The end of the century of the 1900's was a turning point of all of us who have been a part of a woman who was an image of many things, 1999 was an end this woman's rollercoaster affair with life as her struggle with diabetes, hypertension and the criminal heart problem proven that man cannot win over death. But what really is this woman's fight with life for? Or what are WE?
One's existence, they say, can be measured on how one leaves this world, it can be measured in the deeds may be good or bad or in the number of hearts one has touched.
A song in the movie RENT talked about 525600 as the number of minutes in a year and asked of how you spend a year of your life, my mother talked of how you spend your day and what can you offer God at the end of it. Life is too short to be wasting it with nothing, she says and she has proven in the end that hers was a life full of meaning and deeds done.
She came to San Carlos as an orphan from Janiuay, Iloilo and lived with her relatives who were prominent in the city in the 1950's and was trained to do house chores in the most intricate manner I have imagined which we (my brothers and sisters) have called so "OVER" that every weekend the time left for us is to eat bananacue at 3pm and everything would be a blur after - time becomes blurred of work until we realize it was time to fix the bed we had sunned and dusted.
These chores we thought were too weird or eccentric have brought us where we are now, we were unconsciously taught of the atention to details, to the importance of a job well done, to the use of your both hands and feet working simultaneously, and to essence of the word "multi tasking".
Who would love to turn over the garden (and semi-boulder size) stones every week and loosen the soil so the earthworms wouldn' have a hard time breathing, turn over the hanged clothes every hour to hasten the drying process and so with the "pinakas" or home dried fish which she loves to make, clean each bathroom corner with a barbecue stick and old toothbrush, while watching "Flordeluna" we should wipe each leaf of the indoor plants (I can only sigh when it is time for the five fingers plant to be wiped) with egg whites until you can see your reflection in each leaf or wipe the spoons and forks with dry cloth after washing until our distorted reflections mirror us or keep your feet busy as your eyes by scrubbing the floors, and even recycling food from fried fish from lunch into a colorful sweet and sour for dinner.
It was always a tiresome weekend for us children for the only compensation after the "hard labor" was a gallon of ice cream especially during "sweldo". We didn't have the luxury to go to the neighbor's house and sit on their chairs and talk of somebody else or to play wih others because if we ask the answer is always "The reason why you have a brother (Alvin) is that you don't have go out because you have a playmate."
Looking back at all we have thought to be weird in our younger days I can say that those requests or chores were not weird at all but they have made us more creative, more atentive to perfection and more eager to do better than what we can.
We were pissed by her constant reminder and unending speeches of little things magnified but when the loud speeches faded like the dusts on the dry and dirty leaves, we started to miss everything - the beautiful and lush gardens, the sparkling bathrooms, the sweet natural smell of dry cotton on our pillows. The noise and reminders have gone with time but we still do what we have been taught as if she will be there to check our work, we still work as if time is slowly eaitng our day that we have nothing to give back to God for another beautiful day He has given us, and we still strive to be better or be the best in what we can do. Maybe because she has not left us at all. Tomorrow, July 9, is her birthday, and if she is still alive by this time, the mos thorough general cleaning will be done today and we wouldn't mind at all beacause there will be lechon, sweets and ice cream.
Sigh is all I could utter but life is too busy to count one's existence through minutes.
525600 minutes 525000 moments so dear 525600 minutes how do you measure measure a year?
In Day Lights in sunsets in midnights in cups of coffee, in inches in miles in laughter and strife...
Happy 80th Birthday, Mama.