.
Mom is still as healthy as a horse, and still pretty nimble and quick on her feet on most days. Her energy, especially in the early evening until past midnight (yes, you read that right) would put mine to shame (in defense, I’m a morning person). “Artista ako, eh. Sanay ako magpuyat,” she likes to stress whenever I remind her to sleep early.
Mom still loves to engage others in conversation, and finds great pleasure in looking back on memories from 20, 30, 40 years ago. When the mood is right, she will regale you with endless stories. When friends visit, she always likes to ask, “Anong balita?”
There are moments now when the memory falters, and the questions repeat themselves. And each time that happens, we patiently respond like it’s the first time she’s asking.
The wit is still sharp and quick, perhaps even more so now that she is at a stage in life, where the filters have disappeared. I suppose, at her age, she has earned the right to say what she wants, whenever she wants to say it. Occasionally it has gotten us into embarrassing situations in public, but mom being mom is always quick to smooth down ruffled feathers with her caring and endearing ways.
I have become my mother’s protector. I am determined to let no harm come to her, to let no one take advantage of her, with the same fierceness that she once upon a time protected us with.
There are many aspects about her now that I miss. Whenever this happens, I draw from my well, and then retreat and find ways to mother myself. And then I am whole again.
I’m at a stage in life now where my nest is almost empty, which allows me to spend more time with mom, whose joy in life is making paseo to her beloved Greenhills, watching movies, eating out and telling stories. Now and then, she will ask to explore a new place, “para maiba naman.”
My children may no longer need me as much as they did a decade or so ago, but now there is mom, to whom I can devote more time and attention.
Sitting between an elderly parent and adult children requires that one take excellent care of oneself in mind, body and spirit. The requirements of loving and caring for two generations are different, and can sometimes take a toll on one’s emotions.
One cannot draw from an empty well. It is of utmost importance to refuel and refill the emotional tank so that you will always have something to give to others, and to yourself.
I know it is a precious gift to still have my mother around—a gift that I thank the Lord for each and every day. It is a grace that mom, who is now at the halfway point of her eighth decade, continues to be hale, happy and physically healthy.
When you have a parent over 80 years old, each day, each month, each year, is truly a gift. It also brings home the realization that I am now loving her on borrowed time. How much longer? How many more years? Only God knows. I’m determined to make the most of the time I have left with her to keep her happy, to fill her days with laughter, stories, and joy, and to assure her of my love.
In time, the physical body will turn frail with each year that passes, the mind will no longer be as sharp, and at some point, the memory will dim. The only thing I am certain of is that the heart knows and will never forget, because a mother’s love for her child is boundless and transcends all.