TOMORROW is Mother’s Day – an occasion sons and daughters all over the world must celebrate regardless of their color, race and religious belief.
So my dear readers please indulge me for a while. I am writing this piece as my way of giving tribute to a great woman who had given me life.
I must admit with all humility that I was not a perfect son to my mom, from my formative up to my adolescent years. I guess I gave her heartache more than love, bitterness more than compassion, hatred more than understanding.
I really never gave her a chance to like me in the same manner that I never gave myself the chance to like her.
I was seven years old when my father passed away in 1958 while working as a security guard in Manila. I could barely remember his face; he was always away during my formative years.
He left nothing to my mom. It was only our eldest brother and sister, Hernan and Merlyn, respectively, who attended his funeral. As much as my mother wanted to join the two, she could not due to financial inadequacy.
But my mother, widowed in her reproductive years, was able to raise us up nine siblings. It took me long years to really fathom how Nanay was able to make difficult sacrifices for us. She did all sorts of odd jobs just to keep us afloat and away from hunger in Mambuloc, oddly known then as “Little Tondo” in Bacolod city.
Early in my married life I stayed most of the time in Manila earning a living to support my family of four. It was between these periods in the early ‘90s when mother started to show signs of odd behavior.
At first I thought she was intentionally doing it as her way of getting even at us. I would reprimand her for committing habitual acts of misbehavior.
She had this peculiarity: hiding soaps and sometimes utensils. At some point all of us in the house thought some rats or stray cats spirited them away.
Until one day by accident a household member was able to locate all the “stolen” stuff under the kitchen sink. I blew my top, blaming mother. Dementia or Alzheimer sounded foreign to me then.
One day a psychiatrist family friend paid us a visit in Peñafrancia, Antipolo City. We sought professional advice.
He gave us his assessment: our mom was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
He added: “Don’t expect your mom to adjust to you. On the contrary, do all your best to adjust to your mom.”
It was enough to knock me back to my senses. I was too harsh with mom.
During her remaining years before she joined our Creator at age 83, we had to endure more sacrifices as she deteriorated.
I feel obliged to remind our younger generation to love your mothers tenderly before it’s too late. Your mothers gave you life, expecting nothing in return but love.
Happy Mother’s Day, my dearest Nanay. Rest in peace. ([email protected]/PN)