In behalf of my family, we thank you for sharing with us our grief in the passing of our mother. She died of colon cancer last October 3. We buried her last Friday in Almaguer’s hilltop cemetery, finally reunited with my father, my younger sister, and her parents.
During her 5-day wake, I was able to get a better understanding of what my mother was in her lifetime. We were overwhelmed by the deluge of people who came to pay their last respects. I was drowned by anecdotes about her which kept sleep away.
My mother was a missionary teacher. We have to attend 4 different elementary schools and 2 different high schools (for each of us and my siblings) because of her and my father's postings who was a credentialed literature evangelist. She spent a year as a domestic helper in
so we can have better lives. When she came back, she taught at a public school in Bayombong. One of her treasures is a certificate commending her dedication to her profession beyond the call of duty. Singapore
My mother was an organizer. She helped establish Senior Citizen Chapters and Neighborhood Associations in our province and as far as Isabela. I learned that the official song of Nueva Vizcaya's Senior Citizens was introduced and taught by her --- "Never Grow Old". It was the keynote song during the necrological service for her.
My mother was a musician. She sang in weddings, funerals and birthdays. She taught us to play the guitar, the banduria and octavina, the harp and organ. I remember when she would try writing down the notes of the songs she will teach to her pupils the next day. The task will take away most of her night.
My mother was a devout Adventist. Everything she left to prayers: when we were sick, had no money, or my father not coming home the other night. And God seems to be always listening to her because most of the time, her prayers were answered. Last Sunday while we were waiting for her body to arrive from the funeral parlor, my cousins and uncles took out a bottle of Gilbey's gin. When the body arrived, the bottle suddenly broke up without anybody touching it. That decided that there will be no drinking during the wake. My mother abhors alcohol.
Even when we were already in college, we would always call to my mother whenever we got sick. Her palms seemed to radiate magic that would soothe away the pain and fever. She was a classic Ilocano: kuripot and hardy. After her burial, we found a mountain of relics she kept in a bodega at the back of our house. "Addan tu pakausaran na", she said. She seemed to be always out of money for we cannot even beg a centavo from her for a piece of kendi lemon. But that magic pitaka of hers would always produce money when it was really needed. All of us were sent to college and she did not leave any debts. Contributions from her various organizational affiliations almost paid all of her burial expense.
I took up after my mother. I grew up in classrooms and that might be the reason for my becoming a teacher. I’m sure I inherited her passion for organizing. Music went to my younger brother and religion to my younger sister.
I was also able to meet my relatives during my mother's wake. It was only during deaths that we come together to renew ties. I came to know my Apong Burik who brought his family from Ilocos Norte to settle in Almaguer. The youngest was my mother's father. I was also asked to light the atong to inform passer-byes that there is death in our house. I listened to the dung-aws and heard of my mother's story. Perhaps she wanted it to be that way. I was her prodigal son and she always wanted me to go back home.
Last Wednesday, we found an album of old pictures she collated and captioned before her death. It is the story of our family. She never told us about it but I’m sure she knew we would find it. I’m also sure that she wanted me to keep it so I can tell our story to the future generations to come.
I did my dung-aw but did not cry much during the wake and burial. My mother hated gloomy gatherings. I’m sure she was welcomed by her creator with a "Well done, my child" greeting. She lived a full and meaningful life. I just hope that us his children can live up to what she was. Uray kagudwa laeng.