Mom, I remember you having a mile-long list of things you wanted to realize but could not wait to hang your teacher’s baton to pursue them. You made plans to enjoy life, to breathe and live the world whenever time permitted. You were looking forward to retirement and could not wait.
Your dream was to travel the world, visit countries and see your girls whenever you felt like it, and for as long as you pleased. The plan was for you and Dad to do it the way retirees usually do.
You yearned to jump on board a big cruise liner, sport kaki shorts and Hawaii shirts, sunglasses, designer hat and cruise the world; hop on a plane and land in the nearest town, chronicle your latest adventures, take and share your many photos with us. You dreamed it all and were on track to do just that but it was not to be. The Almighty had a different script and your wishes were diverted, thrown off course.
Your husband first earthquake – he came down with not one but two and three strokes – came like a full force hurricane. It brushed his wits and for the avid reader that he has always been, it was an unintended prescription tantamount to a death sentence. The illness progressively ate up his brain and his physical and emotional behavior for a while; never mind how long but it was a while.
Locked blindly like a prisoner, it battered your body but did not take an ounce of your energy or soul; and like one good warrior, you soldiered on, catching the bus or taxi, whatever means of transportation to the hospital everyday, sometimes twice a day to visit your husband, to spoon feed your guy, your soul mate, your man.
Through it all, you tirelessly became his eyes and ears; his translator, his nurse, his companion in chief. You, the once delicate invulnerable flour in my Dad’s eye, metamorphosed into one-woman machine who (un)selfishly and meticulously lives by her very script of “God had other plans for me and I have accepted”, and no one dares say a word because you refused to hear it.
You could have commemorated your 53th wedding anniversary last week; yes, could have are the words but it was not there. I hoped to seeing you strolling down the aisle, flooded by your loved ones, hand in hand with your unselfishness, and his bashfulness and hearing the priest pronounce you “husband and wife” once again, but it was not to be.
I recall you wanting to celebrate a deux, fearful that he would not have any recollection or get too fidgety to even grace the event. Instead, it went by, like any other day. I did not call you purposely, so not to upset you nor remind you of the beautiful life you once had. So, I let it be.
I imagined you sitting in your bedroom, alone, at the tip of the bed, going through pictures, sobbing, reminiscing but that was just my imagination. I don’t know how it went for you because I did not dare ask you how the day went.
You have not talked about touring the world lately and I don’t believe you have stopped dreaming, nor accepted the fate that has been delineated for you either. Perhaps, beneath the seemingly stalwart veil, there is a glimpse of hope that you, one day, will be able to be that famous tourist you once longed for after all.
Your devotion to him, your irreplaceable love, transcended imagination. It was beyond belief. Yours was a bond that I will neither be able to mimic nor replicate but I observed it and am proud of.
Mom, I just don’t know how you did it. You were a locomotive, one woman Inc., your own superwoman. I can vehemently utter that I am jealous. Jealous of the sense that I wanted to be you but I am not. I will never be you; I will never be like you; I will not even pretend to be you, but your daughter I shall always be. You are one of a kind! Thank you for being my Mom.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Note: This was originally written in 2009 but minor changes were made to incorporate my father’s passing last year.