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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Forty days

It has been awhile again since I updated my blog. Many events have taken place, and many things have changed. It is now 40 days since my mom left us, and joined Papang and Our Creator last January 3. She was laid to rest last January 9, and I just want to share my eulogy which I delivered during the last minutes we were with her:

My Survivor Mom!

Last November 16, I made a blog entry in my online photography album, entitled Survivor Mom. There was no special occasion. I just felt it was high time to pay her a tribute.

I never thought that the tribute I made would turn out to be a eulogy instead. Nonetheless, I am here infront of you to share my personal tribute, which is now our tribute—to share the important lessons from Mommy.

1. Mommy will always be a Mommy to us! She gave birth and raised 7 of us to become the persons we are now—as professionals and successful in our respective careers—but more importantly, to be God-fearing and just be good persons. One can never imagine how she shuffled between her teaching career and a housekeeper, and between being a loving mother to us and wife to Papang, a sister to her kins and an adorable auntie.

From her, springs a lifelong learning of doing something that comes from the heart—of showing love and care for each other, of looking after each other’s welfare, and of making sure that we make each other, and other people comfortable in or outside our home.

2. Next to being a mother, she was a dedicated educator.

For more than 40 years, she was committed to her vocation—despite the hardships and challenges of teaching in a public school. As such, she was a witness to hundreds or even thousands of young minds being moulded into becoming more productive persons. In all these years, she never complained about the hardships. Rather, she steadfastly and patiently fulfilled her vocation, lived it, and dutifully performed the role of a second mother to her pupils.

3. She was a doting grandmother to her 12 grandchildren, and all her other grandchildren who were put under her care. Together with the late Papang, she loved playing the role of doting Mamang, as surrogate mother at all times, and their attorney-in-fact who was always ready to stand up defending against their tyrant parents when her grandchildren needed some protection and comforting.

They simply love her for that! Of course! Who would not like being defended by Atty. Mamang Paring?

4. As a grandmother, she would always find time to be updated on what is happening to them, and if they were well taken cared of. Last Christmas, while lying in bed and was so weak to cook, she was still concerned if her apos, nephews and nieces had food to eat. She did not stop bugging us until we assured that everything is settled and that she had nothing to worry about.

5. For that, I would say that she is the best cook/ chef I have known all my life. Mommy is synonymous to food. If one needs some feeding, just go to our home and you will surely burp to your satisfaction. We can say that we inherited her cooking skills. She had no secret recipe to keep, but one important cooking lesson that we learned from her is that everything is just gut feel—something that comes from the heart—one that nurtures and not the one that only satisfies your physical body.

6. She is the Auntie for all seasons—our cousins branded her as "Auntie Singsingpet". I have witnessed how she showered our cousins with a motherly love and affection that sometimes makes us jealous.

7. Long before the word caregiver was a buzz word, she already was a caregiver: She took care of Inang Baket for 5 years, Auntie Aurea, Aunite Pajing, Uncle Tinoy, Papang for 7 long years, and us when we get sick. She did all these without expecting anything in return. All these she did because of her boundless and limitless love. Again, she gave us a very important lesson—the virtue of paying it forward.

In 2004, she was diagnosed with a stage 2 breast cancer. In gratitude, we did our best to give back the fruits of what she has sown in 80 years of her life. In the end, our love and care, her positive view about life, and the love for her grandchildren fueled her more to continue cherishing life! For her, having a cancer is not the end of world! It was a celebration of life!

8. Mommy is one great cheer leader—an animator, and a source of great inspiration. In our studies and in our professional life, she wrote us long letters, giving us the encouragement to bring home the bacon. When she was in the US, she never failed to send us--the old-fashioned way--birthday and Christmas cards. Although old-fashioned, she marveled at the internet! Before she went home from the US, she would always egg on Ating Edna when she goes home from work to turn on her laptop so we can chat for more than one hour through the internet. Whatever mean of communication, she never failed to remind us to be strong and pray hard amidst the difficulties we face in life. We would certainly miss those endearing words.

