I wish we could be spending Mother’s Day together with you and my two sisters having afternoon tea at a fancy place in Oakville, but we continue our physical distancing act being exactly halfway around the world from each other, something we have been quite used to for 20 years.
When I decided to move to a faraway land, the Philippines, all by myself back in my late 20s, you were the first to resist the idea, but also the first to support me. You have been my career cheerleader and defender since then. I’d like to think I inherited some of your determination, resolve, strength and deep faith.
I am grateful for our long video calls almost twice a week where we continue to talk about major life decisions, postpandemic travel plans and the latest royal family updates. I know that this lockdown has wasted one year of what could have been more travels for you and Dad. But I am so grateful that you are well, comfortable and protected at home.
The last time we saw each other, Mommy, was in March 2020. You and Dad did your annual flight to Manila in January, the same day Taal Volcano erupted. Your plane was delayed in Taiwan and was diverted to land in Clark. It was a one-of-a-kind incident, clouded in both excitement and worry, that two senior citizens who worked in aviation had never experienced before. We thought that was the extraordinary event of 2020, but we were wrong.
Then you had a trip to the Holy Land in February that was almost canceled because of active conflict in the Middle East. You were adamant about going despite the security and health threats. You always believed that God’s will prevails and we only must trust completely.
So off you went with Dad on the trip you’ve always dreamed about. We would monitor your journey through Jordan, Israel and Egypt. Then on the first week of March while you were in Bethlehem, you told us that the first COVID-19 case was identified near your hotel and that you had to flee to Egypt a day earlier.
Before the world shut down, you were able to walk the path that Jesus walked on earth and ride a camel near the pyramids of Giza with Dad, who is 79, and you being 76. You made it back to Manila in early March, where we all agreed to stay isolated and distanced for at least two weeks.
I thought you still had three weeks with us. But the borders started to shut down, and in a matter of hours, we got you and Dad a flight back to your home, Toronto. I didn’t get to hug you or kiss you. I hand-sewed face shields out of plastic book wrap. I wanted you protected on your 36-hour trip home.
We are among of the lucky few who can still tell these stories of adventure and travel during the time of the pandemic. Based on what I learned from you, luck had very little to do with this. It was all God’s grace that saw you through a real exodus, which as God’s will would have it was not the only time you’ve gone through shutting borders and finding a home. But I will save our postrevolution and relocation story for another time.
Know that your strength, determination and spirit live strong in us, your children. And I look forward to the day I can freely hug and kiss you, Mom. Soon. In your garden with peonies and tulips. Happy Mother’s Day.