HAPPY BIRTHDAY NANAY
Before she married my father, there was a condition.
No, it has nothing to do with diamonds. It was more precious in her estimation. She wanted to have her father brought into the household once they live as husband and wife.
Condition accepted without reservation.
On June 15, 1952 my father and mother walked the aisle. It was a very sacred ceremony which only two matured people can organize. Both of them were already gainfully employed; both of them potential supervisors in a government agency. And they had planned to be independent.
Both had experienced hardship; both were survivors of War. Despite the intermittent and fledging organization of schools, both struggled to complete their education. They knew that passing through the academe was already a passport to social mobility. They hoped, they both dreamed and finally, they both agreed and tried to prove their vision. And they were right.
Father had two jobs. Mother resigned and went full time at home. There were two kids to nurture and mother must bid her office goodbye to concentrate on kids and housekeeping. It was a bit emotional and at most, material, since mother’s salary was more than that of father’s, but the welfare of the kids took precedence over all others. Her father and younger brother would also be there to attend to her first born. Her father was formerly in the Navy and an artist, she wanted her first born to be fearless and creative too. And her younger brother would see to it that there would be no deviation.
At home, mother was our constant light. She was our story teller, drill master, referee, trainor. She was everything to us, her children. She was cook, laundry woman, cleaner, fixer, organizer, beautician, gardener, everything an ideal house maid could be. I never heard her voiced rose. She had her way of scolding us, or reminding us, of telling us what to do in a quiet way.
She never egged us on anything she likes. She taught us spirituality by showing us how she prays. She taught us scholarship by going over our notes and correcting it. She taught us courage by never complaining at all.
She was my father’s beacon and strength despite her frail body. She was always behind my father’s ideas and she was his strategist and effective counselor. Father was the aggressive and no-nonsense soldier, mother was his command post. Both were meant for each other. Mother was meant only for us, her precious jewel.
But unlike fairy tales, reality had tragic moments. Our family had this unfortunate episode and it was mother who bore the brunt.
It was a precarious time when danger lurked, when our house was invaded and she was the only one at home. She was under siege when her captors, her assailants wanted her to betray her loved ones but she never lifted a hand. Lawbreaking had a field day that fateful moment. She would rather give her life if only protect her family and its resources. She would die clutching the thought that her family is safe from marauding criminals.
She departed through the treachery of crime and she would leave her family ever vigilant. She proved that love can be expressed not only as a token stride to fulfill an expectation but also through extreme measures by offering her life in the altar of future stability.
I do not know how to send mother a gift on her birthdays, but her image will remain steadfast in our memories and her life constantly serves as our symbol of strength wherever we are. Suffice to say that she removed from our fate the pain and suffering we ought to taste and gave us that lasting smile that once upon a time, there was this courageous lady who loved and loved until her last breath.
Truly, every time her birthday comes, I am always reminded of her as poetry of devotion.