9. Mommy is an enigma. We are in the belief that she would survive the strange illness she had. We thought she will be okay after all. She had the best medical treatment and specialists in one of the best hospitals in the Philippines and in the US. I believe she had the best care she got from us, her children. But all the best things that the world can offer have their end after all. As I write this eulogy, I realize there is more than the best in this earthly existence. Now, she is in the BESTEST place—in the hands of God—that we could not offer.

There are still many WHY’s—burning questions that are left unanswered. Only time will tell how and why she had to leave us. Her death may seem to be a puzzle to all of us. However, slowly, each day, and true to her nature as a caring mother and teacher, she helped us unravel, and put the pieces together, and understand and accept her departure.

Just like her very nature, she made sure that, we, her children, would not suffer anymore from the agony of expecting death. She went away fast, and unannounced, but I believe that she is making sure the acceptance is also fast. Up to this day, she offers bits and pieces of information that make us realize she lived a fruitful life. Indeed, she deserved the nickname Mamang Fruits. (Of course there is another story why she is being called Fruits.).

10. One very important lesson from Mommy is her being a very prayerful person. She had a very strong relationship with God. In her journey through life, she always asked God for intercession. When I was a small child, when life was hard, she always took refuge and guidance from Mama Mary. She was a devotee of the Mother of Perpetual Help, and always prayed the Holy Rosary. On her flight back to Manila, she was praying the Rosary. Whenever she was in pain and in sorrow, she never complained. Rather she lifted them up to God and she would always utter, “Kaasian na kami Apo” (Lord have Mercy). And I would like to believe that at the time of her last breath, she was still saying her last prayers.

Mommy likes to travel. When she travels, she makes sure everything was prepared—baon na pagkain, water, candies, and anything that fills our stomach. On the spiritual side, she always brought her small prayer travel companion—a small book of prayers. In her journeys here and abroad, God is always her refuge and travel guide.

Mommy is a very secretive woman. She did not tell us her pains or how painful they are. However, when it comes to showing his love and affection, there is nothing spectacular or unusually different act. You could not tell if there is something special on a particular day because it was just her nature to freely express her affection. In short, it was normal if you get a token or a gift from her or if she feeds you in our home, or as simple as “Kumusta kan anak ko?”

True to her secretive nature, and unlike her previous travels, Mommy kept her last journey a secret. However, while we are unaware that she prepared for her last journey, we later realized she made sure that everyone and everything were okay.

On the third night of the wake, I was so bored, so I was drawn to read her small prayer book. I am still puzzled but I was surprised with my discovery. I thought, ang ingat naman ni Mommy kasi wala man lang lukot ang mga pages. Pero nagulat na lang ako na may isang page na nakatiklop ang corner. It was rather odd. So I became curious and read the page content. I was even more shocked when the content of the page, says:

Psalm 84

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul yearns and pines
For the courts of the Lord.
My heart and my flesh
Cry out for the living God
Even the sparrow finds a home,
And the swallow a nest
In which she puts her young
Your altars o Lord of hosts.
My King and my God!

Mommy has completed her last journey. She is gone. We could not hug and kiss her anymore. But what consoles us is that we believe she is finally home with her Creator.

We will miss her, but she will always live in our memories and beat in our hearts.

Goodbye Mamang!

7 people have commented. Leave your comments too!:

our deepest condolences, bro. didnt know...very sorry for your loss...losing a loved one is never easy... but yes, we are just assured by the thought that they are in a much better place with our Creator....

i'm sorry to hear that Ding. may she rest in peace.

hi uncle ding,
im in tears right now after reading what you've written here.. and i understand deeply how much you miss mamang.I miss her and papa. There are no consoling words that could possibly ease the pain. Its just too difficult to move on and live without them...but I know they are happy together. Im not worried for papa, i know they will be taking care of each other.

Yes, Jay-ann! I believe! God Bless!

'Kel Ding! May post ako dito kay Lola Paring

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