Sunday, April 20, 2008

Keep My Story and I Know I'll Live Forever

We are born into the world amazed of things we do not understand. We imagine it as magic, or unknowable, or impenetrable. And for a long time, from childhood to adolescence, we accept it as it is. But at one point, you will tire of accepting things the way they are and you will start to seek and search; you turn things upside down, perhaps to see if you can still put it back together the right way up.

The day I saw where the starting line was and understood how I figured in the scheme of things was the day when I realized my Mother was human. Just human. The world shifted, but it was a good change. The day I heard the story of her life made her feel more accessible and less of a god-person. It made me realize that we ALL have to make our way through life, mistakes and all.

She told me of her impoverished childhood and the humiliation she encountered from their snobbish Kapampangan relatives. It didn't help that she looked mestiza; it made their poverty even more ironic and ridiculous. She had to wear slip-shod shoes stuffed with newspaper because my lola could not afford to buy her ones that fit. She wore hand-me-downs and relied on her own sewing skills to make it look presentable at least. She had 5 cents allowance for a week and ate bread for breakfast and lunch. She had 7 siblings and they would share 4 pcs of longganisa amongst themselves for dinner. One whole longganisa was reserved for my lolo who worked as a driver.

Nevertheless, she was always voted class president. She was always at the top of her class and was a shoo-in for her much coveted career as a lawyer. Unfortunately, the grandfather who was funding her studies could not afford to give her a law education and she settled with a degree in Education. Graduating Cum Laude, she got snapped up by the oldest college in the country and she teached there for the remainder of her life. She never became a lawyer, but countless students she has taught did. Some of them returned to her to thank her. They told her how she has helped them become successful. She would smile serenely and tell them they have helped themselves. My mother, robbed of her dream, can still tell them this. For a while, I have hated those students. To me it seemed they were rubbing salt on her wounds. But I realized that my mother had a complete acceptance of her mission. She said we were all put here on earth for a reason, and God must have had more use for her as a molder of minds than as defender of truth. Her acquisence is amazing. It taught me a very hard lesson people often never learn in their lifetime. Accept God's will and your life will never be a waste.

She also got to share with me her unusual gift of extra-perception, an asset passed on to her unwitting daughters. Hearing her experiences, and her own battle with unearthly darkness, made me realize I am not alone. It comforted me to know she has passed through the same things, and that I am not just insane after all. She told me that the world is far darker and brighter than people could ever grasp, and we should always be vigilant to know if we are going down the path of perdition or the avenue of damnation.

That night she poured her story out for me remains vivid in memory. I am seated where I am seated right now, the computer forgotten as I fumbled to catch the seeds of her own tree of life tumbling out of her lips.

My sensitivity to drama being what it is, I knew it was a life-changing moment. I even sensed that it was one of those last things I have to treasure because an end was at hand. I knew my mother was telling me her story so I will have her life recorded in my mind. It was a plea.

Hear me, daughter, and let me live forever.

I have heard and she will exist. I have written it down and now it will live far longer than our two lives put together could ever last.

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