The last time I was with my mother in a family outing and reunion was when we visited the popular Dinosaurs’ Island in Clark, Mabalacat, Pampanga. Photo shows my mom (in a wheelchair) with me behind her and members of my family. (Left to right: my elder sister, Ate Connie; my two apos, Keiko and Hideyoshi; my daughter Karin Ceara; my nephew’s wife Jocelyn or Joyce; my nephew, San Fernando assistant prosecutor José Teodoro Leonardo Santos; and my wife, Heidi. Not in the photo is my son-in-law Ric Sakai III, who was probably playing with the big Tyrannosaurus Rex we chanced upon in a secluded part of the park). (Photo courtesy of Ceara San)
A mother’s hug lasts long after she lets go.
MY mother died last Tuesday at noon. She was 91.
Her death gave me an ambivalent feeling of sadness, bereavement and a spark of acceptance and satisfaction. I felt satisfied because I believe her death was somehow God’s way of answering my prayer.
In the past years that my mom was alive, her disposition had slowly deteriorated—not her health, mind you, nor her personality. She had always been a high-tempered woman and as such, she never bowed down to anyone or anything contradicting her beliefs.
As it happened (and perhaps she was already saddled with dementia and Alzheimer’s), my mom eventually became cranky and with my elder sister, who’s now at the ripe favorite age of 69, getting crankier, too, they sooner became at loggerheads with each other and their bickering never ceased.
This is why I prayed to the Good Lord: Please, help us find a way to settle their differences.
And God did . . .
It’s funny to feel a wee bit satisfied with how my mom expired. Apart from those old women who needed to be hospitalized due to old age and recurring ailments brought about by aging, Mama Terry (her full name is Teresita Pacheco Graham) fell asleep while sitting on her favorite chair. My sister tried to wake her up to ask what she wanted to eat for lunch, but she did reply and this was how it was found that my mom was no longer breathing.
For most of us, I’m sure, this is the best way to go—“in your sleep”—surprising everyone that you’re already gone.
My grandma and grandpa, too, died this way. My Lola Epang (Josefa Dela Cerna Cabrera) on her birthday June 13, in the year I can’t remember, and my Lolo Naning (Cipriano Andaya Cabrera, Sr.) on a date I cannot fathom how I forgot.
In an earlier edition of this column, I had mentioned Lolo Naning as my father. The truth is, he became my dad, and so with my grandma becoming my mom, after they adopted both me and my sister as adopted children. Hence, I carry the family name Cabrera and so does my sister, Consuelo, who is now Consuelo Cabrera-Santos after she got hitched to my nephew’s Kapampangan father.
If there’s one thing you will notice among the females of my family, my lola, my mom and my sister and even my nephew’s wife, Jocelyn or Joyce, are all hard working women. They’re simply ready “to serve and protect’ us like true mothers and females of the tribe are expected.
But let’s get back to my mom, to whom I am paying this tribute.
During her younger days, my mother was a vibrant lady and I remember the times she would come home from Olongapo to bring us the goodies—bags of chocolates, like Butterfinger and Kisses, and assorted candies she bought from the PX store near the former U.S. Naval Base.
Years after this, when I was already a spritely young kid with the gift of vocals, they say, I visited Olongapo City, to play with the bands and rock to the music as an aspiring crooner. That didn’t last, though, because going back to Manila, I got myself into earning money for my keep while doing ‘odds and ends’ as a laidback master of several trades and skills.
I also owe my voracious reading habits from my mom. At one time she gave me a number of western pocketbooks, which I later read and got addicted to. I recall one of them entitled ‘Alias Dix Ryder’, which was about this gun slinging dude who saved the damsel in distress. This story I even retold (in Pilipino) to my grandma, Lola Epang.
And during the time my mother would fetch me from my school in Mendiola, I remember the bag of peanuts she always bought for me while riding the JD Transit on the way home to Pasay, as well as the numerous comic books and toys. I understand those comics she bought for P5.00 each would now fetch thousands of pesos as they were the original copies of the now popular superhero reading material that DC and Marvel dishes out in selected stores.
And we would also watch movies, my mom and I, and also partake of merienda at the now long gone A&W Restaurant in Ermita or else another eatery in Santa Cruz which I remember was somewhere in the area along Carriedo Street.
These are the things I miss because my mom and I had many adventures. But now that she’s gone, the adventures may have ceased but her memory will linger on.
Goodbye, mom . . . See you soon in heaven. (AI/MTVN)