My mom is a living saint
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - October 19, 2014 - 12:00am

When everyone else in the world might abandon you, in the face of all the odds, the pains and whatever adversities, there is only one person who is guaranteed never, never to turn her back from you. Mothers.  Perhaps, God, even as He is omnipotent and omniscient, cannot really attend to all the children in the world, in the physical sense,  all at the same time. For there are billions  of us, whether infants, toddlers, teenagers or adults. That is why He invented mothers, and delegated to her all the hard work, the intricate and difficult tasks of rearing and bringing up children. And the challenge of molding upright persons and righteous characters in a world strangled by greed, lust and hunger for power.

If we examine all the lives of great men, we can discover that all of them have great mothers. The fathers are always busy earning a living and competing for wealth and glory, in business, politics or in war. It is always the mothers who wake up the earliest to prepare the foods and clothes of children, the ones who send off kids to schools and attend school activities. The fathers have business meetings and social functions. Mothers are sleepless when kids are sick and when sons have delinquencies or girls are bullied by peers.  Even today when mothers have likewise become career and corporate women, they are still the ones who are more mindful of the nitty gritty of giving moral and psychological support to sons and daughters. Fathers pretend to be focused on the bottom lines and the big picture.

Today, my mother turns 87, and is bedridden in Seattle where she and my 89 year old Papa are living their twilight years with my youngest brother Jonathan. They used to live in Honolulu for almost twenty years. My mom even worked in McDonalds as a cashier for a few years. They don't discriminate on the basis of age.  And while already retired as a public school teacher for 40 years in many mountain villages in Ronda, she still insisted to work in Hawaii, to earn a few bucks to send home to struggling children here. She would always call me every Monday (Sunday in the US), me being the eldest of 18 children (only 8 survived because of poverty). She could remember every birthday and anniversary.

Today, Alzheimer's has taken most of her memory. There is no more call every Monday, the call that I always enjoyed for more than 20 years. My mother has had a very difficult life. Born in the mountain farm to two unschooled farmers, she had to walk kilometers to fetch water from the spring. She was the eldest too like me. She studied barefoot in the barrio and became a teacher. But when she got married to my Papa who is quite a spoiled youngest son and a happy-go-lucky town boy from Dumanjug, my Mama had to struggle hard, bringing up all 8 children from among the 18 that she delivered. As the eldest, I witnessed the tears she shed, the pains she had to suffer and I saw how much she loves Papa and remains faithful to him from 1949 when they tied the knot until now. Imagine 65 years.

In 1999, I sponsored a grand golden wedding anniversary for her and Papa, held in what we used to call the Cebu Plaza Hotel. Mama was still 72 years old, and Papa 74. Today, she does not remember anymore all the good times and the bad. Of all her children, she only recognizes me, the eldest. And Jonathan, the youngest. My wife and I visited her in Seattle last Christmas. She is always overjoyed to see me. I spent many days with her, trying to tell her stories, to which she would only smile. She no longer worries like she used to. But she prays a lot. An Irish priest brings the holy communion to her every Sunday. I watch her when she sleeps. She is a portrait of perfect peace and saintly joy. And I know she will never abandon me. Never abandon us. I thank God for this perfect mother.

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