AS THE sun rises and sets, so must the child view his / her mom‘s greatness through the prism of self-interest. It’s not selfishness, it’s just how things evolve. There is hardly any world outside your comfort and primary wants of enough food and sleep, and you can’t help but put whoever provides these needs in the center of your attention.
Years later, in so many other ways but in the same unconditional manner, she is there for you, with you and for you, no question about it and though you’d never impose, there isn’t a thing she wouldn’t do for you if she knew it would help you.
But in little ways and in unintended situations, I’ve found out that Mom has been a whole lot of other things for a lot for other people.
For one thing, she has helped so many people go to school. Mostly these were children of our helpers (if not the helpers themselves), literally scores and scores of them through the years. The strange thing is outside of a few that we found out about inadvertently, she never told anyone about them, save perhaps Dad who must’ve known. As long as the interest to learn was there and they were willing to put in the time, effort and of course stay with us while going to school, Mom never declined. Most of the time Mom’s scholars didn’t finish, got married early or went back to the province to help their own folks, but it was never because Mom gave up on them. The only time we would find out who made it and thought enough of Mom to thank her was on Christmas and New Years, when one or two would make the trip to our home to express simple gratitude. A few words of pangaral (advise), a full plate of leftover noche buena and a broad smile from Mom was the usual response.
Another hidden talent that Mom’s used generously through the years is the number of people she’s brought together via her matchmaking skills. She knows instinctively who stand a good chance of being compatible and hitting it off as a pair, and she loses no time bringing these potential mates together. It matters not that the people she introduces to each other are a generation (or even two) younger than her, she has the innate sense of knowing who might be good for each other, and the latent clues, some physical but mostly otherwise she easily picks up for reference later.
But one of the most remarkable things I learned about my mother I learned when we circumnavigated the small island near Masbate province where she was born more than 25 years ago. Those days health and safety was little more than a murky concept, and five of us, my mom and three of my brothers rode an outrigger canoe (called a lancha) that fit barely two dozen people, and we visited a few villages wherever she had aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces, and all sorts of extended family.
In every village we visited, little more than a cluster of huts and fishing boats, there was always a small semi-concrete hut for Sunday worship, and usually there was a small marker near the door, thanking the donors for the efforts they made in making the structure possible.
Guess whose name I inevitably found inscribed on all those humble markers?
Thanks for bringing happiness in your own special way Mom. On your birthday, please accept heartfelt thanks from five grateful sons, seven grandchildren on whom the lessons of life and love will hopefully be treasured forever.
I love you always