A letter to my father on Mother's Day
() - May 13, 2012 - 12:00am

Somehow I know you’ll get to read my letter, Papang. It’s been two years, three months and 25 days since your peaceful crossover. Nothing has changed. I still see you in my dreams. I still think about you with loving thoughts.

I’m writing you to report about the things your loving wife has been doing since you’ve been gone. We used to secretly yet lovingly talk about Nanay — her strengths and weaknesses, even her funny follies. If your hammock and the boughs and leaves of our robust himbaba-o tree in the backyard could only talk, they would surely squeal everything we had said about her.

There’s spring in her every step now. She moves with so much ease, except of course, when she’s low-bat, her own term when she suddenly feels weak when her sugar level becomes lower than the normal. But your wife is not easily cowed by her infirmity. She has befriended her diabetes that singlehandedly she can manage to inject herself with insulin every morning before breakfast and every night before dinner. She religiously takes medication for her heart problem but all the more that she religiously prays to God to make her well. Her will is fortified. Her conviction is made up of titanium that her moral mantle never breaks.

Two weekends ago, I “caught” her putting more than the usual serving of rice on her plate. I gently reminded her about her carbo intake but she pleaded, “Hayaan mo na ako. Paminsan-minsan lang naman ako napapasarap mag-kanin.” When I was ready for a rebuttal, she was quick to inject: “At para saan pa yung gamot na iniinom ko at itinuturok ko? ‘Di ba para proteksyunan ako nito?” End of debate.

Papang, Nanay misses you every day. But she confides to me that she doesn’t cry anymore every night. Well, when she sees your favorite shirt and your karsunsilyo, she gets misty-eyed. Some two months ago, I saw your favorite clothes neatly folded on the bed, beside your portrait. When I asked for an explanation, she joked: “Baka sakaling maisipang umuwi ng Tatay mo. Mabuti nang handa ang damit nya kung sakaling umuwi siya na nasa palengke ako.” That’s the only time we both laughed and cried again.

She refuses to sleep with Rod and me in our room. She is more relaxed and comfortable sleeping in your room. On weekends that I am home, I automatically wake up in the middle of the night to check on her. Call me praning, ‘Pang, but I always check her breathing as I stand at the foot of her bed. I smile when I hear her snoring. I smile all the more when I see her sleeping while embracing your pillow. The bed is big enough for one person to occupy but I’m sure there’s never a night that Nanay feels alone in your room.

A few months after your passing, she confided to me a funny secret — which is no longer a secret now because I parroted everything she told me to everyone in our family. She told me that in your last few moments on earth, she whispered to you that if you crossed the light to the next life, she would follow you right away. Then again, after a few minutes, she realized that she still wanted to celebrate life with her children and grandchildren. So she went back to your ICU bed and took back her promise. Her exact plea to you, she said, was: “Nakupo, Syo. Pasensya ka na at hindi muna pala ako susunod sa iyo. Kawawa naman ang mga bata. Kung mawawala ka at ako rin ay mawawala, paano naman ang mga anak natin? Kahit matatanda na sila’y kailangan pa rin nila ng magulang.”

Nanay said your eyes were tightly closed when she renegotiated with you but still you managed to smile. She even said that your left hand slightly pressed her right hand. She took it as a sign that you understood why she had to take back every word she said. Then, after a few more moments, off you went to your calm crossover.

She visits your grave almost every day. She sings to you as she affectionately stares at your grave marker. She talks aloud as if you were just in front of her. Well, like me, she reports to you the things that happen in the house, in the neighborhood. Sometimes she tells you stories about politics — alam nyo naman, Papang, Nanay can be very opinionated.

Two Saturdays ago, she slept late because she was having fun with your grandchildren. Your apos slept in the house to accompany their Lola because Rod and I were coming home very late. They searched kundiman and Tagalog folk songs on YouTube and together they sang the night away. She was surprised that all your young apos, like your five children, could sing kundiman songs, too. Nikki and Paopao sang Sa Lumang Simbahan. Gabby sang Nasaan Ka Irog? Alex and Nikkelle had a duet of O Maliwanag na Buwan, my favorite song when I was five years old. Nikko burned into a CD all the kundiman songs — including your favorite Anak Dalita — that he found on YouTube so his Lola could just play it again and again. They finished singing a little before 4 a.m. But at 7 a.m., Nanay was already up, churning breakfast magic in the kitchen.

‘Pang, in case you forget, which I doubt you won’t, Nanay will turn 68 in June. We don’t have plans yet for her birthday but this early, she’s excited to get a kiss from you again — in her dreams. She told me that you always gave her a peck in the morning of her birthday. And in the last two years that you have been gone, she said you never forget to kiss her in her dreams come her birthday.

Actually, she’s also excited to receive your loving embrace on May 23 — it could have been your 47th wedding anniversary. To this day she warmly recalls how the priest who solemnized your wedding lent you and Nanay your wedding rings. This early, she’s excited to cook your favorite pancit mi-ke on that day. Yes, I will make sure that she never forgets to garnish that noodle dish with chorizong pula, your favorite.

I’ll tell you more about Nanay in my next letter. Meanwhile, please know in your heart that I think of you with loving fondness every day. And I promise you that we will make today extra memorable for Nanay as we celebrate Mother’s Day.

Love you, ‘Pang.

 

(Please e-mail me at bumbaki@yahoo.com. You may want to follow me on Twitter @bum_tenorio.

Have a blessed Sunday!)

ALEX AND NIKKELLE ANAK DALITA LOLA LUMANG SIMBAHAN MDASH NANAY NASAAN KA IROG PAPANG WHEN I
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