MY AUNTIE NATY
And I love her so.
Naty Berroya Caliguia must be in her late 80s already. She is the nearest maternal cousin of my father, also the closest. Her mind is still sharp and there is no ageing as far as her memory is concerned. She can still recall any minute incident in her life or that of her community. And why not? In her prime, she was once one of the smartest elementary teachers in the town of San Roque, San Pedro, Laguna.
My recollection of my auntie Naty has always been compelling. She was an angel during my juvenile years while I was spending precious moments of summer with my grandmother at my father’s hometown. And since my grandma was always out, Auntie Naty would find herself very generous in pouring attention to me. With my aunt around, I could feel a sense of importance and yes, in her eyes, and I could reckon it in my fledging thoughts, that I was a celebrity! She and her family would treat us that way, and always.
How I wish to see her up close and hug her even at this time when this nephew of her looks more like one of her senior citizen peer already. I just wanted to project to her how I deeply respect her for giving me a significant period to appreciate myself and in the process attain a certain degree of success in life. Without her coaxing, without her simple pampering, I would have been one of the inferior beings that have populated a sagging organization, assuming that I get employed in the process. She gave me that sense of superiority, poise for something great although at that time, I was merely an appendage of a famous parent.
She has been that indulging and cajoling elder person, always vigilant and fretful. She was not only a sympathetic sister to my father but a mother superior to me whenever I am on vacation in their province. She would empty her purse just so she could give me something valuable. Along with her aunt, Lola Pepay, they would backstop their enterprise just so I would have some cash in my pocket. At that time, it was my father who was more intrigued on the amount I had accumulated. At that time, I cared less about money and it went on even in my adulthood up to my senior years.
I have learned generosity from her. I have learned also the value of kindness, thoughtfulness and vigilance directly from how she attended to me and my father.
There is likewise the virtue of selflessness which I learned from her lap that I projected which I would attribute my ascension to a higher responsible position in any organization I would join. Indirectly, she had taught me leadership principles which John Maxwell has not determined yet during the 60s.
I will not wait until the fog of old age would visit her or me and dim her appreciation of her surroundings before I could share to her and to the world how grateful I am for the generous attention she poured on us. It is never wasted. As a matter of fact, I have perpetuated it in my arts and the genes I passed on the succeeding generation. I am sure that my children and their children would be like her—selfless, generous and kind too.