Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Shining Star

Four years ago this month, my gran passed away. The day I received that tragic news, I wrote this:

I feel sad today. Not because Mama as we fondly call our grandma God bless her soul, passed away. I feel sorry for my children who have lost their chance to meet the most extraordinary woman I had ever known in my whole life. I couldn't imagine Mama being frail and weak. When I was little, she came across as superhuman to me. So powerful I can only describe her in virile terms. I would cringe just hearing her footsteps cause I knew I'm off to the bath with that most awful looking scrubbing 'thingy' I had seen - not the fancy loofah you buy nowadays at Body Shops, but that horrid piece of rock: as in huge lump of rough mineral matter from god knows where on earth's crust it got blown up from. Imagine the most excruciating pain when that rock touched the skin.

As I grew older, I came to realize how graceful and exquisite she was. Perhaps still strong, what with the "language" and the pints of booze she consumed, but she was strong in that sort of Master Yoda kind of way: a wielding force of delicate composition and artistry. I remember how my sister in law got told off by her at one time. She had a rough day with my nieces and she was at the point where she was almost ready to take up the whole ammunition that a country has against her children, when Mama appeared and froze her with her words. Unprintables most of them unfortunately, but I've never seen nor heard such wisdom and discernment. That made Mama my superhero or heroine for that matter ever since, and still continues to inspire me and gives me strength everytime I face bullies and Darth Vaders of this planet. I wasn't on the hefty side when I was going to school and I learnt to use the art of clever conception to fend off and crumple my adversaries.

I never used to have pocket money when I went to school. My mother was a public school teacher and she never gave me money so that I can have nutrition instead of junk peddled outside school. The maid will just materialise as if some strange law of quantum physics caused her to be teleported from our kitchen to the class room at the exact time we are having our 'recess' to shove a veggie porridge and the most pathetic nutribun on my face. I don't how what sort of psychodynamics would that scene affect the other children but I'm sure it gave me the most inferior kind of complex.

I was such a wimp that my teacher had to sleep beside me as a cub scout when we got castawayed in some equatorial hell hole somewhere in Pilar during one of those scouting trips. It rained hard that day, and I heard from the 'big' scouts that there was a tropical storm boiling and that all the roads were flooded. I was so convinced that my father was going to pick me up that afternoon. In actual fact he tried, if not for the wicked ancient narra tree in Santa Fe that completely blocked the road. It was the longest night of my entire childhood life... I sure got teased as 'the baby boy' by my classmates.

There I was: a glass of milk in hand, staring at those ugly morons chewing the nastiest looking coconut candy courtesy of Nay La-on who had not only the most fascinating 'candy store' chucked by god right in front of the school, but also a dark 'gambling' den where old ladies smoked fat tobaccos and played cards - the type with the oddest pictures in them and not the usual clubs and spades. The kind with swords and witches hanged upside down.

Then I discovered that Mama was one of those ladies. I didn't mind then that I didn't have money, knowing that she was there. She was such a star literally as her name "Estrella" in Spanish implies. She would dish out the shiniest coins, and like manna from heaven they fell to my hands and into Nay La-on's till as I took some of the most heavenly tasting coconut candy. My sisters and brothers would agree that Mama was the most generous person to grace the planet. My sister 'Star' named after Mama would have her 'unprintable' gashed for that. She was the favourite "apo".

I heard from my sister two days back that Mama was so dyspneic that she needed continuous oxygen. It was comforting to know that a grandchild who is a doctor was there to attend to her needs. My big sister is also a doctor and it was natural to dicuss the matter in medical terms. We were both adamant for any escalation of treatment. Mama if I guessed it right was 98 and we favoured a more humane treatment. I told her that all Mama needed is TLC: what we call in Nursing as tender loving care. She needed loads of it. It is what I learnt from dealing with patients and families in my whole professional life as the kindest and most comfortable and dignified way to go. I'm pretty sure she would choose it that way. I couldn't imagine Mama dying. She would love to be remembered as a living force. She was a woman with so much style and magnificence, it's quite impossible for me to think that she was gone. She would continue to live within me.



It is such a shame that I wasn't there for her. Wish I could go home. Definitely not to throw ashes over rice fields, rivers and streams... not my style. I'd sit for a glass of wine (not 'tuba' of course, her preference. Couldn't take it. I had a nasty gut after a first attempt to gobble that stuff) A lovely vintage bottle of really sparkling champagne would be nice, if Mama won't mind... and get drunk.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

pulling through. wondered. how the cactus. survives. in a. harsh environment. oasis. & riches. gut feel. honey & gold. acquiesced. the warning. of the teet. damn. my body. is almost. soaked. halfway. might. as well. dip. & wade. into. the water. sand. existence. death. defying. instinct. evoked. pedantic. oddity.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous tg said...

guimaras dont just need a broom, it needs a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner....to suck out all the dregs of society who are responsible for this environmental disaster. i must say, makakarma din kayo.

3:21 PM  
Blogger howling said...

Perhaps I should change the post title to Country Needs Heavy-Duty Vacuum Cleaner... LOL. Thanks TG.

9:48 AM  

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