[ Note : May was the anniversary month (2nd) of my aunt Tita Lily’s passing, and yesterday was the last day of said month. I cannot overestimate the impact her life has made over so many others, including that of mine, my immediate family, her colleagues at work, and the professional, religious and larger communities to which she belonged. We all miss you terribly Tita Lily! ]
AS EARLY as four or five years old, whether Mom and Dad intended it, you were an important part of our birthday ritual. Usually early in the morning, half-past six or seven you would be on the phone with Mom or Dad, and one of them would invariably mention it was my birthday. You would then spend a few minutes greeting me and making my day. Mostly because you, not unlike a fairy godmother, asked me “what would you like for your birthday Noel?”
Like a kid in a toy store, my pupils would dilate in wonderment, although I was previously coached to say, anything you would give me Tita Lily would make me so happy, but I had a little amendment of my own, young as I was, like a certain Matchbox model just sitting on the store showcase was just begging me to be owned by a birthday boy, and I happen to be that birthday boy, so…
Then it’s yours, Noel, just because it’s your birthday. Happy birthday! or something like that, you would always say, then as now, taking time to make me feel loved, and special, and important.
Not knowing that you did it to all your nephews and nieces, on their respective birthdays.
Years later, you kept a short list of people you liked to take with you on your year-end office meetings, invariably held outside the country. I wasn’t on that list, but everytime someone begged off, I was one of the first alternates. Because of those few trips, I was able to see the land of our ancestors, the wealth of Singapore, and with my children, the magic of Disney World. I would never have seen those wonders otherwise, if not for you.
Those things, after the success of your career, were your priorities. Travel and keeping close track of your health. Everything else took a back seat, and rightfully so, since you deserved to enjoy the fruits of your labor by seeing the wonders of the world, and you deserved to enjoy them in the pink of health, despite your advanced years.
Fortunately in the time you spent in this world you were able to enjoy both before God took you away from us. I thank Him for all the happiness and comfort your shared with the least of your brethren, and I am doubly glad that I was one of them.
Remembering you always Tita Lily. Thanks for everything!