Every morning, all groggy and grumpy from being snapped awake by the alarm clock into the reality that bedtime is over, I rub my eyes as I traipse the hallway that separates the sleeping quarters from the dining area. From there, I can hear a solo concert emerging in the master’s bathroom to the tune of the faucet’s flowing waters. As always, there is harmony. She may have been my first music teacher, singing to me while I was still in her womb. I reach the dining table that by then will be all set for us. My hot chocolate still steaming – and oftentimes concocted with egg white – which she thought I never noticed but which I actually knew all along. I guzzle my breakfast and head back quickly to my room. I meet her in the hallway all fresh and perked up. She breaks into a wide smile, pecks a kiss on my cheek, hugs me really tight despite the odor clash and greets me, “Good morning, my darling, my little sweet…” A litany of good morning greetings follows. Ah, my morning has just begun…
I’m talking about the woman I have always looked up to since birth. She is the bestest best friend in the whole wide world, an angel with her wings arching across distances and time, an educator with an everlasting patience and loving attitude, a faithful companion, a servant-leader, a wife, and a mother. My mother. Everyday, I whisper a million thanks to the Big Guy up there who gave me to her – she, who unselfishly allowed the doctors to open her belly for me to take my first breath of air and whom I always run to whenever my mischievous antics get me in trouble with my father and my brothers. Of course! I am an only daughter and her youngest child. Technically, I had the biggest potential to grow up a spoiled brat. I would instinctively hide behind my mom whenever my “horns” or just sheer playfulness hurt others. But being an objective mother, she would expose me to the pain of facing the consequences of my actions. I felt the whip of the belt lash around my legs and the weight of the books on top of my outstretched arms. When she sees my eyes puffy and my nose red from crying, I know it tugs her heart with pity but she is firm in her resolve to let the lessons sink in.
My mom is a simple woman. Her kindness and her simplicity are both great attractions that pull people to gravitate around her. Her positive energies are so strong that despite the 40-year gap, (Yup, you read that right. She gave birth to me when she was 41.) she looks and acts as though youth was always on her side. She played with me when I was a kid, read books, or put me to sleep with her own version of fairytales. I remember she would emphatically and animatedly narrate the stories of Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella while my dumbfounded self would just stare at her with all attention. Probably because it took a lot of effort to pull off one story, in the middle of one story, her eyelids would slowly droop while I couldn’t make out her warbled words. She would discreetly “head bang” to sleep. I wasn’t merciful as a kid and I would nudge her gently. She would wake up with a start and although she would sweetly complain, “Katulgon naman ko oi,” to which I would counter “Sige na Ma, pleeeaaassse?” oftentimes with a little hug and kiss, she would move on to finish the story. Now that I’m too old for fairytales, I do most of the storytelling. In high school, it was about crushes, experiences in school, and encounters with terror teachers. Today, I share to her my dreams for my future, my infatuations, and my views about life.
My mom is a very talented woman. She can cook really well. Just the thought of her biko, spaghetti, and pansit among all other dishes leaves me salivating and yearning to go home. She sings and dances well, too. She taught me to dance swing, boogie, tango, and cha-cha. And I am definitely looking forward to our Tell Him duet ala Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand.
My mom is a real beauty inside and out. She was a reyna in her younger years. Today, her crown incontestably remains with her. For us, she is the queen of all things bright and beautiful: of deep understanding, of sincere compassion, of true selflessness, and of unconditional love.
I wholeheartedly dedicate this post to my mom, who has been my strength, my inspiration, my confidante, and my best friend.
Ma, you once told me you and Papa are not “perfect parents.” I think there’s no such thing as “perfect parents.” Rather, I believe you did a perfect job of raising Manoy, Kuya, and me – perfect not in the sense that you never committed any mistake but perfect in the sense that despite all the mistakes, you were able to bring out the best persons in us. I couldn’t just imagine how hard it was to raise a stubborn and a temperamental child like me. (Hehehe. Must have been really hard.) But you were always patient, kind, and loving. There are so many things I love about you. I could go on forever. But more than anything else, I love you very much, Mama. For being YOU and for being my Mama. Happy Birthday!
P.S. Happy christening to my über-cute nephew Jakob Emmanuel “Yanis” L. Yap!